You learn to drive in the winter, and you’re unprepared for the heat of summer. You learn to drive in the spring and have no idea what autumnal driving is like. How are we supposed to prepare for life on the road, if we only learn to drive during one season?
We asked four young drivers, who all learnt in different seasons, what they think the pros and cons of each one are.
Summer days, drifting away
Learning to drive in summer gives a freedom within lessons that the other seasons cannot offer. Throughout the entire summer, it was perfectly clear and dry conditions to learn in. I never had to use lights or wipers. I never had to worry about splashing pedestrians or skidding in the snow- it is petrifying to think that the stopping distance is ten times greater! Not being in school for weeks, I could have my lessons when the roads were empty, even if that did mean having to get up annoying early. I was blissfully unaware of traffic and the terrifying horror of queuing.
However, there are some blindingly bright downfalls to learning in the sunny season- namely sun glare. Autumn may be notorious for its glare, but me and my instructor both spent the majority of my early lessons sat in caps. It was a very niche club. Not to mention how indebted I am to air-con, there have been some sweaty times in my driving lessons. Stuck in that small overheating car whilst I panic about parkways does not lead to a deodorant-free environment. And whilst the roads may have been empty of cars, summer means that school is out, and so there were many kids and bikes spilling over the pavements.
So whilst summer may be the most comfortable season to drive in, having started then means that I am now nearing the end of my lessons in the winter- and I am not prepared for the dark and the wet!
Autumn’s in the air
I spent the most of my learning to drive journey, getting behind the wheel during the Autumn months, from late August to early November were the months when I was learning the skills I needed to drive. After this, it was mainly perfecting these skills ready for the big test. Learning to drive during the autumn meant I was able to experience a lot of different driving conditions – from the low sun to it getting darker, earlier. I picked up a lot of skills, but not all of them!
Whilst I feel like I can perfect the bay park in the sun and in the dark, I’m petrified that it will soon be winter and I’ll have to drive in conditions I’m simply not used to. I took a break when learning to drive over the winter so I have no idea how I’ll be behind the wheel!
Oh, baby, it’s cold outside
OK, so I can’t be the only person to make the mistake of getting all wrapped up for my winter driving lesson, only to find the heating will be on full blast, and then having to sit for the next hour in sauna-like conditions and struggling to concentrate, let alone have control of the car. If it’s cold then throw your jacket in the back before you buckle up!
I learnt to drive between November and March, which meant facing up to the dreaded snow-laden winter roads and dark nights. This is a daunting prospect for experienced drivers let alone learners, but having now passed my test I’m extremely thankful to have been sitting with an instructor through winter who not only taught me best practice behind the wheel but increased my confidence in difficult conditions too.
All seasons can be tricky to drive in, but learning how to use your gears, brakes and accelerator correctly in the ice and snow really is up there in difficulty level- add in the lack of daylight and I feel this would’ve been my undoing on the roads if I had learnt at any other point in the year.
Once I’d got over the fear, being a winter learner left me mainly frustrated; with lessons cancelled due to the snow or holidays over the festive period, or even being held up in traffic jams caused by Christmas shoppers… Bah humbug!
Learning to drive during spring gave me the opportunity to experience a variety of weather conditions. From the wet and windy spring-time showers to the baking heat of the beginnings of summertime. Learning during this time of the year allowed me to gain confidence in both scarily slippy and sizzling conditions. I soon learnt how and when to activate windscreen wipers and the car's air condition whilst driving, which can be quite a tricky skill to master when you're concentrating so hard on the road ahead.
Although I was more than happy to skip the wintry snow during my driving lessons, it does mean that I am DREADING the wrath of the winter wonderland. Springtime meant I never had to deal with icy windscreens or frosty wing-mirrors, however, I did have to get through torrential rainfalls and the embarrassment of leaving sweat patches behind on the front seat. Having done an intensive driving course, spending multiple hours in the endless rain makes you feel constantly on edge, but driving for ages in a hot car will leave you feeling like a dissolved puddle of heat exhaustion.
It goes to show that each season has its pros and cons! If you want to experience as many different driving conditions as you can, pick up our Learner Driver Insurance. This is flexible cover to help you - whether it's a summer drive or a winter challenge you're looking for.