Before you head out onto British public roads for the first time, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the rules of the road. These are succinctly summarised in a document called the Highway Code, which contains 307 different rules for road users to abide by.
In most cases, you can internalise the rules through practice. Just get yourself some temporary learner’s insurance, and get some miles under your belt.
Of course, few new drivers learn the entire code by heart. In most cases, this isn’t a problem – many existing drivers aren’t even aware when the rules change. But some rules are worth knowing. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common mistakes made by new drivers, and how they might be avoided.
Rule 174 clearly states that you shouldn’t stop on a box junction (these are the crisscrossed areas of yellow tarmac). That means that you’re not allowed to enter the box unless you have room to emerge on the other side. The exception comes when you’re turning right, and the only thing preventing you from proceeding is other traffic.
Rules 103 and 104 cover signalling. You’ll want to make sure that you signal well in advance of the manoevre you’re making, and that your intentions are clear to other road users. This can throw up problems if there are multiple successive turns. In this case, it’s a good idea to slow down so that you can signal just before the road you’re turning into.
Oversteer occurs when your rear wheels slide out behind you. It usually comes about as a result of excessive acceleration, steering, and braking. Remember that the road isn’t a racetrack – if you’re losing traction, you might be driving dangerously. A loss of traction might also be a result of poor or underinflated tyres, so make sure that the car is in good condition and examine it regularly.
Your car comes equipped with brake lights and headlights. You’ll need to know when to use your full beams, your dipped headlights, and your fog lights. Don’t wait until you come across bad weather before you use these: get acquainted with them as early as possible and learn where you turn them on and off.
These provide warnings about the state of the car. It’s worth learning what each of these means. In most cases, it’s straightforward. Don’t think that by ignoring a dashboard light, you’ll get rid of it. They’re there for a reason.
Speed limits aren’t just a suggestion, but a legal requirement. By going too fast, you’ll make the likelihood of an accident that much higher. In most cases, you’ll be driving at thirty, forty, sixty, or seventy miles per hour. Pay attention to the signs and abide by them.