The open road, a feeling of freedom and no more buses; for some people, getting their L plates on and into the driving seat can be exhilarating. But for others, the thought of it is enough to make them break out in a sweat.
If you’re one of these people, here are some simple steps you can take to calm you down and get you test ready in no time.
1. Get to know your car inside and out
lift the bonnet and learn the basic workings of the engine
Once you’ve mastered the controls of your car, the more comfortable you’ll feel driving it. So sit inside it and get to know what every lever, pedal and button does. This will stop you from fumbling around in a panic for the correct wipers, lights or heating controls the next time you need them. You should also lift the bonnet and learn the basic workings of the engine, including what and where the following are: brake fluid reservoir, dip stick, oil refill cap, engine coolant reservoir and windscreen washer reservoir – all things you could be asked about on the driving test.
2. Consider the frequency of your lessons
It’s great if you find a friend or family member willing to take you out, but if you’re relying on official driving instructor lessons alone, then don’t space them out too much. Lessons are expensive but an hour of driving a week may not be enough to get you feeling comfortable every time you get behind the wheel. It’s much better to do several hours in a week in the run up to a test instead. Some driving schools offer special intensive week-long courses for nervous drivers, with a test at the end, which are worth looking into.
Some driving schools offer special intensive week-long courses for nervous drivers
3. Pick the right instructor
When learning to drive, it’s important to learn how to drive safely and confidently from the beginning, without picking up bad habits. It’s handy to have lessons from family and friends, but they must be over 21, have had a driving licence for three years and be qualified and insured to drive the vehicle you’re learning in.
Qualified driving instructors are specially trained and have lots of experience and knowledge. They won’t let you get to a dangerous point and remember their vehicles have dual controls, a relaxing thought in itself.
4. Remember, mistakes happen to everyone
Stalling at a roundabout, pulling out of a junction when you shouldn’t, being beeped at because you were taking too long to perform a manoeuvre; these are all experiences that every learner has and for some drivers, can become bigger incidents than they really are. So when they happen to you, learn from them and then move on. By dwelling on them, you’ll just end up making even more mistakes.
5. Try some breathing and visualisation techniques
Deep breathing exercises to relax your body can be used before and during your lessons.
Deep breathing exercises to relax your body can be used before and during your lessons. Try this; count to five as you breathe in and counting to seven as you breathe out. By breating out more slowly than you breath in, you’ll remove the focus from your anxiety and force your body into relaxing.
Another tip is to keep visualising life after you get your licence. The feeling of throwing away your bus pass or hopping in the car to visit friends whenever you like is a useful tool to help you focus on your wider goal.
6. After you’ve passed your test
Just because you have officially been certified as having the right skills to drive, your nerves won’t magically disappear, so get used to your newly found freedom slowly. Wait until you’re really comfortable before taking passengers, keep your phone switched off and music on low. And if you feel nervous about driving on the motorway, you can always take a motorway lesson with a qualified instructor.