Hello, my name is Isabel. I’m currently at the later end of 17 and learning to drive, hoping to pass by the end of the year. As you can imagine, the pandemic has made my driving journey a very bumpy ride (pun intended). As well as the constant lifting and placing of restrictions, my instructor had to take time off due to a car accident. Thankfully she is ok, but it has meant my lessons have been, understandably, not as frequent as I may have liked. This blog will be about my journey learning to drive through this mess of a year.
On your marks, get set...
When I began my lessons I expected disruptions in the sense of wearing masks and the possibility of tightened restrictions for short periods of time. What I didn’t expect, however, was that after just two lessons I would not only have to stop lessons, but I would have to stop private practice too on all non-essential journeys. I kept my learner insurance in place as occasionally I had to take the opportunity of being the one to drive my mum to the supermarket, just so I could get behind the wheel.
It was more confidence building than actually learning anything new, but I was very lucky that my instructor had said I could begin private practice safely.
Coming out of lockdown I began to have weekly lessons again and this felt like it may be a long term thing - I was raring to go after being 17 for so long without advancing very far in my driving. But yet again, disaster struck and my lessons were getting cancelled again, this time because my instructor was in a small car accident, which meant she was not being able to teach me for a few weeks. Between this and everyone self-isolating around me, it felt no different to being back in lockdown. This really did knock my confidence, but my mum managed to convince me to go out as often as possible - we wanted to go out every couple of days but didn’t exactly stick quite to that. Finally lessons have started again and there is hope that they will continue like this and my private practice has definitely paid off - my instructor commented on a real difference in my confidence and clutch control - so it was definitely worth it.
In terms of the rest of my learning-to-drive journey, I will continue to have lessons as well as fitting private practice into my week wherever I can. As I would like to pass my test as soon as possible, I have upped my lessons to two hours a week with my instructor alongside relying more on private practice. This is helpful to me because most of what I need to work on is doing everything independently because I obviously can’t rely on my driving instructor or mum in the test and in the future. When my test arrives – I will probably take it in my driving instructors’ car. I’d considered taking the driving test in my own car, but I am more used to the car I do my lessons in so think that’s the best option for me.
As someone who has gone through all this, I have a few tips for anyone who has had a disrupted driving journey and is thinking about stopping.
- You are in control
If there are things getting in the way of your learning to drive journey, remember that you can find your way around them. Lessons stopped? Pick up private practice. Confidence down? Hit the textbooks and refresh on The Highway Code. You are in control so put the work in and get the reward at the end.
- Private practice is your best friend
Let’s face it, you aren’t going to pass as quickly as you want if you only rely on when your instructor is teaching you. Picking up learner driver insurance and using time outside of your lessons to build up your confidence is key.
- You’re allowed to make mistakes
One of the best things I’ve done is to learn to try again rather than get caught up on the things I was doing wrong, you’re still learning and all you can do is practice so don’t focus on the mistakes, learn from them and move on.
- Don’t give up
If you give up because of the complications from the pandemic, it will only end up with you having to practice the same thing again when you come to learn to drive in the future. It’s hard right now, but rather than quitting - push through, get to the end of it and pass your test!
I hope hearing what has happened to me, how I handled it, and my tips has helped. Good luck to everyone who is learning to drive with all these complications!