New Driver Advice

P-Plates

In the UK, there is no legal requirement to display P-Plates and newly licenced drivers face no restrictions other than the new drivers act which is covered on this page so read on.

It's your decision to use P-Plates, some drivers use them and some don't. The reason for some new drivers not using them is that they are embarrased by them or feel they'll get laughted at or bullied. As a learner driver you spent many hours driving with L-Plates on the car which informed other road users that you are learning to drive. P-Plates do much the same, except they tell other drivers that you have passed, but you would like to inform them that you may still have difficulties. By informing other drivers that you have only just passed and lack experience, you are helping them and yourself. We were all learner drivers once and many will help you out a little. This applies to P-Plates too!

Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995

The new drivers act applies to every motorist who passed their first full driving test after 1 June 1997. The act is a probationary period that lasts for 2 years from when you passed your first practical driving test.

Normally you can get up to 12 points on your driving licence before it's revoked. But under the new drivers act, if you reach 6 or more penalty points your driving licence will be revoked. Any penalty points you have from your provisional driving licence will be automatically carried over to your full driving licence. It is the date of the offence that is relevant to the penalty points, not the date of conviction. Revocation of your driving licence will still happen even if the two year probation period has elapsed before the penalty points are then imposed for an offence that occurred within the first 24 months.

If you lose your driving licence under the new drivers act, you'll need to re-sit both the theory test and the practical driving test all over again. The first thing you'll need to do is apply for a new provisional driving licence (fee applies). Then you'll need to book your theory test and once you've passed, you can then book your driving test. If you lost your driving licence under the new drivers act, you cannot use the forms or online services and will need to call the DVSA on 0300 200 1122 about renewing your provisional driving licence and booking your tests.

Documents

When you purchase a car it's important to register yourself as the new keeper immediately and keep the (V5C) document in a safe place. Ensure you have valid motor insurance, road tax and a MOT certificate before you attempt to drive it. If you get caught driving with no insurance, the police can have your car crushed and you could lose your driving licence.

Driving with passengers

You will probably be keen to show your friends and family your driving skills, but having passengers in the car can be a big distraction. Do not let your passengers distract you from driving or allow them to encourage you to drive dangerously.

Remember it's your driving licence!

Seatbelts

Always ensure that everyone wears a seltbelt. Those in the back of your car are more likely not to wear one. If your passengers do not want to wear a seltbelt, they can always travel by some other means.

Remember it's your car!

Drug driving

Do not drive under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs and so called legal highs. Even some prescription medication can affect your ability to drive safely - always read the label.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the legal limit for alcohol is; 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of breath, 107 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of urine

In Scotland the legal limit for alcohol is; 50 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood, 22 micrograms of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of breath, 67 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of urine

"If you have drunk alcohol or taken drugs, don't drive!"

Speed awareness

When you were learning to drive, you would of been taught speed awareness in preparation for your driving test. Once you pass your driving test, you may feel bullied or intimidated into breaking the speed limit by passengers or other drivers. Remember it's your car, your driving licence and your life!

Driving on rural roads

Depending on where you live and learned to drive, you may not have much experience of, or driven on rural roads. Many new drivers think that motorways and dual carriageways are the most dangerous roads due to them being multi-laned and high speed, but this is not true. Rural roads are the most dangerous roads due to varying speeds. Some rural roads are national speed limit and only the width of one lane. Rural roads are often unlit, bendy, hidden dips, optical illusions, slippery and have other dangers such as; other vehicles, tractors and farm/wild animals.

Driving at night

Driving at night between 12pm and 6am is the most dangerous time for new drivers, so avoid driving at night unless it is essential.

One of the main dangers at night is visibility. Other road users and especially pedestrians are harder to see.

Many wild animals that wonder in the road will be startled by the headlights and may just freeze in the road instead of getting out the way. To them, the headlights are big scary monster eyes!

