June 4, 2013

Don’t Fear the First Lesson

Want to start driving, but you’re nervous to take that first step? Fear not, here at Britannia we deal with nervous learner drivers every day, and our instructors are experts with helping to beat motoring anxiety in our pupils, regardless of their age.

Most nervousness comes from an innate fear of the unknown. So let’s break down that daunting first lesson for you – if you know exactly what to expect, you are almost certain to be much less nervous!

–          Pick-up Location: First things first, consider carefully where you will be picked up from. Most learners will choose their own home, however if you are choosing a place such as college or work, consider what time you will be picked up and how busy the roads will be around here… You definitely don’t want a rush of traffic around you on your first lesson!

–          Cockpit Drill: Your instructor will run through the cockpit drill with you. This consists of checking your doors, seats, steering wheel, seatbelts and mirrors – If you have been a passenger in a car on more than one occasion, you will probably already have a good idea of how to adjust seats, seatbelts and the like – this is basically a formality of how to adjust the features of the car to enable you to drive at your best and a brief introduction to what controls are what are where they can be found in the car.

–          Your instructor will take you to a suitable location – most likely a quiet residential street – and allow you to begin operating the vehicle. Don’t be daunted by this – you are in a safe place in the hands of a professional – nothing can go wrong. You are highly unlikely to put yourself or any other motorist in danger, and if you still feel uneasy remember, learner cars are dual controlled for a reason. Just give it your best shot.

–          Your instructor will start you off with the basics of moving off and stopping. This will involve an explanation of how the gears and clutch work and advice on safety and clutch control. Most learner drivers say this is the easy part, as at first your instructor will only allow you to move a short distance before applying the brakes and pulling over. This procedure will be repeated several times throughout the lesson, most likely increasing in length driven and duration of driving the car as your instructor realises how much of a natural driver you are.

–          Accept that you will stall. Stalling is simply part of the learning curve of being a driver. This will almost certainly happen on your first lesson, and many afterwards, and this is not as terrible as it sounds. Your instructor will be expecting this, and they will be well prepared for the eventuality, so don’t worry about it, simply recover well from this, learn from it, and move on.

–          Have a debrief: At the end of the lesson, your instructor will take you back to your drop-off location, and it is always good to have a discussion on how you both think the lesson went, to vent any nerves or frustrations, and to plan a course of action for future lessons. We would recommend this at the end of every lesson to chart your progress and to enable you to learn to drive faster.

The main thing is to relax and to be able to enjoy your driving lessons. The tenser you are, the harder it will be to take in information and to maintain concentration. Just try to enjoy the experience, remember that everyone was a learner once, and we look forward to seeing you on the roads in no time!

Has this article made your first driving lesson seem less daunting? Sound off in the comments section below!

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