LIFE: Learning To Drive

tips for learning to drive uk

Last week marked a year since I (finally) passed my driving test and a few weeks ago my mum & I got a gorgeous new car, so I figured that it was perfectly timed to talk about my experiences with learning to drive and being a young driver.

Despite being able to start driving lessons aged 17 I didn’t start my lessons until about 6 or 7 months after my 17th birthday. My driving instructor was a family friend which I think made a big difference for me, as I was comfortable in the car and always had fun on my lessons. I had fewer lessons than “average” and I’d say I was reasonably quick to pick up the basics, but my main issue was getting myself in to a right state of panic when I was sitting my test… so I had to sit it three times. Frustratingly, each time I failed a test it was only by a minor margin and because my nerves had led me to make silly little mistakes like stalling at a junction causing me to burst in to tears and totally throw myself off for the rest of the test. My driving instructor called it “shaky left leg syndrome” because I rarely stalled on my lessons, however as soon as the word “test” came around I was a total wreck. My only driving experience came from my lessons as it was too expensive to insure me provisionally on my parents’ cars so I didn’t have as much time to practise as I would have liked. I cried so much when I finally passed my test (and on the two I failed too!) as it was such a relief for me!

Since passing my test I’ve been lucky enough to be insured on my mum’s car, which I’m really grateful for because otherwise I probably wouldn’t be driving. Being insured on a car is an absolute bomb for a young driver like me but as I build up experience driving the quoted premiums should hopefully start to come down! I keep telling myself that anyway… Nowadays so many companies are starting to be a bit more useful for younger drivers like me, with some such as More Than offering black box services that alter your cost based on how you drive. I’m far from a boy racer – I get a bit nervous just driving over bridges – so a system like this is ideal for people like me.

Although I learned to drive with a manual transmission my mum prefers to drive an automatic, so the bulk of my driving since first learning has been done in an automatic car. I didn’t think I’d like it at first but now I’m used to it I find it so much easier! When I first started driving her car she had a Ford Fusion which then became a Ford “Fuson” after I accidentally crashed it in to a bollard in a car park. Yeah. To this day I maintain that it was the bollard’s fault for being slightly too low to see out my rear window. Luckily this is the only time I’ve really damaged a car! Touch wood it’s the only time. I cried for about a week straight afterwards..

This year we traded in the “Fuson” and upgraded to a Fiat 500L. The Fiat 500 in mint is basically my dream car, but my mum & dad weren’t so keen on it and decided to go for the larger size instead. It’s such a great car to drive and I love all the fancy features that it has, it makes me stupidly happy to have a button on my steering wheel to change the song that’s playing. It also has a mode that apparently makes parking manoeuvres easier which is ideal for someone like me who has only parallel parked once since my test. I hate parallel parking. Does anyone even like parallel parking?! Plus I now have a working cigarette lighter so I can finally use a sat-nav or charge my phone in the car. Result!

I know a fair few people have mentioned passing their driving test in their aims for the new year, so I thought this post might come in useful for anyone who’s been considering starting down the route of lessons. If that’s you, then I have a few little tips that might come in handy:

  • Sit your theory test as soon as possible, it helps to provide a knowledge base of how driving works and what laws you need to obey. There are some great apps available to help you study for the test too!
  • If you have someone who can provisionally insure you on their car (and is willing to help you practise!) then make the most of it – the more experience you have the more comfortable you’ll be.
  • Get to know the test area. I didn’t know the area where my driving test would take place awfully well at first which made me uneasy at times, but as I practised more and more and roughly knew where certain routes would take me I felt a lot more confident behind the wheel.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you didn’t hear something or are unsure of how to carry out a certain manoeuvre then ask for help! Having it explained one more time might make the world of difference to you.
  • Make sure you have an instructor you are comfortable with. It makes a real difference when you feel at ease with your instructor. Mine was always trying to make me laugh if I was stressing out which was a life saver for me.
  • Be sure to eat something! Sugar helps, trust me 😉
What was your experience learning to drive like? Can you parallel park like a boss or do you hate it like me?

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