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In the driver's seat for the very first time!

Kitty Haslam profile

Kitty Haslam

September 14, 2017

Learning to drive Young driver stories 2 min read

So, I can now say that I have officially had my first ever driving lesson, at the age of 16! I know that this isn’t really possible but through research I found am organisation that provides teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 with the opportunity to learn to drive a car in an off-road environment (in an empty Park and Ride car park).  The Essex County Council and Driving Instructors Club Essex are working together in order to be able to bring together a team of qualified driving instructors that are licensed by the DSA as well as dual controlled cars.

I booked one of the hour sessions, the first 15 minutes of which include a discussion about a certain driving topic in a mobile classroom. Pupils are then taken by their allocated instructor to learn to drive cars – for 45 minutes – around the Chelmer Valley Park & Ride car park. The Park and Ride is closed to the public on Sundays and it’s because this scheme is based in a car park/off-road environment that I can have these lessons whilst under 17 and without a provisional license.

When I arrived, I was handed a collection of useful booklets and guides, including a parental guide for helping your children to learn to drive and a guide on how to stay safe on the roads. I was also given a progress record so that as I continue with lessons my instructor can check off certain points that I need to learn as and when I’m taught and learn them.

It was much easier than I thought

Leading up to my first lesson I was definitely nervous whilst waiting and watching the session before mine. But as soon as I we started the discussion – which for me was focussed on possible distractions as a teenage driver – I soon calmed down. As I was a complete beginner, for the first 10 minutes in the car, I was introduced to the general controls and layout of the car.

During the lesson, I was taught how to carry out a cockpit drill when starting up the car as well as how to use car controls. After we got moving I learnt how to move off with observations, steer an accurate course and stop normally. As I gained confidence driving around the car park I was able to change gears, give signals correctly and use my mirrors effectively – all of which I was worried about as I’m definitely an awful multitasker. Surprisingly I actually managed to pick it up as the lesson progressed, even though I was quite flustered at the beginning.

I’m really glad that I found out about the possibility of starting to have lessons, before I turn 17, as looking back now I would have definitely hated to have my first few lessons on actual roads. The stress of being surrounded by other drivers would have made me even more nervous. Hopefully, after a few of these lessons I will have gained some more of the basic skills and manoeuvres as well as developing some confidence to start actual driving lessons. Then I will be ready for the roads!

Kitty Haslam profile

By Kitty Haslam

'I've only recently passed my driving test so I'm currently getting to grips with being on the roads by myself. So far I'm really enjoying the newfound freedom that driving gives me. Plus, being the designated driver for my friends is actually quite fun, who would have thought it?'  See more posts by Kitty

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