Woodwin Auto Tips - Automotive Tips for Beginners
Learning about Driving
Learning to drive your first car
It’s wonderful to reach the age where you might soon acquire a car, but the first hurdle is acquiring your licence. There are a few requirements for obtaining a driver’s licence, and these may vary based on which state or region of the country you live in. If we use NSW/Australia as an example, you must be at least 16 years old, pass the driving knowledge test, and be able to establish your identity, pass the eyesight test, and then pay for it all.
If you are under the age of 25, you will be given a learners licence for 12 months and will be required to complete 120 hours of supervised driving practise, including 20 hours of night driving.
Driving at night has many dangers
I strongly advise you to strive to accomplish much more than 20 hours of night driving because it is the most dangerous time for us to be driving.
Our bodies are susceptible to sleepiness when the sun sets. Most of us have a regular routine for going to bed at a set hour, and we tend to automatically feel sleepy around this time. If we are driving about at night at this time, we are at greater risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
If you fall asleep while driving at 100 km/hr, you have unleashed roughly 2 tonnes of metal along the road with no one in control, at a speed that would produce a catastrophic disaster if it collided with something. You could end up drifting off the road and striking with a tree or structure, or you could deviate across the white lines and collide with an incoming vehicle, potentially killing everyone involved.
Forget about how badly your automobile will crumple if you strike a tree at 100 km/hr. If you hit a tree at that speed while wearing your seat belt and let’s say you weigh 70kg, the force of impact on your body is equivalent to being hit with 13.8 tonnes of mass.
Driving at night on monotonous highways is extremely dangerous since your mind can wander and you can occasionally become fascinated by the white lines on the road. Either of these things could put you in a perilous scenario, not just for yourself but also for oncoming drivers.
The light from oncoming traffic is one of the main causes of night vision problems for drivers. Although vehicle headlights are intended to improve night time visibility for you, they can have very unfavourable impacts on other drivers.
The glare from driving light beams can slow your reaction time, be annoying, and dangerously distract you. You must always remember to dim your high beams as soon as you notice an oncoming vehicle.
The rules may state that you should dim your high beams when you are within 200 metres of another vehicle, but that is the absolute minimum; some modern vehicles have lights that are significantly more intensely bright than what was available when the rule book was published.
Dusk and Dawn have their own set of Dangers
It is also critical that you obtain some experience driving at dusk and dawn, as the sun can shine straight into drivers’ eyes at these times, causing many motorists to drive with a glare. This impairs the driver’s ability to see the road ahead and recognise potential dangers, such as 80 tonnes of oncoming truck travelling at 100km/hr.
When driving during these periods, keep in mind that the official speed limit only applies to ideal conditions; therefore adjust your speed to the conditions you’re in and slow down.
During these occasions, wear high-quality sunglasses. If the glare is unbearable, pull over somewhere safe and wait a few minutes for the sun to move. Use your sun visor as well, as you can twist it around to help block out the sun.
Kangaroos on Australian Roads
For those who live in Australia, dusk and dawn are the most likely times to encounter a kangaroo (roo) on the side of the road, and because you never know whether a roo will jump out in front of you, your only option is to slow down immediately in a controlled manner to wash off as much speed as possible; never swerve as you then endanger everyone else on the road.
If a roo jumps out in front of you, it all occurs in an instant, and you never know whether they will merely hit the side of your car or leap up over your bonnet and come in through your windscreen.
Your best defence is to always assume that a roo will jump out in front of you, which is why driving at dusk or dawn in rural Australia is so perilous, as you are more likely to have your vision hindered by the sun beaming right into your eyes. Whatever way a roo hits your car, it will be bad, and unless you are incredibly lucky, you are unlikely to be driving home in that vehicle.
Be prepared for the worst to happen
On the Prepare Yourself and Setup Your Car pages, you may discover how to ensure you are properly prepared if you find yourself with a damaged car on the side of the road and possibly unable to drive home.
It might also be that you are injured, it’s important to prepare for any situation.
If it feels as though I’m trying to scare the pants off you about driving a motor vehicle, you are absolutely correct, there are numerous inherent dangers that you must fully comprehend.
As the English writer Lee Child famously said, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst”.
What to do when you lose traction
One of the most memorable moments you’ll have behind the wheel is the first time your tyres lose traction on the road.
It might be caused by driving on a wet road, a gravel road, an icy road, or a rear tyre blowout; whatever the cause, the best solution I can think of if you end up in one of these circumstances is to ‘apply what you’ve learnt.’
Encountering one of these scenarios without any mental preparation is likely to be far more terrifying than learning at least a little bit about what to do in advance.
Depending on where you live, your situation, and your finances, there’s at least a few ways I can think of whereby you may educate yourself on how to deal with a driving situation in which you lose control.
Firstly, if one of your parents is a champion rally driver, you should have no trouble at all learning how to control a vehicle in a skid or slide, but if that’s not your family situation, your next best option may be to pay an instructor to teach you how to cope with loss of traction conditions.
Just looking at my surrounding area online this morning, there’s at least three companies advertising that they run advanced driver training sessions for skid and slide control on skid pans and race tracks.
For a few hundred bucks, it appears that you can spend a day purposefully sending a car into a slide and learning how to effectively manage these scenarios.
Finally, rather than doing nothing, you could conduct some research on the subject online. You will find a plethora of websites and YouTube channels offering assistance in this area, and who knows, a few hours spent doing so may be the thing that allows you to remain calm and feel somewhat confident in how to respond to the situation on the day, and may save your life and the lives of others on the road around you.