New driver comments/questions - smooth driving

New driver comments/questions - smooth driving

Author
Discussion

markyb_lcy

Original Poster:

40 posts

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
So, I finally made it to being a full UK license holder, <1m ago now ... having never really needed to but always wanted to. I'm late 30s now (embarrassing I know!). I had lessons when younger (18) and then in my late 20s too, never getting around to the test. Anyway, less of that.

I've bought a 2017 plate Golf mk7 (1.4 Tsi SE Nav). Some friends suggested buying a heap and then something better in a year. Well, I don't fancy driving a heap around even for one day! I chose a Golf for various reasons ... safety, reliability, looks etc. I've always liked these cars as a non driver. I couldn't find a single person who had a bad word against the Golf.

I'm really enjoying the car so far; the new-found freedom is awesome too! I've made some shoddy mistakes and have learned some vital things one doesn't learn as a learner. At this point, I'd like to improve my driving skill and understanding of the road system to become a better and more comfortable driver.
Does anyone have any tips for maintaining a more smooth driving experience? London roads are pretty damn bad in places. Speedbumps, potholes, confusing roundabouts where you're not sure the right lane / can't see markings etc. I'm getting fairly confident but I must admit I still have some fears.

The current one I'm really struggling with is pulling out from minor road turning right onto a multi-lane carriageway (without a lighted-junction) ... the other day I took a wrong right turn off the A2 Old Kent Road heading Nbound and had to come back around via industrial estate to such a jct to get back on it. Jesus I sat there for near-on 4 mins looking for a friendly gap and jumped out like a scared rabbit. I didn't even have anyone behind me being impatient either, so I know it could be even worse! I'm avoiding routes now where I can to avoid this, but I know I'll come up against it very soon before too long.

I'm nasty at speedbumps in the Golf. It was easy in the fiesta learner car ... reduce speed/brake on approach, accelerate when front wheels hit ramp. Maybe I'm going over them too fast but I'm mostly sticking to limits ... the 20 zones are hard work! Anybody got tips for driving over these smoothly, and the many potholes? I'm bouncing about too much on some of the shabby roads and speed-ramped areas.

What about engine braking? Is this to be avoided or should I be downshift rev matching to make the process feel smoother and less strain on the car? Or is it Brakes for braking and gears for going? I want to drive smoothly and maintain vehicle as best as possible, but the driving instructors seem big on engine braking. Do they even value their clutches?!

Also speed limits on the motorway. Man alive. I feel like I am constantly having to look at my speedo. Maybe I'm paranoid but I worry if I'm like 5mph over the limit. It's difficult to regulate. I have ACC cruise control and speed limiter and I'm only just getting to trying them. How are others regulating speed without being so distracted by it?

Edited by markyb_lcy on Monday 11th February 12:59

Haltamer

654 posts

18 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Stick at it for a while; Gain confidence as a solo driver and then look to onward development such as IAM / ROSPA. Have a watch of Reg Local's videos, I'm sure they will impart some useful tips: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8fDyubAs3eLup-3C...

As for bumps; Slowing down is really the only option - The only thing I do is brake before the bump, and then accelerate over so as not to have the front of the car lower under the weight of braking.

Everything else you've described sounds like standard fare; I wouldn't worry too hard about speed limits - Ensure your primary focus is on the road; Stick with the flow of traffic - If you've got ACC, I imagine you will also have configurable speed alarms and limiters? Pop a speed alarm on at 75mph - With the inaccuracies of speedometers, this will keep you around 70.

Oh yes; Rev matching: Always rev match your downshifts; That doesn't mean bung it into 2nd in place of using the brakes - It's still gears to go, brakes to slow - Though acceleration sense does allow you to make finer adjustments to speed.

thiscocks

1,867 posts

133 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Yes, id do engine braking as much as possible. Also Id take 20 limits with a pinch of salt. Dont fixate on the speedo, you will generally find a speed that feels right in built up areas (which will usually be around 30- sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less depending on surroundings. )

BOBTEE

980 posts

102 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
You've learned to pass your test, now you have to learn to actually drive!

Just keep getting the miles under your belt and it'll all click into place, before long you'll be eating snacks and fiddling with the radio, the driving will become second nature.

markyb_lcy

Original Poster:

40 posts

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Thanks to you all for the tips and encouragement! I'll definitely try and look down at the speedo less and use my speed limiter where appropriate. Most drivers I have spoke to seem less worried about it than I as a new driver. So, regarding the speedo "inaccuracies" ... to what level is this a thing? I mean ... should it not be pretty correct to within a very low margin of error? Am I actually doing 2/3/4mph less than it says I am? The golf can display the speed digitally in the dash display but I guess this is identical to what is on the analogue dials?

