Driver Education Tips
March 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM
One very important milestone in anyone’s life is learning to drive, but it can be a difficult process with many things to learn.
You must remember many important rules of the road before you get behind the wheel to practice your driving, but the experience you gain and the information you learn will all help you to be a safer driver once you are fully licensed.
There are many things to consider before you get behind the wheel of a car, and this article will cover some of those items.
Driving for the First Time
You will need a supervisor to drive with you that has held a full licence for a minimum of two years with the same vehicle class that you are driving. It is recommended that you take some professional driving lessons and practice with family and friends.
Make sure that you have read the rules of the road and know them. Your L Plates need to be on the vehicle that you will be driving and you should carry your learner licence with you every time you drive.
For the first few times that you drive, make sure that you turn off the radio to reduce distractions and make sure that you are giving driving your full focus.
Safety Check your Vehicle and Adjust Settings
The tyres on the vehicle should be properly inflated and need a minimum of 1.5 mm of tread. Check the oil by pulling out the dipstick, wiping it off and reinserting it for a moment, then checking it again. The oil should be an amber colour (not black) and full to the line on the dipstick that says “full”. The water should be full and you should have enough petrol for the amount of driving that you plan to do.
Sit in the driver’s seat and adjust it so that it is in the right position for you to be able to see well and to control the vehicle properly.
You should be able to reach the control pedals comfortably. If not, you may need to move the seat back or forward. The headrest should be adjusted so that the top of the headrest is equal to the level of your eyes. If the steering wheel is adjustable, check to see that it is in the right position for you and that you can easily view the dashboard as well as the road in front of you.
Have your supervisor walk around the vehicle so that you can do a mirror check and find any blind spots. Your supervisor can also help you to check that all lights and indicators are working properly.
Familiarize yourself with all of the controls in the vehicle including the handbrake, windscreen wipers, demister, indicators and horn, because you want to know that they are working properly and that you know where they are when you need them.
Practice Your Driving
In order to apply for your restricted driver’s licence, it is recommended that you drive at least 120 hours and you must hold your learner licence for a minimum of six months. Spread out your driving practice through the entire period and drive in different areas to develop good driving skills.
You should drive in a variety of conditions including dry weather, rain, at dusk, in the morning and at night.
Once you feel comfortable on the road, make sure you get some experience driving in busy peak hour traffic too.
Driving under a variety of conditions – take care
When you drive in fog, smoke or rain, slow down and increase your following distance behind the vehicle in front of you.
Turn on your headlights to increase your visibility and keep your car windows from fogging up by utilising your demister.
Try not to brake suddenly or accelerate quickly to reduce any risk of skidding.
If there are road closure signs, make certain that you obey them and do not drive on any street that is covered with water.
When you drive at night, turn on your headlights between sunset and sunrise or in conditions where visibility is not good.
This will ensure that not only can you see where you are going but that other drivers can see you too.
Always turn your headlights to low beam when another vehicle approaches you. If another vehicle is coming towards you and neglects to turn its headlights down, slow down and look at the left edge of the road until that vehicle has passed.
Driving on Dirt Roads
It is important to know that different road surfaces have different gripping characteristics. It is important to reduce your speed and increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
When dirt roads are extremely dry large dust clouds can conceal a variety of road hazards including potholes and ruts.
When dirt roads are very wet the road can become slippery, boggy and muddy.
Driving on Busy Main Roads
It is important to never follow the vehicle in front of you too closely. The speed limit on main roads is much faster than side streets, so you will need to increase the distance between vehicles to allow for the longer time required for you to come to a full stop.
In good weather and ideal driving conditions you should leave a minimum of two seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
Intersections can be extremely dangerous and should be approached with care, even if you have a green light. Sometimes vehicles run lights from the opposite direction when the light is orange or even red, so you must watch for those drivers.
Always drive at the posted speed limit and adjust your speed for any dangerous road conditions.
It is important to watch ahead on the road for possible hazards so that you have time to react. If you want to change lanes or turn, plan the move ahead of time and give warning and an indication of your intentions by using your indicators.
Always be aware of what other drivers around you are doing.
Driving in the City
You need to plan the route that you will be taking ahead of time and always make certain that you are in the correct lane to turn where you need to.
It can be quite stressful to miss a turn and then have to double back to try to find the correct turn.
Watch road signs and markings like no entry signs, one way signs, pedestrian crossings and shared zones.
Never run red lights at intersections and keep an eye on reduced speed limits where pedestrian traffic is heavy.
Driving on Suburban streets
It is important to slow down and watch carefully when you drive near parked cars.
Pedestrians and children can be difficult to see if they come from behind a parked car and decide to cross the road in front of your vehicle.
Be alert and slow down near schools and playgrounds where children are likely to be playing. Never drive faster than 50 km/h unless you see a posted sign that indicates otherwise.
Be alert at stop or give way signs and any unmarked intersections.
Driving on Country Roads
Always be on the lookout for wildlife and livestock that is near the road and near any water crossings, especially at sunrise and in the evenings. Y
ou need to watch out for tractors on the roadways that may be towing farm machinery because they will be moving slowly and may not be able to see you behind them.
Never stop near a bridge, floodway or a narrow section of a road.
If it is safe to pull over to the left and stop, you should do so when you see a long truck approaching you to prevent damage to your windscreen.
If you need to overtake a truck, only do so when you are on flat, straight ground and have a clear view ahead.
Driving on Mountain and Range Roads
Drive cautiously and adjust your speed to observe any warning signs as many of these roads are extremely steep with a lot of sharp and blind corners. Try to avoid over use of your brakes by gearing down and using the correct gear for the situation.
Never follow vehicles too closely, especially if they are struggling to make a particularly steep climb. If you must overtake a vehicle, only do so when you can see clearly ahead of that vehicle.