New drivers often lack the experience of drivers with a few years under their belts, which can lead to some common mistakes. Here are the ones to watch out fo
As the old saying goes – “pobody’s nerfect”, or something like that – you get the picture.
That does mean that, as a new driver, there’s a chance you might make a mistake on the road. Hopefully, the consequences will amount to nothing more than slamming the brakes and yelling a few choice profanities, but they could be much worse if you’ve been negligent.
The team at are here to help with this list of the most common mistakes made by new drivers. Read this list to learn about the errors that can lead to these dangers, helping you avoid them before they happen.
Common mistakes made by new drivers
Keep reading to see the most common new driver mistakes.
You’ve passed your test, so you’re probably the best driver in the world right? Well, of course you’re not, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of overconfidence after you’ve been driving solo for a little while.
Overconfidence is most likely to bite on the routes you drive regularly, say to work or to school. These are usually the same every day, which can lull you into a false sense of security and lead you to pay less attention to your surroundings than you should. This can easily lead to an accident if another motorist does something you’re not expecting, such as pull out in front of you at a junction.
Avoiding overconfidence can be a bit of a balancing act. It’s important that you feel confident when driving your vehicle because this will likely make you a safer and less hesitant driver, but you need to watch out for moments where overconfidence is likely to creep in, such as tackling a familiar route for the hundredth time.
Another common and entirely avoidable mistake is speeding. As you use your car more regularly, you’re likely to encounter certain roads where, seemingly, everyone is driving at least 10mph faster than the posted speed limit. In these situations, it can be hard to avoid the temptation to follow traffic at a similar speed.
We’d strongly suggest avoiding that temptation, however. Police officers are extremely unlikely to accept “everyone else was doing it” as a justification for you breaking the speed limit and, as a new driver, you could lose your licence if you collect six points in your first two years on the road.
Speeding is, obviously, dangerous. It gives you and everyone around you less time to react to any unexpected or unforeseen dangers that might cross your car’s path, and means the severity of any crash you have will be higher than if you’d been travelling within the speed limit.
Using your phone
This mistake has become terrifyingly common in the 21st century. You only need to watch passing traffic for a few minutes to see how many drivers are still using their phones on the road, despite it being illegal since 2003.
With the avalanche of notifications and interactions that pop up every few minutes on your phone’s screen, it can sometimes feel tempting to quickly reply to that text or answer that call while you think no one’s looking. This can very easily lead to an accident because you’ll invariably have to take your eyes off the road to interact with your phone, giving you little to no time to react to any dangers that present themselves.
Turn it off, leave it at home, put it in the boot or shove it to the bottom of your bag – it doesn’t matter how you save yourself from the temptation of using your phone on the road, just make sure you do it. Using your phone on the road can put six penalty points on your licence which, for new drivers, means an instant driving ban.
You are permitted to use your phone for functions such as calls and GPS if it’s connected to your car via Bluetooth, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The key detail here is you must be able to operate it hands free, and must not touch the phone while you’re driving. Even in this scenario, remember that these functions can still be a big distraction and the police will still give you a ticket if they feel you were using this technology in a dangerous manner.
Carrying excitable passengers
The sudden extra dose of freedom you get from having your own car means it can be tempting to load up all your mates and head off for an adventure.
While we don’t want to crush your pioneer spirit, you should know that having your friends in the car, especially if they’re feeling excitable, is a recipe for mistakes. Risks here range from loud conversations that might compete for your attention, to outright dangerous behaviour.
We’d suggest building up to these kinds of trips slowly. Take one of your calmer friends out for a few journeys first and get used to driving with passengers. As you get better at shutting out the background noise to focus on the job of driving, you can build up to carrying more people.
Getting into bad habits
You’ve passed your test, which means you can now drive around unaided without anyone keeping an eye on what you’re doing. This probably means you’ll relax some of the more strict standards you learned for your test, such as driving with just one hand on the wheel. We’re not here to police how you hold the steering wheel, but we want to encourage you to avoid other bad habits that put you at an increased risk of crashing.
The most critical is to keep up your observations while you’re out on the road. It can feel like a hassle to check every single angle around your car before pulling off, especially when it feels like a glance in the door mirror will suffice, but this is one of the most common causes of accidents. Keeping an eye on the road all around you means you’re much more likely to spot obstacles or dangers long before you reach them, giving you time to react safely.
