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Kimberley Dodge profile

Kimberley Dodge

September 24, 2018

Driving advice Owning a car Young driver stories 5 min read

You’ve made it. You’ve passed the test, you’ve got your license and you’ve got your very own car. The freedom that learning to drive promised has finally arrived and you’re relishing every moment of it. Driving yourself around may have seemed terrifying at first, but you soon start to enjoy all the laughter-filled road trips with friends and in-car karaoke on the way to Sainsbury’s with mum. Starting to relax behind the wheel, you gain confidence in your driving ability: the speed dials on the dashboard start to creep higher, you attempt to park in tighter spaces and begin to forget to check up on the maintenance of your beloved vehicle.

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Snap back to reality

Then, before you know it, it all comes crashing down like a massive lorry sideswiping a Mini Cooper.

However, never feel like all is utterly lost. Minor accidents, prangs and repairs happen to everyone; even the most experienced of drivers! Just ask your parents, I bet you any money that they had a few scrapes themselves during their early driving years.

Recently, I have admittedly fallen victim to this curse of confidence, discovering the bank crippling costs of a vehicles upkeep. Checking your tyres regularly is essential to ensure that there is no damage or punctures, something I have learnt my lesson to do more often. Despite people commenting that my back tyres looked a little flat, I kept delaying checking them out, making excuses like ‘I don’t have time today’ or ‘I can’t find 50p change to put into the gauge’. Long story short, my mum finally forced me to check the pressure, revealing the horror of two slow punctures in both of my back tyres.

Yet, this problem was easily solvable… or so I believed. A trip to the garage and a fairly cheap puncture repair would soon remedy my dilemma, right?

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Two completely new back wheels, a wheel alignment reset and nearly £200 later, I was feeling extremely depressed by the disappearance of my most recent paycheck. Had I investigated into my tyres sooner, it was unlikely that I wouldn’t have had to have the entire wheels replaced, as driving around on flat tyres had worn down my wheels to a dangerous extent. Moral of the story: don’t get lazy with your car’s maintenance.

Just when you’d think that fate would have dished me up my monthly serving of bad luck already, I found myself with a massive scratch and deep, DEEP dent on the passenger side of my car. The scrape was entirely my fault and involved no other drivers directly, as I basically got flustered trying to move out of an impatient drivers’ way in a very narrow car park, resulting in myself ramming sideways into a towering, concrete post.

This was the cherry on top of my cake of crumbling confidence, as I sat, crying on the phone to my mum, scared to get out of my car to take in the extent of the damage. I felt like I was back at square one, a learner driver all over again, completely incompetent behind the wheel. The confidence I had built up as a new driver was rapidly deteriorating, heightened by the prospect of a damaged car and an even more damaging repair fee.

Mum’s got your back

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You can always rely on your mum to calm you down! She soon helped me to rationalise things, making me realise that these sort of bumps and prangs happen to everyone whilst they’re getting used to driving, so there’s no reason to feel stupid about having a bit of a bash. Luckily for me, the damage is only cosmetic, meaning the car is still in perfect running order. Moving forward, I’ve learnt from my mistake, now knowing that regardless of the annoyance of other drivers, I can’t afford to allow myself to spiral into a panic behind the wheel (I quite literally can’t afford it). Instead, keeping calm and remaining aware is essential to avoid accidents. Yet, sometimes these things happen, so don’t beat yourself up about it: just get back behind the wheel and work on your driving skills. You’ll soon start to forget about that huge dent on the side of your car, giving you your motoring mojo back!

Kimberley Dodge profile

By Kimberley Dodge

'For me, driving means freedom. I passed my test a year ago and so I’ve been enjoying getting where I want, when I want. I’m now 18, so having my own car has given me a lot more independence: I no longer have to rely on the taxi of mum and dad!'  See more posts by Kimberley

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