On unlit roads you can switch your headlights from dipped to main beam to improve visibility, but you must dip your headlight again when there is an oncoming vehicle, in order not to dazzle or blind them with your headlights.

If you get temporarily blinded by the headlights of oncoming vehicles or even following vehicles due to light reflecting off the mirror, making it potentially dangerous to drive. If this happens you should reduce your speed and pull up in a safe place until your vision is back to normal.

Don't forget that if the vehicle behind is dazzling you, you can use the anti-dazzle switch on the mirror. You must remember to switch the anti-dazzle back off when the vehicle has gone or turned down their headlights. Some modern cars have a light sensor and the anti-dazzle is automatic.

Driving in the sunshine

It can seem like a really nice time to drive and you'd be right. However, there are some dangers to driving in the sun.

Cars can get really hot in the summer sunshine, which can make you dehydrate and can affect concentration. Much like the headlights from vehicles at night, the sunshine glare can temporarily blind you making it unsafe to drive. When driving through wooded areas, the trees and shrubs can cause a strobing effect. In the winter, during sunrise and during sunset, the sun is very low in the sky and will shine straight into your eyes making it dangerous for driving. If this happens you should reduce your speed and pull up in a safe place until your vision is back to normal.

Driving on wet roads

On wet roads it can take four times the distance to stop. This increased stopping distance is due to the tyres not having as much traction as on a dry road. Rain can seriously reduce visibility even after it has stopped due to spray from vehicle tyres. After a long dry spell you can get a build up of contaminents in the road surface and when it rains, these can cause the surface to be very slippery until they are washed away by the rain.

Driving on icy roads

On icy roads it will increase your overall stopping distance and it can take ten times longer to stop. As with driving on a wet road, this is due to the tyres not having as much or in this case, no traction. Snow can seriously reduce visibility especially at night as the headlights will reflect of the snow creating a wall of white in front of the vehicle. You may find it difficult to get the car moving due to traction, but selecting a higher such as 2nd and slipping the clutch can help. Cornering can be particularly dangerous as the rear end is likely to slide as the weight is transfered. Many mordern cars have traction control, but this does not mean it's safe to drive in icy conditions.

Driving on lose surfaces

There will be times when you drive on a lose surface such as; gravel, mud and leaves. This can be very simular to driving on wet or icy surfaces. Your stopping distance will be increased and traction decreased. You should take the same precautions on these surfaces as you would on wet and icy surfaces. When driving on lose surfaces such as gravel and mud, you need to be careful of stones that may flick up and damage paintwork or windscreens.

Competitive driving

Do not show off or compete with other drivers who are driving badly. It can seem like fun, but many drivers are injured or killed everyday from competitive driving.

Real driving is not a game. If you or others get injured or killed, you don't get to restart and everyones back to full health and things are magically fixed. It really will be game over and there's no get out of jail free card to stop you from going to jail!

High powered cars

When you learn to drive and pass your driving test you may be tempted to buy a high powered car, but you would of probably learned to drive in a small low powered car. You will not have developed the driving experience to control a high powered car safely, unless you have done additional training such as one of our advanced driving courses. When you purchase a car you'll need a new driver motor insurance policy will not be cheap, so why purchase a car that going to cost you the earth? Many small cars now do not even need road tax.

Contact numbers for DVLA & DVSA

DVLA: 0300 790 6801
Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm
Saturday, 8am to 2pm

DVSA: 0300 200 1122
Monday to Friday, 8am to midday

Useful external links

Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995
Penalty points: new drivers
Drugs and driving
The drink drive limit
Vehicle registration
Tax your vehicle
Check the MOT history of a vehicle
Checking your vehicle is on the MID
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DISCLAIMER
Although we make every effort to ensure that the information, advice and website links on this page are correct and current. We except no liability for the correctness or use. If you find any information or advice to be incorrect or outdated, or if you find any broken or invalid website links, please let us know so that we can update it. Thank you!