Learning to drive is something most of us have to go through these days, if we want to maximise our job prospects and provide adequate taxi support for our future or current children! It's just getting harder and harder to avoid, with constant cuts to public transport and companies increasingly finding ways to outsource and amalgamate their businesses further away. Like any learning process, it's important to find the learning style that suits you. Some people learn best from practical application, where as others gain more confidence from reading and memorising. There is no right or wrong answer. Jade has recently started having lessons and these are some of the tips we came up with to try and help a bit.*In association with UK Credit
The most important aspect of learning to drive, which I learned the hard way, is choose your driving instructor carefully. Hopefully, you will get on swimmingly with your first instructor and never have an issue, but be prepared for this not to be the case. Learning to drive is a very personal thing, and you will need to form a kind of relationship with your instructor, as you will be spending a lot of one-to-one time together in a potentially stressful, nerve-wracking environment, so it's vital that you have an instructor who you can get along with and who understands your particular style. Book one or two trial lessons, before you commit to anything, either financially or personally, and be prepared to walk away if you don't feel relaxed or comfortable with them. It's expensive and time consuming, you have a right to source the best teacher for your needs.
One thing that I really struggled with in the beginning was remembering where the gears were. Obviously, you can't look down at the gear stick, and with everything else you need to do to drive a car, it helps if you can memorise this aspect early on. One way, is to sit in a parked car and keep practising changing gear without actually moving. Or, you can do what I did and cut the gear pattern out of a cardboard box and use a wooden spoon as the gear stick, just keep tracing those gears in front of the TV until it stays in your head!
Practice Until you Feel in Control
Everyone learns at a different pace and that's ok. I once had a driving instructor who had many flaws, one of which was pushing me on before I was ready. It's a car. A large, metal, moving object that can cause injury, so you have to feel in control of it to learn properly. When someone is expecting you to reverse park, when you've only had three lessons, it's not going to end well, so don't be afraid to say what you need from the lesson. If you still feel you want to properly master the clutch until the sequence makes sense to you and you feel like you've nailed it, remember it's your lesson and you're the one paying.
Initially, learning to drive can seem a little overwhelming. There is a lot to learn and it's easy to feel under pressure, as it is costly too, so you will probably want to learn as quickly as possible. Keep in mind though, that everyone goes through exactly the same process; the highs, the lows, the mistakes and the nerves! I found the best way to relax was to enjoy the process of learning something new and view each lesson independently, instead of focussing on the process as a whole, or, worse still, the test! These things take time. Exactly like learning a GCSE, or any other exam, you start off knowing nothing about it, but eventually it all comes together and you pass with flying colours, so be patient.
Don't Worry about How Long it Takes
When you look around, it may seem that driving is something nearly everyone can do, so it must be easy, right? Wrong! It doesn't matter if your next door neighbour's cousin's son passed in four lessons, most people will find aspects of learning to drive difficult. Not all aspects, but some. At whichever point you hit the learning wall, remember that you won't be the first, the instructor will have seen it all before and eventually it will just click. It might not seem like it at the time, but if you ask anyone who learned to drive, they could probably name one thing they really struggled to get the hang of.
Consider your Footwear
Choose your footwear carefully when you begin learning and try to stick to the same pair for each lesson too. Different textures and heel height, etc, can have some effect on your pedal control, which won't be a problem once you've had enough practice, but when you are learning it can make a difference. A flat shoe with a thin sole is ideal, as you will be able to feel the car responding. Ask your driving instructor, if you are unsure, as some footwear can even be dangerous to drive in, so it's a good idea to get it right.
Once you pass, then you start learning...
This is an expression that I've heard a few times and I think it's really true and not a lot of people realise it. You can learn to pass your test, but the real driving experience begins when you are on the open road unsupervised, encountering all kinds of new situations. Many people start driving small, local roads first,once they pass, until they have gained confidence and it's fine to take your time with this. The important thing to remember, though, is that driving tests are not easy, so if you've managed that bit, you are perfectly safe and good enough to drive. So, however you finance your car, enjoy your new found freedom and be proud of yourself!