Advice for new drivers and learners

A month ago today I passed my driving test. A fact you all know because I mention it every three seconds. While I'm shoehorning in driving references left, right and centre, let me take a moment to write a helpful post with my advice to new drivers and those who are still learning. This is all based on my experience so may not match up entirely to your own, but hopefully it will still help somewhat.
Hints for new drivers

It took me three attempts to pass and from what I've heard from friends, family and Twitter, this is pretty average. After failing my first test, I took to viewing the next two as chances to understand the driving test procedures and learn what I needed to do to pass. The second test, I failed on an observation within the first 30 seconds. I mean that literally. I hadn't even left the car park! Of course he couldn't tell me at the time though so I had to go through the whole test before finding out. However, it did mean I was super hot on my observations for the next one, which helped me pass. Rather than thinking "Oh man, this is a test", just think of it as a special lesson geared towards learning more about the test. If you fail, you can always take it again so no biggie. 

Likewise, if you make a mistake in the test and believe you've failed, just keep going. I thought I'd failed my last one because I stalled so many times but the instructor was lenient because the rest of my driving was fine. Remember the test is essentially just an assessment of whether you will be safe on the roads. A handful of safe mistakes won't fail you. 

I also found it helpful to search "driving test tomorrow" on Twitter the night before my test to see how many other people were feeling nervous. There was something reassuring about knowing I wasn't alone.


Get P plates. I cannot emphasise this enough. Some people don't like them because they're a hindrance and, at first, I wasn't going to use them. However, I was so incredibly nervous that I wanted people to know I was new and not just a terrible driver. Once I'd stuck them on, other drivers were much more patient, gave me more room and even helped me out when I got in tricky situations like struggling to fit into a tight parking space. There will come a time when you're more confident and the expectations of others become less than helpful. At the moment, I still have them but people always pull out in front of me on the motorway, expecting me to be a slow, nervous driver when I'm not now, so I think it will soon be time to remove them.

Drive everywhere as soon as you can. My first trip was the 2 hour drive home from picking up my car and I used the motorway within the first week. In fact, I use the motorway every day on my commute and it's made me so much more confident. Driving on your own for the first time is going to be scary anyway, so you might as well use that time to get used to a huge range of road conditions and get it over with. Case in point: I was recently driving on 60mph winding roads with sheer cliff faces and it didn't phase me. Parallel parking outside my house is enough to bring me to tears because I never do it. The more you avoid something, the scarier it will get. 

Speaking of motorways, they're really not that scary. When I drove on a motorway for the first time, I was terrified because of their reputation. But it's a straight road, with no sharp turns, no junctions and no roundabouts. You have no cyclists or pedestrians to worry about and, unless there's traffic, you don't need to stop and start. The best bit: If you're going too slowly, people can just overtake you, so you don't need to worry about holding anyone up. My biggest tip is to find a nice, slow lorry and stick behind it in the left-hand lane for the whole journey. Just be sure to give it plenty of room! 

Don't rely on satnav. On my first trip to work, my satnav sent me down a horrible 60mph road which had hills, sharp bends and was a prime cycle route. I nearly cried (This may explain why I love motorways so much) When I got home, I looked up alternative routes and found a lovely, easy motorway journey. Admittedly, it's a longer, slower route but it's much less stressful. With this in mind, I travelled to Manchester with directions written on a Post It note stuck to my steering wheel and, not only was I guaranteed an easy journey as I'd already checked it out, but I got a huge sense of pride in travelling all the way without relying on technology. 

If you crash, don't panic. I may be speaking from experience. OK, I'm definitely speaking from experience. 2 days after picking up my car, I went to visit a friend and a man pulled out in front of me at a roundabout, despite the fact I was indicating clearly, and I smashed into the side of him. A very lovely lady who was driving behind the man stopped and helped me, and reassured me that I had done everything correctly. It was just one of those things where I was in the wrong place at the wrong time- He was returning home from church as he does every week, and nobody ever turns right at that roundabout so he didn't even think to look. Unfortunately for both of us, this day somebody was turning right. Everybody was fine but I was so upset about having spent hundreds on a car, only to have it ruined a couple of days later. Since it was his fault, his insurance is covering the cost of fixing my car and I was provided with a fantastic courtesy car (which, if I'm honest, I don't want to give back!) Apparently the average person crashes once every 17 years so at least I got it out of the way in my first week! 

Make the most of it! In my first month of driving, I've been to Brighton, Manchester and Liverpool. I can't even tell you how much I have saved using petrol instead of train fares. Then there's the fact that I can travel whenever I like, which may have included 1am donut runs. Once you can drive, you have the freedom to do whatever you like, so take full advantage of that! 

Also, you can travel anywhere you like without a bra.

