10 Tips for Nervous Learner Drivers

Published on 13 May 2015

Learning to drive is a mixed bag. On one hand you can’t wait to get out there and gain your freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. On the other hand, the thought of undertaking lessons and tackling the driving test is enough to make you want to throw in the towel before you’ve even begun.

Just remember, millions and millions of people have been in exactly the same position as you, and they made it. So can you! Here are Liberty Insurance’s top 10 learner driver tips to help get you through this.


10 Tips for Nervous Learner Drivers


1. Get to Know Your Car Inside and Out

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. Your car’s manual will help you here.

2. Study the RSA’s Rules Of The Road Book

Buy the book at your local bookshop or newsagent or download it for free from RSA.ie. It’s not only useful for answering your questions such as are learner drivers allowed on the motorway and where are learner drivers allowed to drive: you'll also be asked theory questions from this book as part of your driver theory test. 

3. Talk to Friends who Have Gone Through This Already

If you’re feeling nervous, talk to one of your friends or family members or even neighbours who have done the test recently. They'll tell you what their own experience of the test was like and go through the answers with you. They’ll give you real-world advice and invariably tell you it was a lot easier than they thought it would be. But again, as always the key is preparation. If you prepare well enough, you'll pass your test.

4. Consider the Frequency of Your Lessons

Don’t just take the 12 official lessons from a certified instructor, but find a friend or family member willing to take you out on the road. 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.

5. 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 driving habits. It’s handy to have lessons from family and friends, but they must be over 21, have had a driving license 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.

6. Remember, Everyone Makes Mistakes

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 move on. By dwelling on them, you’ll just end up making even more mistakes.

7. Try Some Breathing and Visualisation Techniques

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 count to seven as you breathe out. By breathing 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 license. The feeling of throwing away your L plates or hopping into the car to visit friends whenever you like is a useful tool to help you focus on your wider goal.

8. Do a Pre-test

This is a great way to take the fear out of the real test – like the mocks before the Leaving Cert. Basically, an experienced and qualified instructor will play the role of a driving test inspector. They’ll take you along the test route to see how you do. What this does is it picks up your obvious mistakes and makes you feel more at ease when you go to do the real test.

9. Have Your Documents Ready and Your Car Prepared

Before you go to the test centre, make sure you have all your documents with you, including your provisional license and your insurance certificate. Make sure your car is in perfect working order; you can fail for driving a car considered defective too.

10. After You’ve Passed Your Test

Just because you've 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.


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