I’m now 17 years old; this means I can’t drink, I can’t smoke, I can’t go to a nightclub, I can’t watch 18 certificate movies – well at least not legally. But there is one thing I am allowed to do. I can drive a car.
However, sadly I cannot just get in a car and drive off at 100mph into the sunset. No, apparently, first you need these things called “lessons”.
So I started taking driving lessons around a month ago and so far it’s going rather well. By “rather well” I mean I haven’t crashed into any trees yet, or killed any pedestrians, or even driven it off of a cliff for that matter.
I’ve successfully overcome the peril of roundabouts, picked up a lot of advice from my instructor and parents and overall learnt a lot about the world of driving.
So why are so many of my fellow 16/17-year-old friends either petrified of getting behind the driver’s seat or so eager that they start drooling every time I mention that I have a lesson the next day? It’s hard to say, but – after a whole 6 weeks of driving experience – here are my tips for both the petrified and the eager.
- Don’t be petrified – Don’t be afraid to fail; failing is good. Chances are you will stall the car a number of times and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you learn how to not stall it a couple of lessons later.
- Don’t be too eager – If you go into a driving lesson over-confident then the chances are you’ll be the one who drives the car into a cliff, either through not listening to your instructor properly or getting too ahead of yourself and deciding to get it up to 70mph on your first attempt.
- Don’t get embarrassed – The first time I drove out on the open road I was trembling at the thought of stalling in front of lots of other vehicles. But here’s a fun fact for you: all the people who are driving on the roads today were, at one point, a learner too! Meaning they went through exactly the same thing you are, meaning they cannot judge you if you mess up. This brings me to number 4…
- DO mess up – Obviously I can’t speak for all driving instructors, but mine always re-iterates the point that messing up is a good thing, just so long as you learn from it. Just remember that your instructor will – probably – have duel controls so even if you do make a mistake nothing catastrophic will happen.
- Read the Highway Code – As boring as it may be, there’s no point in being able to drive like Jensen Button when you don’t know what a stop sign means. You’ll need to have at least a basic understanding of how the roads work.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people – This is a rule that I have personally broken in order to have a little friendly competition between my friends, but even then we all know that everybody learns at different speeds and people will be good and bad at different things.
- Don’t fear roundabouts – They’re not that bad. Trust me.
- Always concentrate – Yes I know you think it’s obvious, but it’s easy for your mind to wander – especially if you’re getting complacent. Keep your eyes on the road.
- Listen to your instructor – You are the student, they are the master. They will be well aware of what will happen on the driving test which you are working towards, and they know what’s best to progress your learning. So you should listen to them and take all of their advice on board.
- Have fun! – Driving is awesome. Like, really awesome. And although the first time I hit 70mph was more fun than learning how to bay park, it’s all really enjoyable – especially if you get along with your instructor and are focused on the job at hand.