Learning to drive requires more than knowing the theory of driving and an acceptable standard of practice skills. Not only do you have to master the controls of the car, and the processes involved, you need to be aware of the driving environment around you and how your vehicle interacts within it. Fundamental to this skill is the ability to control the speed of the car.
A major part of your driving lessons will focus on speed awareness. You will need to:
- learn how to judge the speed of the vehicle;
- learn how you can check your speed on the dashboard without taking focus away from the road ahead;
- learn how speed restrictions are regulated on UK roads and how to recognise when those restrictions are imposed;
- learn various ways in which to control the speed of the car.
Dangers from slow and fast driving
You can be penalised if you drive too fast or too slow – as either can cause a hazard. Going too fast can clearly be dangerous and perhaps speaks for itself, but the dangers of driving too slowly are not always so obvious. A slow vehicle on a fast road can be an unexpected hazard to other road users as it can cause traffic jams and trigger erratic driving from others, as they attempt to bypass the slower car.
This is very important to take into consideration when learning to drive because driving slowly suggests that you are nervous and uncertain. Consequently, if you are nervous you are unlikely to be in full control of the car and therefore may not be able to respond in the best possible way when dealing with hazards. A driving test examiner is therefore likely to down-mark you on your driving test if you are driving slowly consistently for no reason.
Drivers should keep to the speed given by signs on any given roads except when hazards on the road call for slower and more careful driving.
Appropriate speeds for everyday driving
Driving too fast does not necessarily mean breaking the speed limit and driving like a girl-racer. Both your driving instructor and the test examiner will be aware of the following:
- The speed at which you approach junctions
- Driving past parked cars or cyclists too fast with no clear view of the road ahead
- Inappropriate speed for maintaining safe driving distance behind other vehicles
- Inappropriate speed for approaching a hazard
- Inappropriate speed for the weather conditions
All these points reflect how a driver is responding to the hazards around them. Examiners will be looking to see that you adjust your speed appropriately.
Using speed awareness to anticipate hazards
To become speed aware, a driver must first be confident and be comfortable with the skills to control the vehicle. Once this is achieved, greater attention can be devoted to observing the surrounding environment and developing anticipation and planning. This in turn will help a learner driver to anticipate potential hazards and choose an appropriate action.
You may find yourself on a road where the speed limit is not displayed. Remember that most urban roads with street lighting will have a speed limit of 30mph. If you’re unsure reduce your speed rather than going too fast.
At Go Girl we believe the key to passing your driving test is taking it at a pace that is right for you, no need to rush. And when you are ready, be sure to visit for an an affordable quote on your new driver car insurance.