Passing the driving test, part 3: Five tips for speeding up the process of learning to drive

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Tony Santos


The limbo between your 17th birthday and that first, intoxicating solo drive is a strangely emotional one. The promise of independence, the financial strain of motoring, the emotional turmoil of pressurised learning… The stress may take its toll, and is one of the reasons why people often fail their first test.

However, there are a few ways to make the process a bit calmer. Even if you don’t pass first time, these tips could make your time behind the wheel of your instructor’s car just that little bit more productive.

Don’t feel pressured into learning quickly

One of the main pitfalls facing new drivers, especially those who learn at the age of 17, is the frantic rush to pass. This is counterproductive for two reasons.

Firstly, learning to drive quickly doesn’t always mean learning to drive well. You will benefit from the tuition you receive from your driving instructor and although you’re impatient to get out on the open road, the long-term benefits of completing a comprehensive course of lessons far outweigh the excitement of being the first in your class with a car.

Secondly, putting extra pressure on yourself could adversely affect your chances of passing the test. Overexcitement and the pressure of trying to pass first time may result in a loss of concentration and a poor performance on test day. Driving is an activity that requires calm, collected responsibility – stress doesn’t help with that.

Start learning the Highway Code early

Just because you haven’t got your provisional licence doesn’t mean you can’t start to learn to drive. The Highway Code is available at bookshops throughout the UK (as well as online) and remains the most important part of your theory test. You should know the laws of the road, not just for the exams but also for your time as a motorist.

This is particularly relevant to car-mad young teenagers who still have a few years left until they are able to get behind the wheel. Learning the Highway Code at the age of 14 – and, where possible, talking with their parents about road skills – will be advantageous when it comes to their theory test revision.

Begin with clutch control

It might seem peculiar to focus on such a specific element of learning to drive, but clutch control is the most significant hurdle a new driver needs to overcome. This is mainly because a lack of clutch control could lead to frequent stalling – and a loss of confidence as a result.

Your driving instructor will probably put an emphasis on clutch control in your initial lessons. If you have a car you can practise in, clutch control doesn’t require much space – you could learn where the ‘bite point’ is, for example, without actually moving the car.

Do practice theory tests

The best resource for theory test practice tests is the Safe Driving For Life site. Others exist at and around the internet, as well as in apps for mobile phones.

Ask your driving instructor for up-to-date information on which tests are current. Your instructor will know what’s best for you and where your weaknesses are – he may even have some free DVDs and ‘hazard perception’ learning material for you to borrow.

Ensure your copy of the Highway Code is up-to-date.

A note on theory tests: When booking your theory test you’ll generally get the best price by booking the Driving Standards Agency. Some sites may actually charge more than booking direct – follow the link on the websiteto find out the current price of tests.

Practise outside lessons – if you have an appropriate car

It’s tempting to cram in as much practice as possible when you’re learning to drive. The experience is fun and new, no matter whose car you’re in. But if you’re only just starting to learn the principles of driving, learning in more than one car could be counterproductive.

Most UK driving instructors use small, modern hatchbacks. If your family has an old people carrier, the driving experience will be different. While the worn clutch on your parents’ car could make driving more difficult, it’s actually likely to be a lot more forgiving than the fresh, snappy clutch on your instructor’s car. When practising outside of your driving lessons, it is important to remember to insure your car, you should try these car insurance offers from More Th>n.

Finally, don’t book your test until you feel truly ready. Rushing into taking your test too early is not likely to end in success, and it’s far better to build up road experience gradually – it takes a bit longer, but it’ll make you more confident when it comes to your test.

Image credit – driving instructor by dirktherabbit on Flickr

Categorized | Car News, Car Tips

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