You know the drill – as a learner you’re likely to learn all your driving skills with an instructor, and then perfect these if you take up private practice outside of your lessons. This is a great way to work on your driving skills, as well as building confidence to get you through your test. But what about after you’ve passed your test? Many young drivers want to jump in their car as a full licence holder and take to the road – but the places they want to go, they haven’t practised!
So we thought we’d pull together 8 places you can go as a learner driver during private practice, which should help give you confidence after you’ve passed!
As any self-respecting new driver does, one of the first things I did when I got my car was head to my local McDonald’s Drive-Thru! Exciting about being behind the wheel (and obviously for the nuggets that were coming my way), I didn’t realise how tricky they are to actually navigate your way through! Tight corners, slow-moving cars, getting close enough to the window to actually pay and pick up your food – it’s a difficult thing to master. Making these trips as a learner during private practice means you’ll be a pro by the time you get your full licence.
Whether you like them or loathe them – you’ll more than likely end up using a multi-storey car park at some point as a new driver. You’re probably used to hill starts and driving down slopes, but it’s a completely different ball game when you’re in a confined space surrounded by other cars! Even if you don’t need to go shopping, it’s worth heading to a multi-storey car park to practice your driving and parking. A little tip: when driving in a multi-storey, stick in first gear and avoid using the clutch. This will give you complete control over your speed when driving up and down the ramps.
One of the things we rarely think about (let alone practice) is filling up a car with fuel – and if you’ve never done it before, it can be pretty tricky. Knowing which side your petrol cap is, parking the correct distance from the pump, and using those complicated ‘Pay at the Pump’ options can be a minefield if you’re not used to it! It’s worth heading out when it’s quiet and practising filling up fuel with your accompanying driver. That way, when it comes to filling up on your own, you’ll be fine!
It’s worth remembering that each car is different, so figure out how to open the fuel cap of the car you’re driving before heading off. Top tip: the image of the fuel pump on the dashboard often has an arrow next to it – this shows you what side of the car you fill up from!
Out of 500 learner drivers that we surveyed, 58%* of them said they wished nighttime driving to be incorporated into driving lessons – and it makes sense. Driving at night is much more challenging than you may first realise. There’s limited visibility overall, and pairing this with bright street lights and other car lights which can be quite dazzling, especially if you haven’t done it before.
If you pass during the summer, one of the first trips you may want to take is heading to the seaside with your friends – right? Seaside drives can actually be pretty difficult! If it’s a nice day, you can almost guarantee everyone else plans on hitting the beach too, which means a lot of traffic! If you’re dealing with this as a new driver, as well as heading to a likely overcrowded car park – it’s going to be pretty stressful!
Think about heading to the seaside on a practice run before passing your test. You can figure out the route, and maybe even find a hidden gem car park that won’t be as busy when the sun comes out.
You may have practised driving around your local city centre on your driving lessons, but going further afield and driving to different town or city can be daunting, especially if it’s new territory. You’ll have to deal with different road layouts, roundabouts and probably the same parking situation as if you were going to the beach. Maybe take some time during your private practice to visit a nearby town or city you’re unfamiliar with – this will help build your confidence for when you tackle it alone.
Whether you’re a sports fan or music lover, you may be super-eager to head to a concert or festival with your new found freedom! The biggest challenges when driving to and from an event are getting in, parking and getting out. It may sound simple, but when thousands of people want to do it at the same time, it can definitely raise your stress levels – especially if you’re driving back from a gig late at night and you’re tired! If you’ve got an event coming up as a learner, consider offering to drive to or from the venue. You’ll get a taste for what it’s like, without being thrown completely in the deep end.
Narrow and winding roads, paired with other cars and pedestrians can make driving through a small village pretty challenging. You will often find yourself faced with blind corners and tight bends which can make any new driver nervous. So to build up your confidence put on your L plates and get practising – dealing with as many different driving scenarios as a learner, when you have an experienced driver with you, will help to build up your skill and confidence for when you hit the roads on your own!
And there you have it – 8 different places we think you should try to drive to whilst you’ve still got the L plates on. Make the most of your time as a learner, and try to gain as much experience as you can! If you can think of any other drives learners should take, let us know!
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*The online survey of 500 UK learner drivers aged 17-25 was commissioned by Marmalade and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected between 13/04/2018 and 27/04/2018