My Driving Experience - Learning to Drive, Tests and Getting your First Car! AD

If you're learning to drive, thinking about learning to drive, approaching your 17th birthday or just plain curious, then sit tight because I'm about to give you a (fairly long) post giving you as much detail as I can about what you can expect when learning to drive, taking your theory test, taking your practical test and getting your first car!

F I N D I N G   A N   I N S T R U C T O R
Finding a good instructor is key to ensuring that you enjoy your experience learnign to drive, as well as learning in the est possible way so you can pass as soon as possible! Most of my friends went on recommendations from others, and really it is word of mouth so make sure you ask as many people as you can about who they learnt with and what their experience was like. I actually struggled to find an instructor at first, I knew I wanted a female instructor because I personally felt like that would make me more comfortable, and I wanted them to be reliable and available because I was desperate to get on the road as soon as possible. All of the instructors that were recommended to me were either fully booked or didnt get back to me, so I was left to find one by myself. I found my instructor on Yell which is a great place to find local businesses. I'd actually never heard of this driving school, nor had I seen her car about so I just trusted her good reviews, gave her a call and luckily she was available so I booked my first lesson. I was so lucky that I clicked with her straight away, because alot of my friends have had to switch driving instructors a few times which was a lot of hassle and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. I got on really well with her, she was one of the cheapest in my area, she was patient and organised and we went through everything step by step.

L E A R N I N G   T O   D R I V E
Learning to drive can be quite stressful, I'm not gonna sit there and tell you its easy because it isn't, it definitely has its ups and downs! You'll have lessons where everything goes perfectly and you're convinced that you'll just walk your test and that you can pretty much conquer the world. Then you'll also have lessons where everything goes wrong, you want to punch your instructor, everyone on the road is horrible to you and you're utterly convinced that you'll never pass a test. However, that's all part of the learning curve, and trust me when I say this, you'll get there eventually. Stick with it and keep striving to achieve your goal! There were so many times where I thought 'do you know what?! I'm rubbish at this and it's not working and I'm wasting my money' and I was so tempted to pack it in. I'm eternally grateful that I kept going, because I wouldn't be sat here writing this post with a full driving licence and the car of my dreams parked outside! There are a lot of things to learn and it does all seem very overwhelming at first because obviously when you're driving, your're constantly multi-tasking. It all becomes second nature to you after a while and you find yourself doing it without having to think about it too much, trust me it becomes fairly straight forward the more you practice. Like with any skill, it really does take practice and lots of experience to become pro at it.

T H E   T H E O R Y   T E S T
This is the first scary hurdle you'll come to on your journey to the road. Once you have read your highway code, had a look through a theory book and watched some hazard perception clips, you can book your theory test! This is usually held in a centre local to where you live, you just book a date and a time that suits you and turn up as best prepared as you can. You get a multiple choice section to start with, for which the pass rate is 43/50 and then you have the hazard perception section where you watch clips and have to click on the hazards for which the pass rate is 44/75. To pass your theory test, you must pass both sections. It is fairly straightforward if you are well prepared and don't crumble under pressure! You can find some amazing DVD's and books on Amazon which I found really helpful, I passed my theory first time getting 50/50 on multiple choice and 65/75 on Hazard Perception. There are also some amazing phone apps you can get to practice the test with, practicing is definitley the key to success when it comes to driving.

T H E   P R A C T I C A L   T E S T
Once you have passed your theory and are confident that you're ready, it's time to book your practical test! On the day of your test, you will usually have a lesson before hand jsut to go over any little things that you fel you need to work on and to get you ready.  I had a one hour lesson and drove myself to the test centre, I just did one last recap of my manoeuvre's and just had a little chat with my instructor to ease the nerves, because I was literally bricking it.  I went into the test centre and sat in the waiting room for about 10 minutes, before my examiner came out and called my name. She was literally so lovely, I was very lucky to have an examiner that really put me at ease. I showed her my provisional license and then I had to sign the test sheet, and then she asked me to walk her out to the car. I did my test in my Instructor's car because that's what I learnt in, but it's completely down to you which car you take your test in, as long as it has the right insurance. First off you do an eyesight test where you're asked to read a number plate from the required distance, and then you get into the car whilst the examiner walks round the car and does a few checks. Once the examiner is in the car, they'll ask you your show me tell me questions which are on how the car works and its basic controls. The driving test is around 30-40 minutes long, it inclues 1 show me and 1 tell me question, a manoeuvre, a 10 minute independent drive and possible an emergency stop. I was told there was a 40% chance I'd get an emergency stop, and I didn't get one but I know a few people who have so make sure you're prepared for that! Your examiner directs you on the test apart from the independent drive, where they'll tell you to follow signs for a certain place, or they'll tell you a group of directions in advance. If you mess up with these directions, it doesnt matter, they are just observing that you are driving safely and correctly, they aren't testing your ability to follow instructions! On my test she directed me to another local town, and I had to do a reverse/parallel park which is my least favourite manoeuvre but I nailed it! Remember to be looking in all the right places and checking your mirrors and blindspots, thats what they are looking out for when you're manoeuvring. Then on my independent drive I was told to follow signsback to Bristol, which was fairly straightforward. She talked to me and made conversation throughout which was really good because before I knew it, we were heading back to the test centre! Once I got back, we parked up and my instructor came back out. This is the bit where they tell you whether you have passed or failed, which can either be amazing or not so great. Luckily for me, I passed first time which I was ecstatic about! They then run you through where you went wrong regardless of whether you passed or failed, I had 5 minors in total for little things which I thought at the time she was a bit picky over, I can't for the life of me think of what they were now but they were nothing too serious. That feeling when the examiner turns round and says 'I'm pleased to tell you that you've passed' is honestly worth all of the stress of all of the lessons that went pear-shaped.

G E T T I N G   Y O U R   F I R S T   C A R
Now this is the exciting bit! Once you've passed, if you haven't already got one, then you're probably going to want a car! I knew what car I wanted from the get go, and I had meticulously worked out all of my finances about 6 months prior to passing because I had done my research and knew exactly what I was going to do. If you didn't already know, I bought a brand new mint green fiat 500 the day after I passed my test, and by the time it arrived in Bristol, I think it had been about 10 days since I passed. When buying your first car, it is vital you do your research. Going for something reliable, safe, economical, cheap to run, low road tax and cheap to ensure is your best bet. My car was brand new so I don't pay any road tax, it does about 60mpg and £35 of fuel fills my tank. My insurance is also very cheap because my car is new, and I also have a black box which keeps costs down even more. If you have the budget for it, a Fiat 500 is the perfect first car! I've also heard great things about Citreon C1's, Peugoet 108's, Ford Fiesta's and so many others, definitely do your research and try before you buy! If you want to know more about my car, then let me know and I could definitely do a full post on it in the future and give you a little tour!

A handy resource that may help you Book Learn Pass which is a website that helps you learn to drive, practice for your theory and book driving lessons in your local area. I wish I had heard of this amazing company when I was learning to drive because I think it would've really helped me!

If you've stuck to the end, then I salute you! Let me know whhat your driving experiences are! Can you drive? Do you want to learn to drive? What car do you have? I'd love to know!

Emily xx