Not adjusting your driving style to suit the conditions
Hopefully, while learning to drive, you got the chance to tackle the roads in bad weather. If you avoided the winter months, however, the first time you drive in treacherous conditions might be on your own. Stopping distances and corning grip in the wet and cold are significantly worse, which can easily lead to an accident.
It’s important that you adjust the way you drive to suit the conditions. If it’s snowing or icy, for instance, drop your speed well below the posted speed limit and increase your following distance to the car in front, giving you more time to react and stop if needed. The same is true in the rain, where stopping can be harder and spray kicked up on faster roads can make it harder for drivers to see each other.
Adjusting for conditions doesn’t just refer to the weather, however. It also extends to adapting your driving for the type of road you’re on. This can be a motorway, for instance, where closing speeds between cars in different lanes can be much higher, so you need to check much further behind you than normal before changing lanes. Similarly, many UK country roads have a 60mph speed limit but their narrow paths and tall hedges mean going that speed would be incredibly dangerous – here, you’d need to drop your speed substantially to account for any sudden stops you might be forced to make.
Driving under the influence
Another big yet entirely avoidable risk factor for new drivers is driving under the influence. This commonly refers to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but the risk also extends to drivers operating on very little sleep, which is known to be as dangerous as other intoxicants.
For this scenario, the easy answer to avoiding this risk is simply not to drink or take drugs, and to make sure you get a decent night’s sleep. However, if you’re out with your friends and have indulged a little too much, the answer in these situations is to leave your car where it is and get a taxi or public transport home. You can then completely sober up and come back to collect your car when you’re safe to drive again.
In a pinch, there are even online services you can book that will send out a designated driver to collect you in your own car and drive you home for a fee.
Getting upset or annoyed
A sad reality of driving is that there are many, many idiots out on the road. You might well be wondering, since you worked so hard to get your own licence, how any of these other drivers passed their test. Everything from tailgaters, to drivers cutting in front of you, to half-asleep middle-lane hogs, is enough to make you want to pull your hair out.
As hard as it can be, however, you’ll be doing yourself a big favour if you can take a big breath and let these annoyances go. Sure, that complete muppet might’ve leapt out in front of you at a crossroads but laying on the horn and yelling expletives at them will achieve nothing other than a bump in your blood pressure.
Being able to let on-road annoyances go will make you a much calmer and safer driver, and means you’re likely to arrive wherever you’re going in a good mood.
Relying on other motorists to do the right thing
As mentioned above, you’re going to encounter more than your fair share of bad drivers out on the roads. You might’ve studied the Highway Code closely to secure your driving licence, but it’ll sometimes feel like you’re the only one out there who’s ever read it.
As such, a common mistake new drivers make is assuming that other drivers will behave as the Highway Code requires them. A classic example is assuming someone ahead of you at a roundabout entrance will take an upcoming gap in traffic, leading to you crashing into them when they hesitate for whatever reason. Another example is, when waiting in a box junction to turn right, assuming opposing traffic will stop when your light turns red and starting to turn, only for someone to blast through the red lights at the last second.
To keep yourself safe from these scenarios, drive under the assumption that everyone around you could break the rules at any time. That way, when they inevitably do, it won’t feel like such a surprise. In addition, this is another reason to always give yourself plenty of space to other motorists on the off chance that they do something sudden or dangerous.
Forgetting to maintain your car
Cars are complex machines with, in many cases, thousands of moving parts built to exacting tolerances. They need regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly, which can feel like an annoyance if you have to stump up a few hundred pounds for an annual service.
However, it’s always going to be much cheaper to spend a few hundred pounds every so often on maintenance, than being forced to drop many thousands on a replacement engine or gearbox further down the line.
Lots of simple maintenance tasks such as checking your tyres, topping up your oil or keeping your car clean are easy to handle yourself. For any more involved repairs, however, we’d recommend taking your car to a professional garage, and keeping the receipts for all work carried out. Regular maintenance can keep your car running properly for many years after its manufacturer’s warranty runs out, helping you save money in the long run.