You’ve passed your driving test, and now you’re planning chilled out Sunday drives, shopping trips and going to Galway or Dublin for a wee spin, just because you can.
But as a new Northern Ireland driver, you want to make sure you’re safe, other road users are safe and that you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself.
Here are our eight top tips for every new driver.
1. Practice. And when you’ve finished practising, practice some more.
After you pass your driving test, it doesn’t mean you’re the perfect driver.
Your lack of experience opens you up to situations you may not have encountered before: treacherous weather, heavy traffic, night-time driving and long journeys.
And the only way to get that experience is to practice regularly.
2. Know when to drive and when not to drive.
This may sound like a contradiction of point one above.
But it’s just as important to know when not to drive and when to drive.
For example, if there’s a couple of feet of snow, it’s too dangerous and treacherous to practice.
Knowing when to drive and when not to drive is critical for you and other road users.
Of course, practice in rain and wind but don’t be tempted to go out in snow, ice or fog until you’re confident to deal with the many scenarios you could come across.
3. Get to know your car, how it works and where everything is.
It might sound like common sense but imagine this scenario.
You’re out driving and suddenly come into thick fog. You don’t know how or where your fog lights are, and you’re worried about other cars seeing you.
Before you do any major driving, understand what every button, stick and light is and what situations you might need them in.
For a quick introduction to your car, type your make and model into Youtube, for example, ‘Ford Focus year 2016 tips’.
4. Practice with an experienced driver.
You’ve waited for this day for so long, and now you want to collect your friends and hit the open road.
But, wait a second.
Before you and your friends plan any trips, you should practice with a responsible, experienced driver.
Shannon Doyle from New Driver NI says, “Always take out an experienced driver with you when you first get your driving licence; they’ll be able to offer invaluable advice and reassurance.”
5. Turn the radio off.
“Turn that radio down so I can concentrate!” You’ve heard your mum and dad say that so many times over the years, haven’t you?
And they’ve got a point; distractions while driving are a lethal combination.
Before you switch on Cool FM or Q Radio, leave it a little while.
Any distractions are unwelcome as a new driver, so it’s best to leave the radio off for the first while.
You can sing Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved at home, not while driving.
6. Use your handbrake regularly.
We’re sure if we asked you one of the things about your driving lessons and test that made you shudder it was probably the dreaded hill starts.
Trying to find the bite point, or conking out, it was probably the hardest thing you’ve done in a car.
But that’s where your good ol’ handbrake comes in to help.
Get into the habit early in your driving life to use the handbrake when you need it.
If you’re in traffic, put your handbrake up and take your car out of gear.
On a dreaded hill? Your handbrake is vital here to ensure you don’t roll backwards and collide with the car behind.
7. Never speed.
We couldn’t compile a list of top tips without mentioning speed.
One hundred and twelve motorists a day are caught speeding in Northern Ireland.
And if you don’t want to join that scary statistic then keep an eye on your speedometer.
If you’re a new driver, you will have to stick to a speed limit of 45mph for your first year.
But don’t go 45mph if the conditions don’t suit it.
If there’s bad weather or darkness, err on the side of caution and go slower.
8. Enjoy yourself.
You’ve done the hard part and passed your test.
You now have the independence to drive anywhere you want, so remember, enjoy yourself!
Keep up to date with all the Northern Ireland driving news, tips and tricks on the New Driver NI website.