I've been watching some youtube videos on bad city driving examples so I can try and avoid committing them myself. And on the speed bumps ... I suppose I'll get a lot of practice of that just going to the supermarket (Lewisham!!)

It's good to finally be a member of the club! CHEERS! (bitter shandy)
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Gad-Westy

9,108 posts

151 months

Monday 11th February
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One little thing that I do that would help out in one of the scenarios you describe. If I find myself heading in the wrong direction in heavy traffic, I always make sure I turn off to a side street on the right rather than the left. It means that you have to give way to cross the carriage way but you're only waiting for one gap. You perform a U-turn on the quieter side street and then take a left back onto the main road. Again only having to give way to traffic in one direction. It is generally going to work out much quicker in busy flowing traffic.

Another tip I picked up years ago is to talk to yourself while driving. Give a commentary on every potential hazard you see, why its a hazard and what you're doing to mitigate it. Perhaps best done without passengers!

As for speed bumps, if you can't avoid them, at least make sure that you aren't still on the brakes as you hit them. While braking, the car's nose is diving slightly and loading up the front suspension so any further input just loads it up even more and makes for a harsher ride. I try to get all my slowing down done well before the speed bump, let the car settle and then apply a tiny bit of gentle acceleration just before speed bump to lift the nose slightly. It's not going to turn your car into a magic carpet but is a little more comfortable and more mechanically sympathetic.

thedugmaster

962 posts

97 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Get some miles under your belt, because it takes 1000's to become competent at driving in my view.

Also, if you don't already have some mechanical knowledge I'd recommend you get some. Lift the bonnet and start familiarising yourself with what's going on under there. If you have some empathy with the underlying systems you'll get a better appreciation of how vehicles work, how they steer, brake, accelerate etc. If you understand all that you'll be more at one with the 'vehicle' and in turn will get the 'feel' of what's going on.

I didn't leave it quite so late as you, I was 9 when I learnt to drive, but I still remember the joy of being out on my own at one with my car all those years ago (when I was 17).

Enjoy!


thiscocks

1,867 posts

133 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
markyb_lcy said:
So, regarding the speedo "inaccuracies" ... to what level is this a thing? I mean ... should it not be pretty correct to within a very low margin of error? Am I actually doing 2/3/4mph less than it says I am? The golf can display the speed digitally in the dash display but I guess this is identical to what is on the analogue dials?
Yes, generally you will be doing about 26/27mph at an indicated 30mph, so normally you are doing roughly 30 at an indicated 35. Yes the digital will be the same. When you get over 60mph the spedo tends get closer to actual speed but obviously will vary slightly with different cars. Its quite interesting measuring the difference if you have a gps sat nav that reads out the speed, then you can compare actual to indicated.



thedugmaster

962 posts

97 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
markyb_lcy said:
Thanks to you all for the tips and encouragement! I'll definitely try and look down at the speedo less and use my speed limiter where appropriate. Most drivers I have spoke to seem less worried about it than I as a new driver. So, regarding the speedo "inaccuracies" ... to what level is this a thing? I mean ... should it not be pretty correct to within a very low margin of error? Am I actually doing 2/3/4mph less than it says I am? The golf can display the speed digitally in the dash display but I guess this is identical to what is on the analogue dials?

I've been watching some youtube videos on bad city driving examples so I can try and avoid committing them myself. And on the speed bumps ... I suppose I'll get a lot of practice of that just going to the supermarket (Lewisham!!)

It's good to finally be a member of the club! CHEERS! (bitter shandy)
Almost everything I've ever driven reads around 5% faster than it's actually travelling in standard form.

Remember, as you wear your front tyres out the circumference will reduce (ever-so-slightly) and that increase the speed of the road wheels so it'll reduce the margin of error a little.

We're talking very small margins though.

markyb_lcy

Original Poster:

40 posts

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
Gad-Westy said:
One little thing that I do that would help out in one of the scenarios you describe. If I find myself heading in the wrong direction in heavy traffic, I always make sure I turn off to a side street on the right rather than the left. It means that you have to give way to cross the carriage way but you're only waiting for one gap. You perform a U-turn on the quieter side street and then take a left back onto the main road. Again only having to give way to traffic in one direction. It is generally going to work out much quicker in busy flowing traffic.
Yea, I think this is good advice ... even if it seems like a bit of hassle, in the end it might be much quicker and almost certainly less stressful!

