I was so hoping that I’d get to write this post this weekend, and I’m about to tell you why…
I passed my driving test!!! Yesss! Result!! Thank you, thank you, enough of the applause…
But in all seriousness, I did it. And it was possibly the scariest exam I’ve ever had (and that is saying something), but I did it. Just.
And I thought, because I like to think of this blog as somewhere that people can go to get (awful) advice and learn how to (ish) adult, I’d share my experience with you guys, and hopefully provide some driving expertise and tips on how to pass your test (and stay safe on the road!!).
1. Be Confident With your Instructor
I cannot stress this point enough. In July, when I started to learn to drive, I was given a recommendation by a friend to go with a certain instructor in my local area who I will not name. He seemed fine at first, but as time wore on, and I found myself getting more scared to drive instead of less, I realised it might be time to switch. I think, at the root of it, our personalities clashed. I’m quiet, like to be calm and collected, and told it’s ok to make a mistake. He was loud, angry, and judgemental of people all around us, and that did not work for me.
I was then recommended an incredible lady-driving instructor, who was exactly what I needed, and got me exactly where I needed to be to pass, in exactly the time we had. I cannot stress enough how important it is that the other person sat in the car, teaching you, is someone who you personally think is a good driver, and generally a good person. It makes all the difference.
2. Work With the Car
At risk of sounding completely stupid, bear with me on this one. When I first got into a car, I was petrified. I saw it as this huge, menacing, metal death trap box that I had to conquer, but that is absolutely not true.
You have to think of any car you get in as something that you control, not something that needs to be conquered. From the minute you turn an engine on, nothing can happen that you don’t want it to, and that’s a fact. Don’t force a car to do your bidding, work together (I see my car as an adorable little old lady that sometimes just needs a push, which helps!) to get where you want to go!
3. Know That You Won’t Get Everything the First Time
This works for everything in life, not just driving, but is a good point to keep in mind. No matter what your previous experience, how good you think you’ll be, how hard you work at it, or how much you want it, you are never going to master the art of driving straight away.
There will be bad lessons, and amazing lessons, and times where you never want to see another bloody steering wheel ever again, but that’s life. If you mess up (I have, many a time, and I still do even though I’ve passed), it’s okay to be upset, but the most important thing is to keep your head up, chuck pride away, and keep trying.
4. Trust Your Instructor
Sometimes, the people that were teaching me to drive, would say something that I thought was absolutely ludicrous. I couldn’t possibly do this or that, I’ll crash, I’ll die, the car will stop, etc, etc. But there is a reason why they have the qualifications to teach you, and they know their stuff. Trust what they say and try and do what they’re asking, even if it sounds like it won’t work. It will.
5. Practice More Than Just In Lessons (if you cant, its not the end of the world)
This point only really applies to people that can do this. And by it, I mean practice in a car other than your instructors, and with someone else, like a family member (obviously one that is legal to take you out driving, and in a car that you are insured as a learner on).
While this point, I think, is super helpful and can really speed up (geddit?) the process, it also helps with confidence driving, and having someone you know and trust with you can be invaluable, it is not essential. This point is only for the people who can afford, or organise this type of practice. Luckily, while I was learning, we bought my car, and a few family members were kind enough to take me on little drives around the area.
However, saying this, if you have a chance to drive another car, don’t be phased if you’re great at driving one, and shit at driving another. Every car is different, and it is completely understandable that the change will throw you off. Give it time, and be patient.
6. Don’t Get in a Faff
If you get something wrong, if you’re holding people up, if you keep stalling, if you can’t actually move and you’re starting to get that freaking-out feeling – don’t.
I know it’s easier said than done, but try and keep calm. Everyone’s been a learner before, they’ve all been there. If you keep calm, take a second to breath, and sort out your mind (learning calming techniques if you get easily stressed and for your test could be an amazing idea!) then you’ll do just brilliantly.
7. Believe in Yourself
Following from the previous point and keeping mentally on-the-ball, you have to be able to believe in yourself to be able to drive. This isn’t me being all mind-affects-the-body, it’s actually a proven thing. If you can make yourself believe you can do it, you will find it so much easier. Honest.
7. Driving Is For Life…
Learning to drive is a life skill. It sounds obvious, but its easily forgotten when you’re learning. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whole “I need to pass my test” feeling that we’re so used to from school exams, that it almost feel like the whole experience would stop after you’ve passed your test, but really that’s just the beginning.
Everyone who’s been driving for years has told me that the real learning only starts when you start driving yourself, so don’t think of learning as just having to get through the test. Think of learning to drive as the start of a skill that will last throughout your life (which it is). You don’t have to be perfect, but being safe and being comfortable is the most important thing of all.
I hope this was useful for some of you who are learning/thinking of learning to drive! If you have any questions about learning, the test, theory test, etc (UK only I’m afraid, no idea what learning is like anywhere else!) I will be only too happy to help!
Stay safe out there guys, and wish me luck on the roads! See you tomorrow for blogmas day 11!