Many people all over the world are trying to live with a new kind of normal. We’re avoiding going out as much as possible, and many of our schools and workplaces have been closed. It’s not all bad. You might be enjoying more time with your family, and if staying at home keeps us healthy and helps to protect the more vulnerable members of society, it’s certainly worth it.
But, this new normal might mean that you’ve got very little call to drive. You might have gone from a long commute, or driving the kids to school every morning, to barely using your car at all. If you’ve been able to get home deliveries, or you live within walking distance of a local shop, you may not have driven for weeks. If you are able to work from home for an extended period, you might find that by the time you get behind the wheel next, it has been months since your last drive.
This can be scary, especially if you were a relatively new driver or not a particularly comfortable one. The good news is, driving is a lot like riding a bike, and the chances are that by the time you’ve reached the end of your street, you’ll feel like you’ve never been away. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful or take precautions. Here are some tips to help you drive for the first time after a lengthy break.
Look After Your Car
You might not be driving your car much, if at all, right now, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t sustain damage. If it’s particularly dirty, it might lead to rust or a blocked engine, and if you’ve had a tiny chip in your windscreen, it might be slowly spreading and becoming a much larger crack.
This is the perfect time to take care of your car. You might have plenty of time to give it a thorough clean, inside and out, and you can still use a professional windshield replacement shop if you need to. Look after your car now, and driving will be much easier when you need to.
Check the Battery
If you’ve been driving very short distances, perhaps to the local shop, your battery might suffer. Generally, you are better off not driving at all, than repeatedly turning your engine on for very short periods. Stick to health guidelines and only leave your house if necessary, and use a battery conditioner or trickle charger to make sure it’s fully charged when you need it.
Test and Top Up Tyre Pressure
Your tyres lose pressure over time, whether your car is moving or stationary. If you’ve got a pressure gauge at home, check your tyres before your next journey. If not, make finding one a priority on your first long journey.
Adjust Your Seat and Mirrors
Our bodies and posture naturally change all of the time. If you’ve spent your time in lockdown practicing daily yoga, you might sit a cm or two higher in your seat. If you’ve gained weight or spent your time off lounging on the sofa, you might sit lower in your cabin. Before driving for the first time, spend a little time adjusting your seat and mirrors, to give yourself the most extensive view of the road in front of and around you.
Familiarise Yourself with the Controls
As soon as you start to drive, no doubt muscle memory will kick in, and you’ll know where everything is without thinking. But, what if something happens before you’ve settled? Take a few minutes before you put your key in the ignition to familiarise yourself with controls and buttons in the cabin, and getting comfortable in your seat.
Take a Familiar Route
Your first drive after a break might not be the best time to try new routes. Take a drive somewhere familiar and give yourself a chance to settle before driving anywhere new.
Take it Slowly
Give yourself plenty of time for those early journeys, even though roads may still be quieter than usual. Drive slowly, giving yourself a little extra time to make decisions on the road, leave plenty of space between other vehicles, and give yourself lots of time to corner and maneuver.
Check Your Insurance and Breakdown Cover
Check on your insurance policy and breakdown cover before you drive, to make sure that they are still valid, and that you don’t need to make any changes. If your car hasn’t been used for a while, you might not have had any of the early warning signs that something is wrong, and breakdown cover might be more important than ever.