Top tips for learner drivers
It’s 2019 and for many, learning to drive is at the top of the To-do list this year! Whether you’ve been gifted driving lessons or private practice for Christmas, or you’re simply determined to make this year the one where you get yourself behind the wheel, we’ve got some top tips to help you turn this into a reality, and we’re sure you’ll pass in no time!
For new learners
If you’re planning on getting behind the wheel for the first time this year, check out our top tips before you take the plunge, even if you’re not quite 17!
1. Get your licence
Preparing for driving lessons is actually quite boring, as you’ll need to get all of the admin work out the way first – you’ll need a provisional licence! You can apply for one through the government website from the age of 15 years and 9 months. It should take around 3 weeks to arrive, so make sure you’ve got it within plenty of time of booking your first lesson!
2. Find an instructor
Good instructors are busy people, so it’s worth doing your research and asking for recommendations from friends and family, in advance of when you want to start. After this, you’ll need to find availability that works for the both of you!
3. Swot up for the theory
No one likes tests, but whether it’s to get through school or get on the road, we’ve all got to take them at some point! You don’t have to wait until you start your driving lessons to perfect the theory test though, you can do this as soon as you’ve got your provisional. Whilst being behind the wheel will likely help you to pass, there is nothing stopping you from swotting up and acing your theory test before you’ve even hopped in a car! Remember – once you’ve passed your theory, it is only valid for 2 years. If you don’t pass your practical test within this time, you’ll have to take the theory test again.
4. Set a realistic timescale
Learning to drive is costly and time-consuming, so shouldn’t be jumped into blindly. Before starting your learning to drive journey, you need to make sure that you’ve got the time and money to do so. Look at your time commitments and the budget you will need for lessons, insurance, the theory and practical test, etc. Whether you’re setting yourself the goal of intensive lessons and practice, and passing in 3 months, or taking a more long term view of passing in a year, you can then plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to share this goal with your driving instructor, and your family, to gain their support and advice to help you achieve this.
Starting lessons now and stopping, because you’re so busy (or stressed!) can mean it will cost you more, in the long run, to pass your test and get the freedom of the road.
5. Practice makes perfect
Whatever your goals are for passing, gaining experience in your own car or a parent’s car (with supervision of course!) can be really helpful. Not only to gain confidence and practice those pesky manoeuvres but also to get the experience of real-life situations that you may not always come across in your driving lessons. This will not only help you with that magic pass but will also prepare you better for driving alone.
For advanced learners
If you’ve already got some lessons under your belt, and are determined to make this year the one you get your full licence, check out these tips which may make the journey a little smoother!
1. Get in some private practice
A new year sees determination for many people to get their full licence, and a great way to speed up this process is with private practice! This is time spent as a learner driver outside of your driving lessons, with an accompanying driver. Private practice is a great way for learners to spend more time on the road to become comfortable with everyday driving situations. Check out our private practice top tips, as hopping behind the wheel with Mum accompanying may be harder than it sounds!
2. Make checklists
A great way to prepare for your driving test is to work out which aspects of your driving needs improving, and focus on them one at a time until you perfect them all. It’s probably difficult for you to see yourself what little habits you need to kick, so make sure you ask your driving instructor what they think the areas are where you can improve. Then, set yourself a timescale on when you would like to have perfected it by.
3. Work on the test routes
Your driving instructor will likely take you on some routes that you may be tested on. These should make the real test a little easier, should you be tested on a route you’re familiar with. If you’re taking up private practice, it’s a good idea to spend time outside of your lessons following these routes, too! Don’t forget – 4 in 5 learner drivers will be tested using a Sat Nav, so it’s wise to practice using one as well.
4. Know what to expect
If you’re preparing for your test, it’s likely you will have learnt technically how to pass and not so much how the test works or how a young driver like yourself can feel in a driving test situation. It can help to calm nerves by speaking to friends and family about how their test went, or even reading stories on how other young drivers felt about the test.
5. Be patient
You may be determined to pass your test, but rushing into taking it before you're ready can be more costly than you may realise. Not only will you end up spending more money on taking another test, but you'll also have to wait longer, as driving test availability can often be very limited.
If you jump into your test before you're ready and fail - this will also have a knock-on effect of your confidence and could impact how well you perform in your next go.
Whether you’re starting this year as a fresh-faced learner driver, or you’re determined to tackle the test after a few fails – we’re wishing you all the very best of luck, and we’ll be sure to be with you every step of the way!