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A guide to getting back behind the wheel

Returning to the road after a break can be a daunting experience. Whether it’s been a while since you passed your test or you’ve simply taken a break from driving, there is plenty you can do to rebuild your confidence and return to the road safely. 

Here’s a checklist of simple steps to help ease you back into driving. 

Check your car is ready for the road 

To make sure your car is in the right condition to hit the road, it may need a little attention. As a minimum: 

  • Make sure your tyres are inflated to the right pressure. This is especially important if your car has been unused for a long period of time.
  • Check your tyres have enough tread: by law, each tyre on a vehicle must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm[1].
  • Before starting the engine, ensure fluids are topped up, including screen wash, engine oil and your fuel.
  • Ensure all of your car’s lights are working. Simply turn them on and check, or ask someone else if they can help, when parked in a safe place to do so.
  • Check to see if there are any animals nesting under the bonnet or that have damaged any pipes or hoses.
  • When it’s safe, put the car in gear and drive gently in order to check the brakes, as they may have seized up if the car was left with the handbrake on[2] for a long time.
  • If your car won’t start, it’s most likely to be due to a flat battery.  One way to deal with a flat battery is to jump start the car. But you should only do this if you feel confident you can do it safely, following the guidelines in your car’s user manual. If not, then you may need to call for assistance[3].

Ensure your paperwork is up to date 

Make sure you are properly insured, your car is taxed and has a valid MOT, and your driving licence details are up to date. 

If you previously registered your vehicle as off the road (SORN), then taxing it will cancel the SORN[4]

Refamiliarise yourself with the rules of the road 

Try and get yourself up to date with the latest driving rules before you head back out onto the roads. For example, low emissions zones are being gradually rolled out in many UK cities and the rules around the use of phone while driving are getting stricter[5].

Take your time 

It’s important to take the time to put your seat and mirrors in the correct positions and remind yourself on how to use your car’s basic controls, like the lights and wipers. 

Before hitting a busy road, you may want to start your journey somewhere quieter to refamiliarise yourself with your car and even practice a few manoeuvres. It may only take a short practice to help regain some of your confidence behind the wheel. 

Start with an easy journey 

It’s probably best to avoid starting your return to the road with a long or unfamiliar journey. 

  • Avoid driving in the dark, in bad weather or at rush hour until you feel more confident.
  • Take the time to plan your route and think ahead, even if you’re only going to the shops.
  • If you’re taking a longer journey, plan ahead to avoid any unexpected  junctions or busy roads if need be, and plan in regular stops so you have time to rest.
  • Concentrate on your driving, and don’t let yourself be pressured into driving faster than you feel happy with.

Avoid distractions 

For some people, having a passenger in the car can be a real help, providing reassurance and - if they’re an experienced driver - some helpful knowledge and experience. 

For others, passengers can be distracting. If that’s the case for you, then try and avoid taking someone with you on those first drives after a break. 

Beware of other distractions too: turn off your mobile, avoid fiddling with the radio and give the road your full attention. 

Get your car serviced 

Even if your car seems to be in good shape once you have it back on the road, if it had been left unused for a long time, it is probably a good idea to have it serviced[6]

A service will help ensure that your car remains in good condition,  and will provide you with  more confidence when behind the wheel. 

Following a few simple steps before returning to the road can help ensure that you’ll be a more confident and safer driver. 

If you’re getting back behind the wheel, then Rias is here to help. Start your quote today and see what we could do for you.