If you are about to learn to drive, we know it can be very daunting. Taking driving lessons and passing your theory and practical tests may feel like a long process, but it is certainly worth it in the end.
Once you can drive, the new-found freedom feels great, and you should think of it as a life achievement ticked off.
In terms of documentation, you will need a green provisional license to begin learning to drive. Your instructor will ask to see this before you do any driving – they will not be able to teach you if you have not got your provisional license. You can apply for this license up to three months before your 17th birthday, but be aware that it could take a while to arrive.
The start of your driving test journey will feature a sight test, where you will need to correctly read a car’s registration plate from 20 metres away. If you need glasses to drive, make sure you take these with you in your lessons.
Depending on your instructor, you may or may not be asked to drive in your first lesson. Some instructors prefer to take a theory-based approach, so you know the basic rules of the road and how to operate the controls.
If you do not get behind the wheel in your first lesson, it is not wasted time – the theory aspect may help you become a safer driver. Once you are driving, you will be asked to perform the same turns and manoeuvres multiple times so your instructor can teach you the best way to drive and to handle the situations you will face.
Before your first lesson, it is recommended to familiarise yourself with a car’s basic controls. Even if you do not drive the car, it is useful to know information like where the handbrake is, and how to adjust the mirrors so you can clearly see behind you. It is also a good idea to read some, or all, of the Highway Code before taking your first driving lesson – by doing this, you will have a clearer understanding of the instructions given to you.
Learning to drive takes an enormous amount of practice, so it is preferable if you can drive in-between your lessons. If a parent, guardian or another suitable adult agrees to accompany you, you can drive on UK roads with a provisional license. However, it is important to remember that the car must have ‘L’ plates displayed, and the adult overseeing you has had a full license for at least three years.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep and stay sober the night before, as it is vital to stay alert (and legal) when driving. Wear clothes that allow you to operate all the controls, and avoid shoes with heels or thick soles. Plus, remember that you are in safe hands – the driving instructor will have taught many people starting out, and they often have a back-up set of pedals on their side of the car.
Ask as many questions as you need to, and try to be confident behind the wheel.