If you are (or your son or daughter is) a young adult who has just received their P plates, or even their full driver’s license, then congratulations! You’ve successfully passed the first few hurdles on the path to becoming a responsible and adept driver. As exciting as your achievement undoubtedly is, however, you probably know that there’s a lot more to driving than passing a few theoretical and practical tests. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete newbie on the road, driving is one activity that will always demand your full and total attention, both physically and mentally.
If you’re looking to become a more proficient driver, practice always makes perfect. This is why it’s important to continuously work on honing your driving skills, both by physically driving and by learning and internalizing safety methods and measures. As a young driver, it’s important for you to understand that by holding a license and controlling a vehicle on the road, you have an important responsibility to always look out for your own and for others’ safety. Luckily, there’s a wealth of information out there for young drivers, and this post in particular can help you out with the basics of buying a car, purchasing insurance, and driving responsibly.
A Car of Your Own
Buying a car is a big decision to make. As great as it would be to be able to opt for the nearest attractive and eye-catching model, there are a few other factors that need to be taken into account! First things first – before searching for suitable options, it’s a good idea for young drivers and their parents to sit down and discuss all the pertinent details, such as their budget, the driver’s needs, their lifestyle, the distance regularly travelled, and so on.
Once you’ve done so, you can narrow your search for cars accordingly. It’s unlikely that a young driver would need a large vehicle with plenty of seats for their day-to-day activities, for example, so finding a smaller and more compact model might be the priority. As for the budget, it’s important for young drivers and their parents to look at the whole picture and to think about the costs the car will accumulate over time, not just its purchase price. Consider petrol money, registration fees, maintenance costs, and possible repairs that might need to be made, as well as car insurance, which will be discussed in the next section.
It might also be a worthwhile idea to look into used car options, as opposed to brand new models. Buying a previously owned vehicle can be an extremely cost-effective way for young drivers to get used to owning their own personal car, as you’ll likely save on the dealer mark-up if you buy a used car privately. However, it pays to be savvy if you decide to purchase a used vehicle, as used cars do have a history and they may require more maintenance in the future than a new model. See if you can bargain with the current owner of the car, and remember to organise test-driving and mechanical inspections if you find a suitable used vehicle.
Young drivers who are concerned about the environment might want to investigate their options when it comes to purchasing a “green” car that will reduce greenhouse and air pollution emissions.
Car insurance is always an important priority for all drivers, but especially so for drivers under 25. Unfortunately, the bad news for this demographic is that insurance companies do consider young drivers to be a much higher risk than older, more experienced drivers, so you may be charged a higher premium for your policy. Regardless of the cost, however, purchasing insurance is always important so make sure to take this into account when budgeting for your new vehicle. The good news is that by shopping around for different policies, you may be able to find some great deals. This is why it’s always a smart idea to keep your car insurance regularly updated, as the car insurance market is very competitive.
It’s a good idea for you to conduct your own research into the different types of car insurance, so you know exactly what kind of cover you need. You are required by Australian law to have compulsory third party insurance, which covers death and injury to people if you are involved in an accident. However, there are also other important types of car insurance to consider, such as comprehensive insurance, which covers damage to your car and the other party involved where you have caused an accident.
Car insurance is not to be taken lightly, so always have a good hard think about your own safety, as well as that of others on the road. If in doubt, always ask the insurance provider plenty of questions so you know exactly what kind of cover you would be receiving.
Being a diligent and responsible driver is an enormous task, and it’s always an ongoing process for any driver, new or not. Check out some of the following tips to see how you can keep working towards being a safety pro on the roads.
- Improve your hazard awareness skills – it goes without saying that it’s of utmost importance you are alert and wary while driving, so be realistic about your skills. Consider taking lessons with a qualified professional, or test yourself with the Hazard Perception Test to check if you’re up to scratch.
- Be extra careful – follow all the traditional safety rules of driving, such as keeping a safe distance between the car in front of and behind you, always checking your blind spot when merging or turning, and waiting for big gaps in oncoming traffic. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
- Know when to say no – never drive if you are fatigued, intoxicated, distracted or drugged in any way. All of these states slow your reflexes, sometimes significantly, which could put you and others in serious danger if you are driving.
- Adapt to the conditions – driving might be easy on a dry, quiet road in the sunshine, but what about at night, when it’s foggy, or if it’s snowing or raining? In these conditions, it’s always best to slow down and keep an eye out for advisory road signs.
- Safety measures are key – your seatbelt, for example, is there for a reason. Always fasten your seatbelt when you hop into the driver’s seat, and make sure your passengers do the same.
The Final Word: Welcome to the Driver’s Seat
Learning how to drive is empowering and exciting, there’s no doubt about that. However, it’s not all fun and games – driving also means you have a significant responsibility to always look out for your own and others’ safety on the road. Once you’ve purchased your own vehicle and organised a comprehensive car insurance plan, don’t forget to keep sharpening those driving skills!