Getting the Most From Your Driving Lessons

Getting the Most from Your Driving Lessons

Learning to drive is one of the biggest milestones in life and one which makes a huge difference to what is available to you. The freedom to drive to school/college/work at the times you want to travel, the freedom to see friends when you want without relying on public transport or lifts from family/friends will all be part of your new world. It also opens your search area when seeking employment.

Realising this important skill may seem expensive. However, when you consider that passing your test will give you a qualification that will last more or less a life time, the cost is minimal compared to other motoring costs.

The costs of learning to drive can be significantly reduced if taken seriously. The following hints and tips below might help to achieve a good level of driving at minimal cost.

1.  Choose Wisely

You are potentially going to spend around 40 hours in a car with your Instructor. It is important that you do a little research to ensure that you find the right one for you. Word of mouth from family or friends is a good recommendation, especially if you have a friend with similar characteristics as you who has already passed or is currently learning. You could also look for a driving school or instructor with real reviews on their website. Again these reviews are a good sign of recommendation.

Also remember that once you start learning, if you’re not happy with your Instructor, then let them know. It doesn’t have to be conflict, but you are a paying customer. If you are still not happy then don’t hesitate to choose a different Instructor. If the driving school has other instructors, then ask them for a change.

2.  Be Ready to Learn

Like any other skill or subject, learning to drive requires you to be alert and ready to learn. Make sure you get a good night sleep the night before and stay away from alcohol (for obvious reasons). Maybe give yourself 10 minutes before a lesson to consider what you’d like to improve. Think about anything you find more difficult than anything else and let your instructor know. Make sure that you know where your provisional licence is too as your instructor will want to see it at the start of your first lesson.

You will be more open to learning if you are comfortable so choose your clothes and shoes wisely. Your shoes shouldn’t have thick soles or excessively raised heels.

Provisional Licence

3.  Be Honest

You have nothing to prove to your instructor; he/she is not there to judge you. Please don’t pretend to be the child of Lewis Hamilton if you have no practical experience. Your Instructor will try to find out what you already know (so that you don’t waste time) and then take you to the next stage of car control. There will be many times when your Instructor will ask for your thoughts about a particular situation or skill. It is important that you give your true thoughts and feelings and not just what you think your Instructor wants to hear. You can’t be wrong as they are YOUR thoughts.

4.  Theory Training

Take responsibility to learn the theory of driving and rules of the road. By doing so, you will understand more about the various traffic situations and signs and marks. This will make you feel more confident and accelerate your practical learning. There are 2 great books which will help you on your way:

The Highway Code: This is a set of information, advice, guides and mandatory rules for all road users.

Driving, The Essential Skills: This comprehensive guide provides all motorists with everything they need to know to help them learn and maintain safe driving skills and stay safe on the road for life.

If you are more of a ‘digital learner’ then Theory Test Pro is a great asset; your Instructor should enrol you onto this learning resource. At YES! Driving School we provide full access to it at no extra cost.

5.  Take Ownership

The Instructor is full of knowledge, skill and understanding. There are also many steps which you can take to gain the same. Firstly, if you know what your best learning style then tell your Instructor. If you don’t know what your preferred learning style is, your Instructor will aim to find it. If information is being presented to you in a manner which isn’t working then, once again, let your Instructor know; the method of presenting that information can then be changed. Once an objective for the lesson has been agreed with your Instructor, ensure that you have the knowledge required to be successful and then try your hardest to apply the lessons to be learned. That is all you can ask of yourself. At the end of each session, you should be able to say to yourself that you tried your best and achieved lots.

If you were preparing for exams at school or an interview for your dream job and you were aware of gaps in your knowledge or skill, then you would take steps to fill those gaps before the big day. Obtaining your full licence takes a lot of responsibility and will make a huge difference to your life so please afford it the same priority in trying to find the answer. This can be done in your own time (which is free to you) or in the car with your Instructor.

6.  Train at Your Pace

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with lots of information and new skills or techniques being asked of you. Don’t be afraid to ask for confirmation if you aren’t entirely sure of a piece of information or ask for ‘another go’ if you haven’t quite mastered a particular skill. Your Instructor should be able to tell you when he/she thinks that you are ready to move on to the next stage however, it is important that YOU also feel ready. THAT is more important than anyone else’s opinion.

7.  Trust Your Instructor

Keeping in mind Number 6 above, don’t be scared to ‘give things a go’. If your Instructor is offering you the opportunity to move on, then they must think that you are capable and have the necessary skills; give it a go. At times, a fear of getting it wrong can prevent a person from even trying something new. Be assured that, once you’ve agreed levels of responsibility with your Instructor, they will keep you safe. They don’t want to put you into a situation where your confidence will be knocked or where their car may be damaged. ‘Getting it wrong’ in a safe environment in a driving lesson can produce a great learning opportunity.

Trust your Instructor

8.  Lesson Analysis

At several stages during each lesson your Instructor will encourage you to analyse your performance. This can be done to provide great learning points, to identify any areas of improvement or simply to show how and why you did something really well. It will aid your learning if you also carried out some reflection on each lesson in your own time. By reflecting on your lessons, you could better evaluate your own skills and knowledge. From this you can see what you are good at and what you think you need to improve on. If you keep a set of reflective notes on each lesson you can remind yourself before and then discuss this with your Instructor at the start of the next lesson as an objective.  There are various ways to maintain a Reflective Log; your Instructor should show you one.

A great way to analyse and reflect is by using video supported lesson. At YES! Driving School each of our cars have 2-way cameras fitted. They have a forward-facing camera which points out front and the second camera points into the car. The cameras are recording concurrently so you can watch the hazard developing in front and also see what you are doing (or not) to deal with the hazard. You can then work out what you needed to do differently to be more effective or safe.

9.  Make the Most of Private Practice

If you are fortunate to have access to a car for private practice, your learning can be accelerated, however it is important to get the most from every driving opportunity. Firstly, be aware of the legal requirements to make sure that you are not breaking the law. It is a good idea to invite your parent or friend into one of your lessons so that they can see how you do things in your Instructors’ car. They will see up-to-date driving methods and advice. This will hopefully prevent ‘bad habits’ from creeping in. Each time you drive, try to go out to practice something specific; don’t just go out to drive. Simply driving around is often counter-productive. Start off with little and often driving sessions.

Driving the same route to school, college or work each day can give a false sense of your driving ability because you become familiar with local hazards and how to deal with them. Try to vary your route for a regular journey and, as confidence grows, try some different, more challenging routes. Make sure to reflect on each drive to identify any issues or learning points. If you encounter any issues or if any questions are raised, then text or call your Instructor; I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help.

10.  Are You Ready for Test?

As you improve in confidence and competence you will start discussing with your Instructor about your readiness for test. As a benchmark you could refer to the following:

Are you able to drive the car smoothly, safely, without any help at all? Can you perform each of the manoeuvres without any help at all? Do you deal with junctions, approaching in the right position, at the right speed and in the correct gear? Can you deal with roundabouts effectively and follow signs or Satnav when driving independently? Are you more nervous about your test because you doubt your driving ability or is it just because it’s a test (that’s normal and natural)?

The real big question aside from the test is:

Do you feel confident and safe enough to drive in a way that you won’t put your family and friends at risk from your driving, or indeed any other road user? Would you be happy if your instructor let other learners at your level go for test?

You only want to do your practical test once so make sure you are able to answer these questions confidently.