Autumn Sees New Drivers Hit their Heights

The most common time of year to have a birthday is late September and early October, so it’s also the time of year when the highest number of nearly-turned 17 year olds - fresh from their birthday celebrations and eager to learn the ways of the roads - get behind the wheel of the family car for the first time.

For some lucky teenagers, it’s also the first time they’ll own their own car.

Buying your first car – or a car for the new driver in your family - isn’t easy. With so many models out there and lots of different factors to bear in mind, it can be hard to know where to start.

Chances are, you don’t want to pay masses (especially if you’re a student) but try and stretch your budget to a relatively recent car that comes packed with modern safety features. They could make all the difference if you get in to a sticky situation.

A small city car will inevitably be the most economical choice. Keep the engine size down and you’ll get more bang for your buck at the petrol pump too, plus your insurance premiums will be lower (average annual costs come in at around £1,400 for young people, according to financial advice website, www.moneysaver.com).

Consider having a black box installed in the car. It monitors your driving and reflects its findings in the premiums. Drive sensibly and your premiums will come down; drive badly and you’ll see an increase.

Whatever car and insurance policy you decide upon, the statistics show that new drivers are most at risk of accidents – so once you’ve chosen, drive cautiously.

Westover has a few tips for new drivers:

  • Take it steady. Just because you’ve passed your test doesn’t mean that you’re ready to take on the Le Mans racetrack.
  • Make the most of any opportunities to keep practicing and take tips from older, more experienced drivers. Driving through cities and in challenging weather conditions is a whole different ball game but stay calm and put into practice what you learnt in your driving lessons.
  • Ask a parent to come with you on your first motorway and night drives. It’s reassuring to have someone by your side.
  • Make sure your passengers don’t distract you – it’s your licence not theirs! If you don’t want the music full blast because it’s distracting you, don’t let your friends turn it up.
  • Drive at your own pace and don’t let other drivers hassle you. If they’re sitting on your bumper, just back off on your own speed a little and they’ll be forced to do the same. Above all, don’t succumb to road rage!
  • Remember you can keep your costs down by driving smoothly. You’ll stack up less of a fuel bill and your tyres will thank you too.
  • Keep your headlights and windscreen clean. Driving with a restricted view at night or in low sun conditions can be treacherous.
  • Respect other road users, including those not in vehicles. Cast your mind back to your days as a cyclist and channel those memories! Expect one around every corner and give them plenty of room.
  • Don’t be tempted to use your mobile phone – it carries a fine of up to £1,000 and is a major cause of accidents. Most modern cars have hands free kits now (or you can have one fitted), so leave your phone in the boot if you think you’ll be tempted to respond to a text message.
  • Take time to get to know a new car (or a car that’s new to you) before you drive away. Check the location of windscreen wipers, headlights and hazard warning lights and make sure you pre-programme the radio and Bluetooth connection. If you buy from a reputable retailer, they should take the time to show you around the vehicle.
  • Have fun and enjoy the freedom!