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  1. I LOVE driving! It's so fun! There are some bits that REALLY annoy me: people who do less than 60mph on a motorway, middle lane drivers, people who 'flash' at me to come out of a junction etc etc. but I've been driving 4 years now. (I never used P plates, a lot of my driving friends told me they drive like dicks when they're near someone with P plates - idiots). Some tricky junctions do still get me nervous but anything else is fine.
    I crashed on the M6 a couple of years ago (I was stranded on the central reservation) and it set me back quite a lot. When I got my car back I was straight on the motorway driving again and now I drive 100miles almost every weekend.
    My tips for someone taking a test is just don't panic. I did and I failed my first test. I ended up not taking it again for 3 years and had to relearn everything and retake my theory test! When I took it again aged 21 I was much calmer as I felt more mature and I think maybe I just wasn't ready to drive at 18.

  2. I passed my test eight years ago now & even though I feel pretty confident driving I'm the worst for getting freaked out as soon as I have to drive somewhere new. I've recently moved to a city & it really shakes me up driving through the centre. I totally agree with driving as much as possible after you've passed & I'm a firm believer in that you learn to drive after you've passed your test.

  3. I failed my first test because I crashed into a roundabout! I had a bit of an inkling it was a fail especially when he asked if we could pull over to check the car was ok! Nightmare! Got there in the end though! Great post, love your motorway advice!
    Kirsty x

  4. I miss driving! I've actually never driven on a motorway though, despite driving on a daily basis for almost 2 years when I lived at home - seriously, Norfolk roads are the worst!

    Also, it took me four - so you've beaten me there!!

  5. Loved reading this! I have ridiculous fears about driving on the motorway, I think it's great advice to do it as soon as you can because I didn't and now I've left it too long and only go on it if someone is in the car with me! I don't know why but I just feel more comfortable on the motorway if someone's in the car and I know I need to pluck up the courage to do it alone! I love driving otherwise! I think with me it's the fear of not knowing my route fully and having to rely on reading signs/directions. I like to know my route fully before I go anywhere and I wish I had more confidence to just follow directions or even use a sat nav to go somewhere I don't know! Anna xx

  6. I've had a license for six years, but I still can't drive a car with a manual transmission (most cars in the US are automatic). Unfortunately in Germany, most cars are manual. :-( If you ever want to do a second post on driving, I'd love specific tips for switching gears and all that nonsense!

  7. It took me three tests as well, but I've been driving for 7 years come October and it's the best thing I ever learnt to do :)

  8. I hate driving but I have to learn and will be taking the test in September :( Thanks for these tips! When you say 'observations', do you mean 'looking at the right place at the right time'? I'm learning with my dad as we can't afford an official instructor so we're not super familiar with all the lingo, haha.

    1. Yep, that's exactly it! I failed because I didn't look left as I pulled out of my space and didn't notice a car there. Luckily he saw me and stopped because I had no idea he was there!

  9. Love this :) I'm just in the process of learning now; I've stopped and started over the years but really want that freedom now. This has been helpful, thanks!
    Life inside the Locket

  10. I'm just about to start lessons, and I can't wait to be able to drive, but I'm also very nervous hahah! This was a really helpful post to read! Glad to hear you're really enjoying the freedom!

  11. I passed 2 years ago this October and it's the best thing I've ever done. I luckily passed first time but my theory didn't go so smoothly! I have too crashed my car - the way it happened was so embarrassing!! And motorways scare me to death! I'm petrified of them and there isn't really one located near me so I don't need to use them.

    Tasha xx //

    1. Well now you have to tell us how you crashed! I promise I won't laugh!

    2. It wasn't really my fault more so the car, but everyone says that don't they! I was in a car park and my steering went out of whack so I couldn't control the car and bam went straight into a pillar!! *insert laugh/crying emoji* you have to laugh about it now!

  12. I almost crashed on my first driving test. I came off a roundabout too fast and would have plowed into the back of a parked car if the examiner hadn't slammed on the dual control brakes. Still, at least by that point it didn't matter that when I re-started the car I went straight through a red light...

    I've had better tests since, but have failed all 10 of them, the last one the day before my 30th birthday (passing my driving test was on my "30 before 30" list so I figured the date was fate... it wasn't). I think it's just not to be!

    Lis / last year's girl x

  13. This was actually really helpful as I'm low key terrified of learning to drive. Most people I've talked to don't understand that so it was great to read these tips :) Thank you Becky!
    Maeve // Thrift O'Clock

  14. Aaah, I'm so nervous for friday but I am going in with the mindset it does take a few goes and there is no shame in it! I also think it'll be good to see how the test runs so next time I won't be as scared! I already drive a bike ( which is a good and bad thing for car driving) so I have learnt how to get myself around just from what's on the floor or memorising maps! :) I can't wait to drive! Didn't you get a mint green fiat like I want? Can you do a review?! :) x

  15. I really appreciate this post. I only had my second driving lesson on the weekend and I crashed into a pole. Luckily it wasn't a metal pole or anything and I'm not the only person to crash around that corner (so many accidents have happened there) but it still shook me up.

    Erin | <a href="'>Being Erin</a>


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