[quote]Another tip I picked up years ago is to talk to yourself while driving. Give a commentary on every potential hazard you see, why its a hazard and what you're doing to mitigate it. Perhaps best done without passengers!
Nahhh ... my missus absolutely loves my mansplaining biggrin I do sort of do this already. I think it's part of the advanced driving test to do this too, if I'm not mistaken.

[quote]While braking, the car's nose is diving slightly and loading up the front suspension so any further input just loads it up even more and makes for a harsher ride. I try to get all my slowing down done well before the speed bump, let the car settle and then apply a tiny bit of gentle acceleration just before speed bump to lift the nose slightly.
I had not thought of this but it makes good sense so I'll try it next time I'm out in it! Thanks for the help biggrin

markyb_lcy

Original Poster:

40 posts

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
thedugmaster said:
Get some miles under your belt, because it takes 1000's to become competent at driving in my view.
Also, if you don't already have some mechanical knowledge I'd recommend you get some. Lift the bonnet and start familiarising yourself with what's going on under there. If you have some empathy with the underlying systems you'll get a better appreciation of how vehicles work, how they steer, brake, accelerate etc. If you understand all that you'll be more at one with the 'vehicle' and in turn will get the 'feel' of what's going on.
I'm not too clever on mechanics yet, but I work in systems engineering so I've got geek and curiosity credentials! I've already hard-wired a garmin 55 dashcam so I've learnt something about fusetapping and removing trim biggrin Although I know how to check the various liquids under the bonnet, I confess to not having done this yet ... so I shall do this before my next big journey. Already have a few 200+ mile trips under my belt. One thing I wasn't prepared for was how exhausted I'd feel afterwards ... I hope that's something that gets better with time when it becomes less intense.

LordGrover

30,201 posts

150 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
May be a great time to seek advanced/expert tuition with IAM, ROSPA or similar - before you build up the bad habits the rest of us have acquired.

thedugmaster

962 posts

97 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
markyb_lcy said:
thedugmaster said:
Get some miles under your belt, because it takes 1000's to become competent at driving in my view.
Also, if you don't already have some mechanical knowledge I'd recommend you get some. Lift the bonnet and start familiarising yourself with what's going on under there. If you have some empathy with the underlying systems you'll get a better appreciation of how vehicles work, how they steer, brake, accelerate etc. If you understand all that you'll be more at one with the 'vehicle' and in turn will get the 'feel' of what's going on.
I'm not too clever on mechanics yet, but I work in systems engineering so I've got geek and curiosity credentials! I've already hard-wired a garmin 55 dashcam so I've learnt something about fusetapping and removing trim biggrin Although I know how to check the various liquids under the bonnet, I confess to not having done this yet ... so I shall do this before my next big journey. Already have a few 200+ mile trips under my belt. One thing I wasn't prepared for was how exhausted I'd feel afterwards ... I hope that's something that gets better with time when it becomes less intense.
When I learnt to drive you had to know how to maintain cars yourself because they were so damn unreliable. I remember helping my dad doing engines and gearboxes on some of his cars from a very early age back in the early 70s.

Later, when I had my own car I used to think nothing of whipping an engine or gearbox out to do my own clutches and various other bits n bobs.

You'll get there though - you're obviously interested and that's 3/4 of the battle.

Remember, suck, squeeze, bang, blow!

biggrin

RobM77

31,847 posts

172 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
I'd recommend either mods moving your post to the Advanced Driving sub-forum, or you duplicate the questions over there. What you have currently is education and examination to a minimum standard; there's a whole world out there of so called 'advanced driving' which will help you become safer, more sympathetic to passengers and the car, and to have the tools to continue improving your driving all the time. The good news is that much like progressing from GCSE to A Level and beyond, things tend to get more interesting the further you go - from now on it's less about learning rules and more about learning 'why', 'when' and 'how'.

