Man driving car and looking out the window

Some people pass their driving test as a keen 17-year-old but then, as the years pass, find themselves driving less and less. Maybe you live in the centre of a big city where owning a car is not practical. Or perhaps you got married and designated all the driving responsibilities to your spouse.

Whatever the reason, situations change and one day you may find yourself needing to drive again – perhaps you have moved to a more remote area or find yourself living alone. For those who haven't driven for a long time, getting back behind the wheel can be a daunting prospect.

Legally, unless you have become disabled in any way (in which case you need to contact the DVLA) if you still hold a driving licence you are free to hop in and drive off. However, in reality it may not be as simple as that.

Getting back behind the wheel

For a start, if you haven't driven for 10 or 15 years, your driving skills will be rusty. Also, the roads will have changed in that time. Not only will they be much busier, but the rules of the road are constantly changing.

The good news is that despite an ever-increasing amount of traffic, Britain's roads are actually safer than ever. According to the Department for Transport, the number of deaths on UK roads fell to an all-time low in 2007.

Take a refresher course

The best thing to do to get motoring again is to book yourself on to a refresher driving course. These courses are widely available from most driving schools. Unlike learning to drive the first time, there is no test to pass at the end, so it is much less stressful. The courses are designed to help you feel comfortable driving a modern car on today's busy roads. They will teach you how to drive safely, which will give you more confidence.

Also, with today's concerns about the environment and the high price of fuel, a refresher course will usually teach you to drive more efficiently. This will save you money and help you to minimise your impact on the environment.

Once you have done your course, you should start with a few short drives near to your home to build up your confidence. Avoid driving on busy roads and during the rush hour until you feel ready.

Be a greener motorist

If you are buying a new car, you may not want to get one with a huge engine. A smaller car will be easier to manoeuvre, and will also use less fuel. Try to buy a green model if you can, the Department for Transport's website is a good place to start as it lists the greenest cars available in each class, from small models to large 4x4s.

And, just to be sure, sign up with a reliable car insurance company such as Direct Line. Knowing you and your car are in good hands will give you peace of mind just in case your return to driving ends in a little bump.