Good day everyone, I hope you’re good! So today I thought I would write up a post about my experiences as a new Learner Driver as it may potentially help some readers with what to expect when you start driving!
I was pretty terrified of driving and had no idea of where to start, so I chose a local driving school (which was difficult in itself) that had pretty good scoring and decided that I should just pick someone because they will all be qualified to teach me; so I sent them an email:
“Hello, I am looking to start driving in February and have never driven in my life. I’d consider myself quite nervous but really want to get on and learn how to drive. I currently work Mon-Fri 9am-5pm so would need a schedule fitted around that. Happy to do multiple lessons in a week as free most evenings. Is this something you are able to provide?
If possible a female driver or someone with a good sense of humour who is patient haha but I am keen to start in February.”
This was their response:
“I won’t be able to supply you with a female instructor but I can give you someone with a unique sense of humour. He will contact you either this evening or in the course of tomorrow to book in lessons.”
My first thought was a bit like okay, what’s unique?…but I shrugged it off as I really didn’t know what to expect and I needed to start somewhere. In my first lesson I didn’t even drive the car, my instructor attempted to get me to find the ‘biting point’ but I found it really hard so he just used the clutch to move the car forward (coasting) whilst I practiced with the steering. In my second lesson I learned more about the biting point and actually got the car on the road, I was pretty pleased with myself actually and thought this might not be too bad.
On the 6th March I took 3 days off of work so that I could do block lessons with my instructor, 3-4 hours every day as I had booked 10 hours. Here are some of the things that you will experience/learn as a new Learner in your first few lessons:
- Whether or not you get on with your instructor and whether their teaching methods work for you.
- Cockpit checks such as correct seating, mirror check, handbrake check, seatbelt etc. and locating where everything is.
- Driving and keeping to the speed limit.
- Parking to the side of the road.
- Using your mirrors correctly.
- Indicating, approaching and emerging from junctions.
- Small roundabouts.
Most instructors will take you somewhere quiet for you to drive around in, somewhere where there are junctions, roundabouts and little traffic. We started off in a trading estate before moving to a quiet residential road where I practiced mostly junctions, manouvering around parked cars and pulling up to the side of the road.
It did get easier the more I was in the car, especially when I did the block lessons; I actually felt that having block lessons at the beginning really helped to boost my courage for the lessons to come, helping me to get over the initial fears I had. It can be hard to remember everything in a single hour lesson, you spend half of the lessons regaining your confidence and remembering what to do so you don’t get much time to learn new things so it might be a good idea to get some longer lessons in at the beginning.
In my early lessons I also discovered:
- The instructor will grab the wheel quite a few times because your spatial awareness hasn’t developed yet.
- The instructor will use their break pedal quite a few times to prevent you from running wild in traffic =_=.
- You’ll stall the car MANY times and you shouldn’t let this stress you out – don’t worry even drivers with years of experience still stall their cars!
- Your right foot will probably hurt at the end of each lesson because you’re flexing that baby quite a bit!
- Even if you’re a cold person like me, you’ll get hot in the car quickly.
- You WILL struggle with putting the gear stick into the right gear, like you’ll think you’re putting it in third gear but you’re actually putting it in first and suddenly the car starts bucking…
- You will have to learn to put the gears in without looking and as I mentioned above, this is tricky at first!
- You will think you’re going slower than you actually are and your instructor will tell you that you need to start braking at a point that seems WAY too early like, you’re going so slow you’ll never reach the junction/roundabout. It’s a bit frustrating BUT this is to give you time to lower your speed, check your mirrors, change your gear down and assess what’s happening in front of you and whether you need to stop – I SUCK AT THIS AND IT’S CURRENTLY MY BIGGEST ISSUE but the more you practice this the less time you’ll need to do everything, this is why those who have been driving for years can pull up really quick but still do everything they need to do in seconds without thinking about it but new drivers have to think about what they are doing and therefore need more time before the junction/roundabout.
- You will put your foot down on the accelerator and go really fast without meaning to.
- You will stress out over having to do so much at once, be extremely thankful if you have good multi-tasking skills.
- If you are driving for more than 2 hours you will get pretty tired because you’re not used to the amount of concentration you have to keep, especially if the car gets warm – be careful as this will allow mistakes to start occurring.
- If you have multiple lessons across a few days you will have days that aren’t as good and will make you feel like you’ve taken 3 steps back. Perservere because this is normal and you will get better!
- You’ll probably start looking at the road directly in front of you but you need to look at the road far ahead so you can assess what’s going on and whether any hazards are developing – you’re not looking for dog poop on the road, so look up!
- You are quite likely to accidentally grab your driving instructors leg without meaning too when trying to find the gear stick without looking…
I think that’s about it tbh and yes it is overwhelming but once you get the hang of it you will be proud of how far you have come. I can drive around mostly well now except for my approach to junctions and roundabouts are still too fast. I’m still practicing manouvers and reversing still terrifies me but I’ll get there in the end and I’ll be driving by the end of the year, I’m determined!
Also here’s a story about my first driving instructor…
My first instructor was an old guy who was a bit weird (or ‘unique’) but I decided not to pay too much attention, I did my first lessons and my block lessons with this guy and he just got weirder over time…Or letchy shall I say. He seemed friendly enough initially but then he seemed to get over-friendly, that kind of friendly where the person doesn’t know how far is too much and when they’ve crossed the boundaries. I believe it was innocent enough but it was enough to put me off being in a car with him again. Here’s some of the things (not word for word) that got said during my lessons:
- “I need a woman to organise my life.”
- “You’re doing so well I could marry you.”
- “Trust me, I’d never let anything happen to you.”
- “Being in a long distance relationship must be great, you can see other people whilst he’s away. Oh do you not do that?”
- (Upon my awful of habit of saying “f*** me” when I do something wrong) “Please don’t ask me to f*** you again as that would be very wrong.”
- Called me darling, duck and even babe once.
Yeah…By the last block lesson I had a headache so I went home early with 1 hour owed. It freaked me out quite a bit that I went with my brother’s advice and contacted his old instructor at 3am the Sunday morning for help because I couldn’t stop thinking about how uncomfortable it made me and how I didn’t want to experience it again. Thankfully he responded quickly and said he’d be happy to take me on, better yet is he’s from the same town as me and could possibly do longer evening lessons as well as being cheaper at £22.00 an hour rather than £25.00 an hour. I cancelled my next lesson with the first instructor and told him that I had found someone more local to do lessons with and that as a thank you (more like I really didn’t want to get back in the car with him again) he could keep the owed hour that I had already paid for.
Feeling comfortable with your driving instructor is super important because you’re going to be alone with this person who initially is a complete stranger to you for long periods of time (which is dangerous enough as it is if you think about it because even though they are qualified, a lot of them are self-employed). You’ve got to feel like you can trust them and that you understand their way of teaching. I have grown considerably since being with my new instructor and I fully trust him as he’s happy to chat as a friend and turn into an instructor when he needs to. He’s always aware of what is happening when we’re driving or ready to give an instruction or a reminder to me, and he does it in a calm, relaxed manner that it doesn’t stress me out! Each lesson I feel more and more comfortable with driving and he’s great at observing me whilst I’m driving, so he’s able to tell me all the little things that I’m doing incorrectly to help make my driving easier.
So that’s it for this post, I hope this helped you if you are a new driver, or looking to start learning, with what to expect or relate to! Has any of these happened to you? If you’re a new driver and would like to chat with someone in the same situation then please do comment below, I’d love to hear from someone else who knows exactly how I feel! Thank you for reading, until next time~♥