Pica-Pica

4,325 posts

22 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
thiscocks said:
markyb_lcy said:
So, regarding the speedo "inaccuracies" ... to what level is this a thing? I mean ... should it not be pretty correct to within a very low margin of error? Am I actually doing 2/3/4mph less than it says I am? The golf can display the speed digitally in the dash display but I guess this is identical to what is on the analogue dials?
Yes, generally you will be doing about 26/27mph at an indicated 30mph, so normally you are doing roughly 30 at an indicated 35. Yes the digital will be the same. When you get over 60mph the spedo tends get closer to actual speed but obviously will vary slightly with different cars. Its quite interesting measuring the difference if you have a gps sat nav that reads out the speed, then you can compare actual to indicated.
Be aware that the latest speedometers are actually quite accurate, perhaps displaying only one or two mph over the true road speed (they are not allowed to read under, of course)

TwigtheWonderkid

27,797 posts

88 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
The fact that you realise your limitations probably makes you one of the safest drivers.

Being a safe driver has nothing to do with how good a driver you are, but it's about how good you are compared to how good you think you are.

Loads of people are a 6 or 7 but think they are a 9 or 10. They are the ones who will crash. You are probably a 2 and know you're a 2. On that basis, I'd rather be a passenger with you than with them.

BornRageFree

37 posts

10 months

Monday 11th February
quotequote all
I've been going around 10 years now, started with a little vw polo and moved up. The golf is probably a good car to get to grips with - not too much grunt that you scare yourself, but enough that you can use it to get out of any sticky situations on the road. You'll learn more about this as you drive more, but always make the assumption that the person driving every car around you is a poorly trained shaven monkey - i.e. incompetent until proven otherwise. Plan for every eventuality (talking to yourself, whilst it looks weird, can work wonders as you're no doubt finding out!)
Don't just use the dashcam for mitigation in the event of an incident. If you find yourself in a situation that you feel you struggled with, save the footage and watch it later - it can help you work out what to do differently next time! As others have mentioned above, advanced driving courses are always available, I actually got on a course with a custom skid-car, to simulate sudden loss of grip on the road, dealing with under- and oversteer, and hitting ice patches. It has done me the world of good!

Good luck and happy motoring wavey

Who me ?

6,684 posts

150 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
BOBTEE said:
You've learned to pass your test, now you have to learn to actually drive!

Just keep getting the miles under your belt and it'll all click into place, before long you'll be eating snacks and fiddling with the radio, the driving will become second nature.
Keep an eye on distance from car in front , but also keep an eye on car in front of the one on front, especially on open road. And if possible on the real open road, look out for activities of several cars ahead. Brake lights are best indicator, and then it's up to you to workout what th lights on car several cars up the line mean. Could be that he/she has problems with width of road- hang back as you've got a problem driver up ahead. You might have problems following an old un like me- I seldom brake ,I just let the engine ( and anticipation of over 50 years on the road) keep me in position on a convoy.
BUT your best friend( especially with older drivers as you'd find on PH) IS the big green "P" stuck on the rear. To me that means " remember how you flt all those years ago , and how older drivers cut you slack. That badge will help those, who want to help to give courtesy . Personally, I'd love to see it as a requirement for as long as new drivers want it. Along with some legal requirement to cut "P" drivers some slack.

donkmeister

1,381 posts

38 months

Tuesday 12th February
quotequote all
OP, I also learned to drive in London (20-something years ago) but for about 15 years of that I have lived out in the sticks albeit with frequent trips back. So, I have seen the differences in driving between the two.

In general I love cruise control, especially ACC, but if you are inside the M25 the opportunities to use are limited unless you are very lucky with traffic timing, and once you're inside London it rarely offers an improvement over the old-fashioned pedal as you're constantly adjusting it. So, I'd suggest you give CC and ACC a miss apart from when you're driving out beyond the North/South Circular to reach civilisation/fresh air.

That being said, I find the speed limiter a blessing in those boroughs that have mandated a 20mph limit.

I reckon you should practice parallel parking. It's a skill that those of us who spent our formative driving years in cities seem to have developed well, but is a daunting prospect for many who didn't.

Finally, get a gold wrap for you car and make sure to sit on Brompton Road revving the nuts off your engine. This is basically obligatory in London now.

donkmeister

1,381 posts

38 months

Tuesday 12th February
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TwigtheWonderkid said:
The fact that you realise your limitations probably makes you one of the safest drivers.
+1

Back in the 90s (might still be the same) there was a statistic that demonstrated people who passed their test first time were more likely to have accidents than those who passed on the second attempt. The quality of driver was essentially the same, but the "first timers" were more cocky, whilst the second timers had already been taken down a peg before being allowed out on their own.