This blog post will be the start of another blog series which will be focused on my experiences of learning to drive. I passed my driving test a couple of months ago, and learning to drive was one of the hardest yet one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life so far. I want to share my own experiences so that I can help others that are currently learning to drive, or may be yet to start learning to drive. This blog series will be split into 6 parts:
Part 1 – My experiences of starting to learn to drive
Part 2 – My experiences of driving lessons
Part 3 – My experiences of the theory test
Part 4 – My experiences of preparing for the driving test
Part 5 – My experiences of driving test day
Part 6 – Tips for people that may find learning to drive challenging.
This blog post will be Part 1 of this blog series.
When it came to starting the process of learning to drive, the primary reason why I wanted to learn was that I knew that it would be a useful skill to have going forward. I live in Harrow, which is in the outskirts of London and has very good public transport links. This meant that there wasn’t as much need for me to know how to drive compared to if I was living in a rural area. However, I knew that learning to drive would come in handy for that additional flexibility. This additional flexibility and the fact that knowing how to drive would make my life easier in the future motivated me to start the process of learning to drive.
I graduated from university in July 2020, and wanted to start driving lessons straight after. However, the UK was still in a bad phase of the pandemic, and there was uncertainty on how the pandemic would have impacted my graduate job which was set to start in September 2020. This meant that I waited until I started my graduate job before I started the process of learning to drive. Unfortunately, by the time I had settled in my graduate job and was ready to start learning to drive, lockdown 2 and lockdown 3 hit in the UK. I was only able to have one lesson between lockdown 2 and lockdown 3. I didn’t have any more lessons until April 2021, which was when restrictions started to ease. However, I was able to have weekly lessons from April 2021 onwards.
When it came to finding a good instructor, I initially looked around driving company websites to see instructor reviews and prices that instructors charged. However, it was clear that there were a lot of instructors out there who had very good reviews and charged broadly similar prices. This made it difficult when it came to narrowing down the list of potential instructors into a smaller shortlist. However, my Mum also asked around, and there were two people that recommended the same instructor (these two people were not related in any way yet coincidentally were taught by the same instructor). This showed that this particular instructor was very good and he was happy to take me on when we got in touch with him. Due to my work schedule, I needed lessons either during early mornings before work, or during the weekends. Although this instructor didn’t work in the weekends, he was able to do early mornings, which worked for me.
From my own experiences, some of the tips that I would give when it comes to starting the process of learning to drive are:
Make sure you have the time to commit to driving lessons until you pass your test
To give some rough timescales, going from a complete beginner to test standard takes about 6 months for the average person with regular weekly lessons. Some people take less time and others take more time. However, it is important that you are able to commit to having weekly driving lessons from your first lesson until you take your driving test. You may miss the odd week here or there, but you should be having driving lessons on most weeks. There is no point doing driving lessons for a month and then taking a long break from it. For my specific situation, I knew that there was nothing that would get in the way in having a 2-hour lesson before work once a week. This consistency of lessons helped me make progress and build muscle memory with driving. Therefore, before you start the process of learning to drive, you should first ask yourself the question “Do I have the time over the next few months to commit to driving lessons?”.
Remember that it is not a bad thing to learn to drive earlier than you need to
When it comes to starting the process of learning to drive, one of the reasons why people hold it off is because they don’t need to learn to drive at that point of time. They could be living in an area with good public transport, or they may not be able to afford a car. However, the way I think about driving is that it is a skill that once you have it, you have it forever. Therefore, it isn’t a bad thing to learn to drive earlier than you need to, as you will have that skill for when you need it in the future. If you wait until you need to know how to drive (for example if you move to a rural area), then it can be more stressful. One big regret I have is not learning at 17, and getting my driving test out of the way before I went to university so that I didn’t have to worry about it afterwards.
Try to block book lessons to begin with
In my opinion, one of the underrated things that help when learning to drive is being organised. Block booking lessons is one good way to be organised. The start of the learning to drive journey is difficult, as there is a lot to take in at first. Block booking lessons at the start helps a lot with staying consistent and making good progress at the start of your driving journey. If you don’t block book lessons, you run the risk of having gaps between your driving lessons because your instructor is too busy, and this can hinder progress. Another advantage of block booking lessons is that you can have your lessons on the same day and time every week. This works nicely with fitting driving lessons with your busy schedule. At the start, I had driving lessons every Wednesday from 7am to 9am, and this consistency helped with fitting driving lessons alongside my weekly routine.