Future Voices: Turning 17? Here are some tips for new drivers
- Credit: PA
At long last the wait is over! My 17th birthday has arrived and I can finally drive a car on the roads (legally).
But, whilst the wait was driving me crazy (literally), upon the day of my birthday I found myself at a loss of what to do. As I have subsequently found out, there is more to driving (legally) than just jumping in a car, shouting 'tally ho old chap', and driving off into the sunset.
Alas, I had failed to pay attention to provisional driving licenses, car insurance, and - probably most crucially - driving lessons. But don't worry, in the realisation of my many errors I have compiled a crash course (not literally) to get you road ready ASAP.
1. A Car
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Also known as your whip, your wheels, or your 'sweet ride man', the car seems like the most obvious element to getting on the road as fast as possible. Whether you are borrowing someone else's or getting your own, size matters. As a beginner, driving a large car - whilst you may look cool - is just downright dangerous.
When learning parking manoeuvres, overtaking, and passing other cars on the road it is good to have as much room as possible. The McDonald's drive through is much easier in a compact 3 door than a big 4x4. It is also much cheaper to have a smaller car when it comes to insurance.
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The bane of most new drivers is the dreaded insurance.
When you start out as a driver your car insurance is very expensive and people often find they spend more insuring a car than they spent on it in the first place. With this in mind it is always useful to keep an eye out on ways to save pennies here and there.
For starters, it is much cheaper to insure a car with a small engine than a sports car with a supercharged, fuel guzzling beast inside. Thus, it would be wiser for a learner to drive something with a smaller engine (maybe 1.2 litres).
Also, it's worth considering getting a black box. Whilst it might sound rather morbid, a black box is just a way of your insurance company monitoring how good your driving is 24/7. Black boxes reduce the price of car insurance quite substantially.
3. Driving Lessons
Whilst it is all well and good having a 'sweet ride man' with remarkably cheap insurance, you really won't get anywhere unless you know how to drive.
Driving lessons, obviously, are the most important thing about learning to drive. You could be taught to drive by a family member or friend (provided they have a driving licence and have been driving long enough), or - if you want to avoid a family dispute in the front seat of your car - you could get a driving instructor.
Whilst there is a lot of choice it is important to be taught by someone who prepares you with all the correct driving technique and habits otherwise it is extremely unlikely that you'll pass your test.
4. Provisional Driving Licence
All of the above culminate in nothing without this one - surprisingly easy to lose - little card.
It is against the law to drive without owning licence and if you have not passed your test you must own a provisional licence. It's useful to apply for your provisional before you turn 17 because it takes a little while to come in the post.
Hopefully this little check list will help those who are woefully unprepared, like myself, and get you road ready in time for - if not before - your 17 birthday.
Driving, in Norfolk especially, is a real freedom and I implore those of you considering it to give it a try. Also, it's much better than the bus.
Joe Hamilton, 17, Wolterton