Learning to drive has been a really big part of my life for the last year, as I’ve been regulary having lessons every week and constantly waiting to be able drive on my own. It’s been a very hectic time in my life, as I’ve had to juggle it with doing my A-Levels, having a job and whilst still trying to hang onto a social life. So, as I passed my test on Monday, I thought I would share my experience of learning to drive and give you a few tips, and a bit of advice along the way.
How did you get started?
Getting started is by far the easiest part of the entire process, because most people have a real wish to learn drive and the chance to have independence. I couldn’t wait to learn to drive as soon as I was 17, and although I ended up waiting until January 2016 because I had a big dancing commitment before then; I really wanted to be able to get behind the wheel.
So, the whole time leading up to my 17th birthday I always knew I wanted a woman to teach me to drive and I had a lady recommended to me from a family friend. I honestly think getting a recommendation is the best way to find a driving instructor, because you know what they’re like and they’ve almost been test run before you learn with them. I also thought that a woman was likely to be patient and understand that you know nothing about cars. This was a really good decision of mine, as it made it so easy to make conversation whilst we were in the car and she quickly learned what type of driver I was.
Originally, before I started to drive I thought that 8 months would be plenty of time to learn, however little did I know that there was a mass of waiting lists, lessons and also frustration ahead of me on this journey. And, this was just the beginning, as there was still my theory test to revise for and my practical test to nail.
What did you enjoy?
The number one thing I’ve loved about driving, right from day one, has been the independence it gives you and the ability for you to go anywhere you want. You’re not tied down to buses, strict time schedule’s or relying on you own personal taxi service. That was something that was always so important for me, throughout the entire process, was to be able to look after myself and not feel dependant on someone else.
Although, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed doing my theory test and learning all the mass of content you need to know, this was one of the easier parts for me. It came quite naturally, as I got the driving theory app and practised every morning and afternoon on the bus journey to and from college. This was like my dedicated time to do the tests and this worked really well for me. Even though I didn’t take my test until June, because I wanted to focus on my exams, I easily could of taken it around March or April. There’s a lot to learn, but I would 100% recommend you get the app, spend small amounts of time doing it, but do it often. Also, don’t book it until you feel ready and please don’t be one of those last minute revisers who thinks they can learn everything in a week, or even a night, before the test.
I’m also really enjoying the fact that I’ve now finally passed my test and I’ve driven myself to college and back home again, for the first time today. I’ve got to admit that I was super nervous and bricking it a little bit, but I’ve loved being able to be independent, have my own music on and never have to rely on the bus EVER again.
What did you struggle with?
The actual driving has been a real struggle for me over the last year, and the fact that I felt like it was such an impossible task. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but I’m used to being quite good and anything I try to do or learn, and so not being able to nail driving straight away was so frustrating for me. There was so many times, about July/August time where I honestly felt like every lesson was struggle and I was going up such a steep hill that I would never be able to get over. It was just being able to grasp everything, think about the car, my observations, indicating and then there was my manoeuvers and looking at all the road signs. There’s just so much to do when your driving, and although it’s taken me a year and 3 months to pass my test, I honestly think it’s made me a better driver and I’ve had a lot more experience than some people my age.
I also really struggled with failing my first test, as there was nothing more in the world that I wanted but to pass my test and be ale to drive on my own. So, I was devastated when I failed the first time I took it. I felt so crap about it, thought I was an awful driver and it knocked my confidence. But more than anything, I didn’t want to have to wait any longer for be able to drive, and the amount of money I felt I’d wasted was unreal. The driving test process if not only the hardest part, but you also have to pass out a fortune for it and you have to wait ages on a list to be able to take it.
However, I know all those struggles and especially when I failed my first test, really made me have to fight and be determined to pass next time. Although I didn’t want to fail originally, it helped me so much with what to expect second time around, and took all the fear of the unknown away form my second test. What’s funny is that everything was different about the second time around, different route, different instructor, different manoeuvre, different independent drive, and I had to do an emergency stop. But, I think that was what I needed to pass, because I tried to completely forget about my first experience and go in with the intention of passing.
With you practical test I would honestly recommend that you make sure you’re ready before you book it, as it’s so expensive and you’ll just waste your time and lower your confidence, it’s honestly not as bad as you think it’s going to be, and just stay calm and give your self a pep talk before hand. That’s what I did and it instantly got me into the right frame of mind to really prove myself in my second test.
I’ve written a more in depth and detailed post about the theory test and the basics of getting started, which you can go and read HERE.