TOP TIP: Your shoes might not be the first thing you think of when you start learning to drive, but wearing the wrong footwear while driving can not only make it harder, but it can also be dangerous. Learners should wear something with a flat but thin sole, because you want to be able to be able to feel the car respond to what you’re doing.
TOP TIP: Buying a used car to practice in between lessons can help you learn and pass your driving test quicker. But it’s important to note that, until you pass your driving test, you must be accompanied by someone over 21 who has had a full driving licence for at least three years.
TOP TIP: You can’t be 100% certain that road conditions will be dry and the sun will be shining when it comes to your test. As such, you should experience lessons in varying conditions if possible. By driving in bright, dark, wet, dry and foggy conditions you will pick up priceless experience that will pay off hugely.
TOP TIP: Learning to drive can be broken up into small pieces. You will never be able to pick it all up at once, but learning new skills every lesson will allow you to build up safe driving skills which you’ll use for the rest of your driving life.
TOP TIP: The learning doesn’t end once you’ve passed so It’s important to keep in touch with your instructor even after you’ve passed your driving test. Having lessons for post test skills like motorway driving, night time driving and driving in snow can all be crucial for a lifetime of safe driving.
TOP TIP: Knowing your signs and your highway code when on your test will greatly aid your decision making and give you the confidence required to drive in a relaxed and safe manner.
TOP TIP: Don’t beat yourself up if you fail once or even multiple times. Take any feedback on board so you won’t make the same mistake next time. Also book your next test right away. Leaving it too long between tests may result in you forgetting certain things and end up costing you more money on further lessons and tests.
TOP TIP: When you pass your test, the learning continues. You’ll face new situations all the time, such as motorways, city centre driving and tight parking. Therefore, it’s important you do not dismiss all you have learnt and that you approach each new situation with the same careful thinking and execution taught by your instructor.
TOP TIP: Some individuals feel they have to carry out manoeuvres perfectly first time or they will look a little silly. This is nonsense and this is certainly not the time to pretend you know it all. You may have to do the more difficult manoeuvres several times before you get it right. The instructor expects this and will move at your pace. If you are unsure of anything – ask. One small question can have you feeling a whole lot better in a few seconds.
TOP TIP: Try not to get exasperated or frustrated when you cannot get a manoeuvre right. This will only make learning even more difficult. The dual controls on the car will keep you safe and the instructor understands that it is often through making mistakes that you really learn.
TOP TIP: Learners often wonder what would be the best frequency of lessons. To a certain extent this depends on the individual and the amount of time available and budget. But the average is one professional lesson a week with practice in-between with friends or family.
TOP TIP: Almost everyone gets nervous about driving, especially when you are starting out. Understand that this is completely normal and your confidence will only increase with time.
TOP TIP: Make sure that your instructor has given you a brief rundown of the mechanics of the car, this knowledge will be invaluable with addressing the Show Me, Tell Me but will also help give you better all-round knowledge of what it means to drive a car.
TOP TIP: You’re likely to hear lots of new terms while you’re learning to drive, and it is important that you get to know what they all mean. The MSPSL routine, for example, is the Mirror, Signal, Position, Speed, Look, routine which all drivers should go through every time they’re on the road. Learn your routines and make sure you’re using them every time you drive.
TOP TIP: Having a driving examiner next to you can understandably make you nervous. It is easier to pretend you’re just taking someone out for a drive. You’d want to give your passenger as smooth a ride as possible, just like you do with the examiner.
TOP TIP: Every learner driver is focused on, or stressing about, their test. It pays to remember that your driving lessons are about far more than passing first time. They’re about giving you the vital skills you need to drive safely for the rest of your life. Bear this in mind rather than just focusing on your test. Ask yourself if you’d feel safe driving with a small child in the back of your learner car – that’s when you know you’re really ready.
TOP TIP: What to wear? Driving lessons can be stressful, so think about what to wear to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. Stick to clothes that aren’t restrictive, allow for easy movement, and that aren’t too hot or heavy.
TOP TIP: Nerves and anxiety have been the cause of many failed driving tests and plenty of stressful lessons too. There are lots of relaxation techniques you can use, during lessons and in-between lessons, to reduce your anxiety levels and help you perform better behind the wheel: get enough sleep, stay hydrated, practice deep breathing exercises.
TOP TIP: Studies have shown that people learn more effectively when they’re happy. Staying positive about your driving experiences can really help. Make changes to your thinking patterns so you’re focusing on the positives rather than the negatives.
TOP TIP: Be ready to make mistakes and don’t beat yourself up over them – everyone makes them. This is a learning process, and mistakes give you the opportunity to learn and improve.
TOP TIP: It pays to know the basics before your first lesson. The chances are that someone close to you owns a car, so get them to show you the key parts before your first lesson. Knowing your way around a vehicle beforehand might make it easier when your instructor comes to explain to you how to drive a car.
TOP TIP: If you decide to spread out your lessons, I suggest block booking them with at least one or two lessons per week for weeks in advance. This way you’ll remember more going into each lesson and you won’t have to worry about the availability of your instructor.
TOP TIP: No minimum number of lessons are required to pass your test and there is no fixed time frame for learning to drive. Most people spread their driving lessons out over several months, but you can also take an intensive driving course if your budget allows.
TOP TIP: We know exactly what examiners look for during a practical driving test. Therefore, our advice and methods on aspects such as mirror checks, and speed are invaluable.
TOP TIP: Driving examiners are expected to follow one of several routes that are local to your test centre. These routes are known by your driving instructor and can often be found online through websites that allow you to copy the route onto a Sat-Nav device. Practising these routes with a Sat-Nav device can be very helpful to mimic the real thing.
TOP TIP: If you make a mistake, feel overwhelmed, or simply get a blank mind during your test, do not panic. Making mistakes does not mean you aren’t a skilled driver! By taking a deep breath to compose yourself and showing your examiner that although you had an issue, you comfortably overcame it, will make the best of the situation and give you the best chance to carry on your test error-free.
TOP TIP: You are unable to take your practical driving test until you have passed the driving theory test. Getting a head start and taking the test early on will help with your practical driving skills and general road confidence.
TOP TIP: Mistakes are inevitable but you shouldn’t dwell on them. Whether it be stalling the vehicle under pressure or getting a manoeuvre wrong, it is important to remain calm in these situations and not to worry about what other drivers think.