How to reduce risk
ALLOW BIGGER SAFETY MARGINS
It takes years to get to a point where you can react instantly and correctly to a sudden, serious mistake, the way experienced drivers do. In the meantime, give yourself more time and space to react well to mistakes - both yours and other drivers’.
Here are some safety margins you can work on:
- Keep your maximum speed slightly under the speed limit.
- Follow at least three seconds from the car in front (preferably more).
- Pull over or change lanes if you're being followed very closely.
- Ease up on the accelerator when you see brake lights on any of the five cars in front of you or to the sides.
- Start by driving within range of your L-plate driving experiences.
- Drive little by little (not lots) immediately, and gradually widen your experience.
DRIVE A SAFE CAR
Safer cars significantly reduce your chances of being seriously injured in a crash. If you make a mistake and crash, they can reduce the effect.
Here are some ideas for safer solo driving:
- Buy the highest ANCAP-rated car you can afford. Remember, it doesn't have to be a brand new car; there are plenty of used cars that offer higher levels of safety for drivers and occupants.
- If you can, borrow a safer car for longer or more difficult trips – when driving at night or in adverse weather, for example.
- If you own a car with a low star rating, make it safer: fix mechanical faults and buy the safest tyres and shock absorbers you can.
- Look after your tyres.
- Avoid making sports-oriented modifications to the car.
KEEP HAVING SUPERVISED SESSIONS
While most people stop having supervised sessions when they get their Ps, having lessons on your licence is potentially one of the most powerful times to learn. By sharpening and refining skills with your parent/supervisor, you build knowledge that you can take away and practise solo.
Make a note of anything that gives you trouble or confuses you while out driving on your own, then take it up with your parent/supervisor and get it right without trial and error.
RECOGNISE RISKY CONDITIONS
There are specific conditions which have been identified as especially risky for P-plate drivers:
- Driving at night, particularly late on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Driving with friends in the car.
- Using a mobile phone or another digital device.
- Driving while tired.
Reduce your risk of crashing by making plans to manage these known risky conditions:
- Make plans on how to manage night driving when you first get your Ps. Consider not driving after dark at all for a while and arrange to get a lift or take a taxi or Uber.
- Limit passengers for your first six months of P-plate driving.
- Avoid driving when you'd normally be asleep.
- Recognise the early signs of fatigue – if you feel tired, arrange to get a lift or take a taxi or Uber.
- Learn not to use a mobile phone while driving (whether hands-free or not)
- Agree to leave messages and call before you drive or afterwards.
- Learn not to automatically look at the phone display or answer the phone when it rings.
- If you’re a passenger, be helpful – don’t make loud noises or distract the driver. Choose not to be a passenger in a car when you don’t feel safe with the driver.