Top Tips for All Learner Drivers
Before you can get the keys to your very own car, first, you'll need to learn to drive. Whilst it's not anyone's favourite part of driving, it's necessary to ensure you're ready for the road. Here, we've got some top tips for all new and learner drivers, so you can navigate the learning part and get the all-important pass from the driving instructor. 😃👍
Get Your Provisional Licence
First things first, you need to get a provisional driving licence before you can even start learning how to drive a vehicle. To qualify for a provisional licence, you need to:
- be at least 15 years and nine months old
- Have a valid UK passport or national identity card
- Have proof of your identity, address and national insurance number
- Meet the necessary medical standards.
There are two primary ways to apply for a provisional driving licence: online and by post.
- Apply online. Applying online is the most popular method for most learners. You can apply online on the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) website and will need to provide your personal details, along with a fee of £34 by debit or credit card.
- By post. You can also apply by post using a D1 form, which is obtainable from the post office or downloaded from the DVLA website. You'll need to provide the necessary documents, including a passport-style photograph, and pay the fee by cheque or postal order.
Once you have a provisional driving licence, it's time to start driving, as long as a qualified driver over the age of 21 accompanies you. They must also hold a full driving licence for at least three years. Most learners use a qualified professional driving instructor who teaches people to drive for a living. Any car you practise in needs to display L plates on the front and rear of the vehicle.
Finding the right driving instructor
When it comes to taking actual driving lessons, you'll want an instructor who can teach you how to drive calmly. While it might be tempting to get a friend and relative to teach you, your best bet is to use a qualified instructor with a car set up for learner drivers (eg, dual control brakes).
Ask for recommendations from friends, family or colleagues for driving instructors in your area. You can also search online, and there are many websites featuring driving instructors in your area. Some popular options include the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Association of Approved Driving Instructors (ADI).
Look for reviews and ratings of driving instructors in your area to get an idea of the quality of their teaching. You can find reviews on websites like Google Reviews or ask the instructor for references.
Make sure they're qualified
It's important to ensure that the instructor you choose is fully qualified. All driving instructors must be registered with the DSA and hold a valid ADI badge – you can check an instructor's qualifications by searching the DSA's ADI register.
If you are a driver with additional needs and maybe requires a car adapted to your needs then do look up instructor with the appropriate experience - check out our blog on help for disabled learner drivers.
Consider the instructor's teaching style
Different instructors have different teaching styles, so it's good to find an instructor you feel comfortable with. Consider scheduling a lesson with a few different instructors to determine the best fit.
Choose an instructor who uses a dual-controlled car
Choosing an instructor who uses a dual-controlled vehicle means you can focus on learning to drive rather than worrying about the safety of the car. The instructor will be able to step in and use the brakes should they need to, giving you added peace of mind in the process.
Consider the instructor's availability
Make sure your chosen instructor has availability that fits with your schedule. It's also a good idea to ask about the instructor's cancellation policy if you need to reschedule a lesson for any reason.
Consider an intensive driving course
Some people are really keen to learn quickly and get on the road as soon as possible. An intensive course could be the answer. Especially if you are a person who learns quickly and is good at cramming for exams.
Preparing Before the Lesson
Ensure you're well prepared for the lesson to get the most out of your driving experience. Classes typically last around an hour and allow you to get comfortable driving around the roads. Here are some tips for how best to prepare for your driving lesson.
Familiarise yourself with the controls of the car
Before your lesson, ensure you are familiar with the car's controls. This includes the accelerator, brake, clutch, gears and steering wheel. Not to mention the things you don't necessarily think about right away, such as indicators, windows and other little gadgets in the car.
Wear comfortable clothing
Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and easily while operating the car's controls, and choose appropriate footwear. Avoid wearing loose clothing, or shoes that could get in the way or obstruct your view. Shoes, in particular, are very important. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes that make it easier to drive the car. Trainers and plimsolls are often good choices.
Arrive on time
Start the lesson on good terms with your driving instructor, and make sure you arrive on time so you can start on schedule.
Bring your provisional licence
Bring your provisional licence to the lesson so your instructor can check it. Plus, if the police pull you over for any reason, you'll need to present your provisional licence.
Focus and listen
Try to focus and listen to your instructor during the lesson. Ask questions if you are unsure about something, and take notes if it helps you to remember what you have learned. It's also a good idea to stay hydrated and make sure you have eaten beforehand.
Practice outside of lessons
In addition to your driving lessons, try practising what you have learned outside the lessons. Earlier, we said it wasn't a good idea to rely on friends and family to teach you, but asking them to help on top of your professional lessons can help you get more familiar with driving.
Only Book Your Test When You Feel Ready
We get it – you want to pass your driving test as soon as possible. Therefore, you might be eager to take the test before you're ready. While it's tempting, waiting until you're ready to take the test is your best move.
Speak with your driving instructor, as they'll have a good read on whether or not you're ready to take your driving test. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide when you're ready. But there's no harm in getting advice from instructors and other people you know who passed their driving test.
Don't Forget About the Theory Test
Ok, so you're taking driving lessons and picking up the basics. You feel pretty confident; maybe you've even mastered a few manoeuvres, like turning in the road and reversing around a corner. But before you can go ahead and take your practical driving test, you'll need to book a theory test.
Study the Highway Code
The Highway Code is a set of rules governing how you should behave when driving on UK roads. Make sure you are familiar with all the rules and regulations outlined in the Highway Code, as it plays a significant role in the theory test (plus, it's pretty important to know the rules when you drive).
Practice with mock tests
You'll find many online resources and practice tests to help you prepare for the theory test. These mock tests give you a good idea of the types of questions you can expect to see on the test.
Review the hazard perception test
The hazard perception test is a video-based test that assesses your ability to spot potential hazards on the road. You'll need to do it in addition to the theory test, so go online and search for hazard perception tests, so you get lots of practice.
Take a practice test under test conditions
Try taking a practice test under test conditions to get a feel for the real theory test. This means finding a quiet place to sit and completing the test in the allotted time.
Arrive early on the day of the test
Make sure you arrive at the test centre early and give yourself plenty of time to relax and focus before the test begins.
Stay calm and focused
It's natural to feel anxious before the test, but try to stay calm and focused. Take deep breaths and try to relax. You've got this, so don't worry.
Read the questions carefully
Make sure you read the questions carefully and take your time to think about the answers. The theory test is multiple choice. And whilst that doesn't mean you should guess the answers if you're unsure, it's better to make an educated guess rather than leaving it blank. If you have spare time go back and review your answers.
Passing the Test
Learning to drive and taking your theory and practical tests can be nerve-wracking. We've all been there, and there's a real desire to pass as quickly as possible so you can start enjoying the freedom that comes with having a car. But by slowing down just a little bit, taking everything in your stride, you can learn to drive with confidence and pass your test with flying colours. You might want to consider also doing an advanced driving course, this will give you more confidence and cover more challenging situations - statistically new and young drivers do have more accidents so it's definitely worth considering . God luck! You'll be in your car, listening to your banging playlist in no time. 🎶🎸