With confidence and competence behind the wheel comes incredible freedom and independence. For some, the road to attaining a driver’s licence is exciting and fairly straightforward; for others, it is nerve-wracking and more challenging.
The following fourteen tips will help any learner, whether confident or nervous, to not only pass their test but to become lifelong safe and skilful drivers.
- Enlist the help of a professional driving instructor While it may be tempting to cut some of the cost out of learning to drive by using relatives or friends to teach you to drive, it is wise and potentially more cost-effective in the long run to use a professional instructor who can use their expertise to guide you through the process of learning to drive systematically and correctly.
- Listen carefully to everything that your instructor says The most important consideration when you’re behind the wheel is your safety and the safety of other road users. You MUST listen extremely carefully to your instructor and respond immediately to what he or she is saying – if you’re being asked to accelerate quickly then it might be to move you quickly out of a dangerous situation.
- Breathe deeply and consistently Anxiety surrounding driving is extremely common. If you feel tense and panicky, then you risk freezing up and failing to respond sensibly to situations that might arise. It may help to focus on your breathing, keeping it deep and steady. If you feel out of control at any point, then let your instructor know and he or she will help you to pull over safely.
- Practice, practice, practice Driving is a skill like any other: practice makes perfect. The ultimate goal is for the routines that you are learning to become automatic, otherwise known as muscle memory. The more you practice your skills, the less you will have to think about each individual action.
- Utilise online information There is a wealth of information about learning to drive online. Watching YouTube tutorials given by professional driving instructors could be a great way to reinforce what you learn in your lessons.
- Ask questions“How quickly should I press the accelerator when pulling off?”“What if I’m not sure whether or not it’s safe to go?”“When exactly should I put the handbrake on?”Asking your instructor questions about aspects of driving that you are unsure about, will enable you to increase your confidence and clear up any queries that you might have.
- Find ways to remember key routines Most people have heard of MSM (Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre) because it’s so straightforward and easy to remember. Find similar ways of remembering key routines until they become second nature.
- Become your own driving instructor This might feel strange at first, but try speaking aloud to yourself as you’re driving, channeling the voice of your driving instructor. For instance, if he or she always reminds you to check your blind spot before you pull away then try saying this out loud to yourself.
- Think beyond the driving test Try to view learning to drive as a continuous process rather than thinking that you’ve finished once you have passed your test. There may be some things that you do not encounter in your lessons, such as emergency vehicles, so you need to be prepared to keep learning regardless of your experience.
- Be patient and persevere Very few people learn to drive in a matter of a few hours. For most people, it will take dozens of hours of practice. Think of these hours as an investment – you will be safer and more confident because of them.
- Learn from your mistakes If you have a nightmare lesson or you encounter something really difficult, then see this as a learning opportunity. Perhaps you went through a red light – well, in the future you’ll probably scan further ahead and make more effort to brake in good time.
- Practice outside of lessons When you feel that you have reached an adequate level of skill to be safe, ask a relative or friend to take you out for some extra hours of driving practice so that you can strengthen what you have learnt in lessons.
- Try to enjoy your lessons No matter how nervous you are, do your best to enjoy the experience of learning a new skill under the supervision of a professional. Allow yourself to have fun when you first experience the thrill of driving at 70 mph and smile broadly when you successfully master those manoeuvres.
- Maintain a positive attitude It is crucial that you believe that learning to drive is something that you can achieve. If you believe in yourself and keep reminding yourself of your progress then you will stand the best chance of succeeding in your goal.