Observing a new driver from the sidelines

Observing a new driver from the sidelines

Posted by Owen Nutkins on 15 November 2017

So you’re probably wondering - what does this have to do with driving or how is this going to help me to improve my driving skills?

Well strangely this could help! Recently, my girlfriend passed her driving test and with no discouragement it took her 4 attempts until she got it right. I didn’t know she had passed until around a week later, a few days before I was going to see her.

Her success was great for many reasons:

  • She could get out more to improve her driving
  • We could get out and do things more easily
  • It gave me the chance to observe from the sidelines and see what she does differently to me
  • And generally, it gave me the chance to trust a brand new driver!

Trusting a new driver

Trust is the first key aspect, without it we wouldn’t have been going anywhere – she needed to trust me to be a rational passenger and I needed to trust her to drive safely!

Before I got into the car with her, I was pumped, so happy, and not worried about being her passenger. Once I was in, I did get a bit nervous, but all I could do was encourage her to keep going; and it worked.


By skills I mean, general driving ability – where my girlfriend lives is a mixture between horrible country roads, small compacted towns, and even big cities. Some of the roads we had to face were horrible and the first thing I noticed was the car itself - her car is very different to mine, so some of the ways she did things were different simply because of how her car is designed.

But overall her skill level was great and after each drive I’d rate her up to 10. At first she got 6/7 ish marks, but each day that got higher and higher, which taught me a lesson: Just because you get something wrong and it knocks a mark off, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad driver, it just means there's space to improve!


From stalling to missing chances at roundabouts – a lot happened to create those lower marks in my experience as the passenger, but what I noticed is that every time something went wrong she’d worry and rush things, and each time it failed again! Cars beeped now and then, but until she thought about it and took her time, it kept on going wrong. So once again the lesson for me, is not to worry if something goes wrong, and not to rush.

How does this help me?

I'm taking on board everything that I observed, into my own driving. This should help to improve my skills and to be more confident behind the wheel. Hopefully, this will encourage others to do the same.

Observe from the sidelines and you may just learn something new.

About the Author

Owen Nutkins
Owen Nutkins

Hi I'm Owen! I'm an 18 year old filmmaker & photographer from the UK. I've recently started taking driving lessons and I feel it would be great to write about my personal experiences, and be able to share advice to others whilst I prepare myself for my driving test.