Handy driving tips for learner drivers

1. Ten very handy tips for passing your driving theory test Plus Icon

Getting prepared

  1. Your driving theory test is designed to help you get to know about the hazards and road signs you'll come across while you're driving. So, when you're a passenger with your friends or family, try and spot the various hazards during the journey.
  2. An online practice theory test is a great way to revise for the real thing. If you're struggling with certain questions just ask your driving instructor to explain the answer to you. Hearing the reason from them will help you get your head around it and remember it.
  3. Practise, practise, practise and keep practising until you feel confident!

The night before...

  1. Get everything ready the night before, remember both parts of your provisional driving license and your booking confirmation number. Without these you won't be able to take your test and we're sure you don't want to have to put if off any longer! And remember to allow plenty of time to get to the test centre, it's better to be relaxed than stressed out.

The theory test

  1. There are two parts to the theory test: a multiple choice and a hazard perception test. If you fail one part it means you'll have to retake the whole test again.

Multiple choice

  1. A good idea is to take the practice test at the very beginning to help you get used to answering these kind of questions. And remember, you only need to answer 43 questions correctly out of 50 to pass.
  2. Take. Your. Time. Don't rush, just read every question carefully and if there are any you're not sure about, just highlight them and come back to them later on. Most importantly, make sure you leave a little bit of time at the end just so you can read through your answers again.
  3. Now, before you get started with the hazard perception test you get a short break. Make sure you take the break, relax for a few minutes and get yourself refocused.

Hazard perception test

  1. There are 14 one-minute video clips that show various different hazards as they develop. 13 of the clips will only show one hazard, but in one of the clips there will be two hazards to look out for. Be very aware of when you need to reduce your speed, swerve or stop.
  2. As soon as you see that hazard developing on your screen, click to show you know it's about to happen. The highest score you can get for each hazard is five points for spotting it at the earliest opportunity. Your first click might even be a little too early so it's worthwhile clicking again. Remember though, make sure you're not clicking constantly throughout the entire video as you will then fail the test.

And that's it, just follow these tips and you'll be closer to passing your test! Prepare well, take your time and stay calm and you'll pass with flying colours and will soon be ready for the next stage, your practical driving test.

2. Top tips for passing your driving test Plus Icon

Before the test

  1. On the day of the test there are some important things you need to remember to take with you. These are:
  • Your valid provisional licence including the paper part.
  • Your pass certificate from your theory test.
  • Your glasses (if you need them for driving) as you will have to take an eyesight test where you need to read a number plate from 20 metres away.
  1. Have a driving lesson before your test. It will help you get used to being in the car and it's also the perfect time to run through anything you're still a little bit unsure of with your driving instructor.
  2. Get to the test centre early, so you won't feel rushed or flustered. You can park up and calm your nerves (not to mention take a toilet break!).
  3. Before your test starts, your examiner will ask you two 'show me, tell me' questions about the car. These will be vehicle safety questions and could include brakes, engine oil, headlights, indicators, power steering, tyre pressure or window washers. You'll have to explain to the examiner what your safety check would be for the car part they ask you about, so make sure you get a family member or your driving instructor to show you how all of these work.

When it starts

  1. The test lasts 40 minutes and you'll need to show your knowledge of the Highway Code. Make sure you concentrate on everything that's going on around you and drive with confidence. If you make a mistake it's not the end of the world, just stay calm and carry on driving.
  2. You'll have to perform one manoeuvre that could be a turn in the road, a bay park, a parallel park or a reverse around the corner. You'll also be asked to perform an emergency stop.
  3. If the examiner asks you to do something and you don't understand what they mean, don't be afraid to ask!
  4. During the test you'll be asked to do 10 minutes of independent driving. You'll need to follow directions or traffic signs without the examiner telling you what to do. This is to make sure you can safely navigate while you drive and make decisions on your own, so make sure you've practised this kind of driving.
  5. If you stall the car, don't panic! Stay confident, restart the engine, check for any other hazards and then pull off again if it's safe.
  6. To pass your test you can make a minimum of 15 minor driving errors but no serious or dangerous faults. But don't spend the whole test trying to guess whether you've made a mistake or not, just concentrate on driving.
  7. So, just follow these tips and you'll be one step closer to passing your driving test! When you pass you'll be ready to enter the exciting world of buying your first car and the world of insurance. Check out Marmalade's guide to buying and insuring your first car.

