Before going for your Ps
ARE YOU REALLY READY?
If you’re thinking of going for your Ps and have fulfilled the necessary licensing requirements, you probably feel confident handling a car in lots of situations. You might be nearly ready for P-plate driving. But how do you tell?
People tend to feel ready when they know they've learned a lot and come a long way. But they might not be ready at all. Often there can be an important ingredient missing, but it's very hard to know what you don't know.
One of the most valuable skills a driver can have is accurate self-evaluation.
Overestimating your ability is a classic mistake. We all know the dangers of complacent, overconfident driving – it can mean a lack of attention and concentration, and it's a regular cause of crashes.
Take the ego out of driving. Assess yourself by taking a good, honest look at your driving ability. If you realise it's not that great, don't beat yourself up about it – just keep practising and improve it, for the sake of staying alive, in one piece, and not hurting anybody else.
Driving abilities you could self-assess include:
- Keeping within the speed limit
- Anticipating other road users' likely movements
- Doing a zipper or highway merge
- Changing lanes safely and smoothly
- Going straight ahead or turning right at a roundabout
- Accelerating and braking smoothly
- Checking your mirror(s) before indicating or braking
- Keeping appropriate crash avoidance space in front of you.
There are many more driving abilities you can assess and the more the better. If you discover that you are a decent driver, look after that ability and leave self-congratulation behind. Overconfidence takes the edge off your alertness and wastes your hard work.
DRIVE ON Ls FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
Most people will want to get their Ps as soon as possible, but is the freedom to drive really more important than your safety and the safety of others? Use your parent/supervisor's experience – you can gain a lot from what they've learned over the years.
Staying on Ls for longer is the simplest and most reliable tactic for safer solo driving. Give yourself time to work on weak spots and difficulties until you've overcome them.
Make a list of the major skills you know you need and practise them until they feel natural and automatic, in varied conditions and situations. This will allow you to become more conscious of your own mental processes while you drive.
For example, watch what state of mind you're in when you're driving really well and try to recreate it on other days. Or notice what happens when you drive while you're in a bad mood. Time spent observing your own mind, in relation to your actions, is extremely productive time. The better you get at it, the better your solo driving will be.