Learning to drive is a daunting experience. But once you pass the test and start regularly driving you won’t know yourself anymore. Looking back at your inexperience then will make you wish you could tell your past self all the tips and tricks you know now. Now that I know what I know as an experienced driver, here’s what I’d tell my younger self if I got a chance to coach my own driving again.
Car Ownership is Expensive
The first thing I’d tell my past self is that car ownership is more expensive than you expect. The cost of the car is where we wish the money would end, but once you buy a car, you’re going to pay for it again in a lot of other ways.
The average car loan in Ireland stood at a little over ten thousand euro in 2021, with varying monthly repayments of around €300 a month. But the cost doesn’t end there. Insurance for experienced drivers will be another €100 a month, plus fuel, tax, repairs and regular service.
All in you could be looking at double the cost you’re expecting. especially since you’re a young learner driver. All you might pay nearly €600 a month for your car every month. So, before buying a car, remember there’s more to cars than the initial payments. Of course, this cost is going to drop as you build your experience and pass your test. Your insurance might be steep, but it has to be done and we promise, the cost does drop as the years go on.
Your First Driving Test is Hardest
No matter what others tell you, it’s important to remember that your first driving test will always be the hardest. The nerves will be strongest and you don’t fully know what to expect. However, the test location, examiner, time, and routes play a big role in the difficulty of the test.
Different test centers have different average pass rates. Some are in slightly quieter towns like Clifden with a pass rate of over 70% and others in the busiest parts of Dublin like Finglas or Tallaght have pass rates less than 50%. As a first timer, you’ll find the testing experience stressful and nerve wrecking but remember that you can always take the test again (or four times in some cases…). Your instructor has gone through multiple routes with you, just pretend it’s them beside you like normal and take a deep breath. It’s never the end of the world if you fail the first time.
Steer Clear From Road Rage
Feeling a little angry and annoyed while stuck in traffic or dealing with incompetent drivers on the road is normal. However, it’s crucial not to let road rage creep into your everyday life. Luckily, there are various ways to prevent this growing problem and remain calm behind the wheel.
The easiest way to prevent road rage is by giving yourself more time. More often than not, road rage stems from panic over being late. Leaving for your destination ahead of time leaves room for traffic delays and allows you to remain calm and serene on your journey.
It’s also worth noting that 30% of road rage problems occur due to drivers cutting traffic or tailgating. Avoiding both errors makes you much likelier to have other drivers clear the way for you. It may seem obvious, but people respect safe drivers above all.
Instead of honking your horn repeatedly or showing crude gestures, try to maintain composure by taking deep breaths and showing compassion. Saying “thank you” and “sorry” is much more appreciated on the road and gets you more benefits than you think.
Check Your Car Regularly
An easy mistake to make as a car owner is to forget to check your car regularly. Regular car servicing doesn’t just maintain your car’s health, but it also saves money by detecting and fixing minor issues before they become major.
For example, changing your oil and filters prevents damage to your engine, and if you run out of oil your engine will seize entirely. You should get regular servicing and maintenance every year, or after a certain number of kilometres, whichever is first. Check your car’s service manual or just ask the garage to know exactly. But even every month or two it’s a good idea to check your car over yourself. Check your lights work, you’ve enough oil, your tyres are in good condition etc. You don’t want to be stuck broken down unexpectedly.
A service or a new pair of tyres is a whole lot cheaper than a new car, we promise.
There Will Be Worse Drivers
It’s important to remember that there will always be worse drivers on the road. So while it may feel easier to let them annoy you and to give into road rage, the better option is to maintain composure and show compassion.
It’s best to ignore bad drivers, as you never know the other party’s situation. Trying to teach them a lesson will never lead to a solution, as your only responsibility is to keep you and your passengers safe. Trying to block a rude driver cutting in is just asking for an accident to happen.
On the other hand, there will also be better drivers than you. They may make you feel insecure and irritated on the road, but it’s important to follow in their footsteps and improve your driving skills as much as possible.
Look After Your Car
Finally, it’s important to look after your car, especially in the winter. When it’s time to sell your car, you’ll thank yourself for having maintained it so well. For example, wash your car regularly in the winter. The Irish weather is harsh at the best of times and our cars tend to rust quickly. This is mostly due to our salted roads in winter, so regular washing will help long term rust prevention.
It’s also nice to have a clean car when you give a lift to your friends. Beat the embarrassment of them pushing rubbish aside on the passenger seat next time you give them a lift home from a match.
Lastly, remember to keep an emergency kit in your car. It should include a flashlight, blanket, water, shovel, jumper cables, and some non-perishable food, a few grenade bars and water will do you. You might never need it, but you also might crucially need it just once.
Car ownership has an endless list of pros and cons. Sure you never have to wait for the bus anymore, but the petrol money causes a major hole in your pocket. As a now experienced driver, there are certain things I wish I knew as a beginner. By keeping these tips in mind, you can make your experience as a car owner much cheaper, safer, and more enjoyable.