3. Ten clever little tips for driving at night Plus Icon

Accidents on Britain's roads are more likely to happen at night than during the day, with more than half of road deaths taking place at night. So make sure you follow these important driving tips to keep you safer after dark.

  1. Before you set off make sure your windows, mirrors and lights are clean. Dirty headlights will affect the brightness of the light shining through and smeared windows or mirrors will make it harder for you to see what's around you.
  2. Your dashboard lights can be bright at night, so bright in fact that they can make it harder to see out of the windscreen. Make sure you dim yours down before you set off.
  3. Animals tend to come out at night, so when you're driving on a country road after dark keep an eye out.
  4. Check your headlights, if they are not aimed in the right position they could dazzle oncoming drivers. And this isn't just on old cars, you need to check your new car too!
  5. If you wear prescription glasses and you're finding driving at night quite tricky, try and get some lenses that have anti-reflective coating. These can help reduce the glare from other car's lights. Some people say that wearing sunglasses at night will help with glare but this is every bit as silly as it sounds as well as being very dangerous!
  6. Feeling sleepy? Then stop and take a break. Relying on loud music and coffee is no good, but stopping, resting your eyes, having a bite to eat and a bit of exercise will all help to sharpen up your concentration.
  7. This is a pretty obvious one but we'll say it anyway... don't drink and drive! Alcohol acts like a depressant in the body and even a single drink can make you tired and affect your concentration.
  8. If you break down at night try and park as far off the road as you can and put on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that you're there.
  9. Don't flash your lights to oncoming traffic (even if you just want to say thank you) as it will make it harder for them to see. If the lights of a car behind you are too bright just adjust your rear view mirror to help you avoid the reflection.
  10. Be more cautious at night even on familiar roads. Don't look at your phone, load a CD or eat while you're driving. You should also avoid using the interior lights in your car while you're driving. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds could cause an accident.

4. Top reminders to help you stay safe in the wintry conditions Plus Icon

In case you're setting off on a long journey in the cold weather, or just popping round the corner to a friend's in your four wheels, here are a few obvious reminders to keep you safe:

  1. Keep up with your car maintenance – making sure your tyres have sufficient tread, the oil, water and screenwash is topped up, as well as making sure you have added anti-freeze to your water. Keeping some de-icer and a scraper in the car will come in handy too!
  2. It might be a short trip but don't be tempted to set off until all your windows are clear - snow wipes off easily but windows have a horrible habit of misting up when you set off and if the sun just happens to be out, it's really low this time of year and ends up dazzling!
  3. Remove any snow from your car roof too - you can guarantee the minute you come to brake at your first junction, a load of snow will fall forwards and dump itself on your windscreen. Just terrific!
  4. The road might look clear but black ice has a nasty habit of surprising you so pull away carefully and slow down as you approach bends as it's easy to over steer.
  5. Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front. Double or even triple the usual stopping distance is advised by the experts. And give a wide berth to cyclists and any pedestrians who have an unfathomable habit of walking in the roadway when paths become hazardous!
  6. And, if you can, why not stick to the major roads - chances are these will be gritted and clear. Back roads might feel like a shortcut but not if they're covered in snow or slush!

5. Taking a road trip? A few driving tips for holiday motoring in the UK? Plus Icon

Plan your journey - keeps the nerve levels down; it also means less chance of wasting fuel as you take the right route first time!

Avoid rush hour - why join the rest of the holiday crowds when you could enjoy a relaxing, empty road journey. It also means you'll get there much quicker - and safer!

Check your important basics - lights, oil, washer fluid, tyre tread and pressure. You want to be treated as a responsible driver on the roads, so it's best to act like one It also means you can say 'yes' with a smug smile on your face when your parents ask the question!

Fill up before you hit the motorway - this will save you some money which you can spend when you reach your destination!

If it's a lengthy journey and you're not used to being behind the wheel of the car for so long, break it up with some stops at service stations along the way. Get out, stretch your legs, and head for the nearest coffee point!

Finally - driving should always be fun in our book, so enjoy the journey and have a great time - wherever it is you're heading!