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How do driving lessons work?

Driving lessons can be incredibly daunting, whether you’re a 17-year-old nervously sitting behind the wheel for the first time or an older adult wanting to get behind the wheel. But what can you expect as you embark on your first set of lessons and what should you be prepared for in the coming months?

What are the steps to driving a car for the first time?

Whether your first time in the driver’s seat is with your instructor or with a family member in the trusty old family car, the steps to getting ready to drive are the same. The first thing you want to do is get yourself comfortable. Don’t worry if you’re going to be changing someone’s preferred settings. You’re the one driving, you need to be sure you can see out of all of the mirrors and the seat is at the right height for you, and if you’re more comfortable you’re more likely to relax than if you’re sitting in an awkward position.

Familiarise yourself with the controls and everything around you. If you’re driving a manual car, remember CBA – Clutch, Brake, Accelerator – as this is the order that these pedals will always be in. The brake and accelerator are pretty self explanatory, the brake slows you down and the accelerator increases the revs in the engine and makes you go faster. The clutch, meanwhile, is the pedal that can often cause people anxiety, but once you’ve got your head around how it works, it’s incredibly simple. Let us talk you through the process:

  • First things first, make sure your seatbelt is on. 
  • Insert the key in the ignition and turn all the way around until the engine starts
  • Depress the clutch pedal all the way to the floor with your left foot.
  • With the clutch still pressed, move the gear stick into first gear
  • Using your right foot, gently apply some pressure to the accelerator to increase the engine revs lightly.
  • Keeping the engine revs constant, slowly lift the clutch pedal until you feel a gentle vibration, known as the car’s ‘biting point’ which is where the clutch plates come together.
  • Remove the handbrake and the car should begin to move.
  • Continue to increase the revs with your right foot as you raise your left foot off the clutch until the car is moving solely through the use of the accelerator

It’s highly likely that you will stall the first time you attempt to drive – this is where you lift your foot too quickly off the clutch or don’t give the car enough revs to move away, resulting in the engine cutting out and the dashboard glowing red. Do not panic, simply apply the brakes, turn the engine off, set the gear stick back to neutral and start over again.

What do you do on your first driving lesson?

Whether you’ve had any practices at home or not, it is unlikely that your instructor will expect you to drive straight away. Instead they will likely find a quiet road where they will be able to teach you all the basics you’ll need to know about controlling the car, such as gears, pedals and the ‘cockpit drill’. The cockpit drill is a set of checks to make before you start driving, which consists of checking all doors are closed, your seat is set to a comfortable position where you have a clear view of the road and the headrest is set at an appropriate height to avoid whiplash in an accident, ensuring you and passengers are belted in and that your mirrors are positioned in a way to minimise any blind spots.

What does the driving instructor do?

You can expect your instructor to check your provisional licence on your first lesson just to be certain that you are legally allowed to be behind the wheel of a car – make sure you remember to bring it as you won’t be allowed to drive without it.

If where you live isn’t an appropriate place to begin driving from, they will most likely ask you to sit in the passenger seat before taking you to a more suitable location, such as a quiet road or industrial estate.

Will I drive straight away in my first lesson?

It is unlikely that your instructor will let you take the wheel as stage one of your lesson. Instead they will give you a rundown of how the car works and where to find all of the relevant controls. They will also talk you through the cockpit drill before you will be given the controls for the first time.

It is likely that the first driving you will experience will take place on either a quiet road or industrial estate – your instructor isn’t going to throw you into the deep end and have you driving down the A3. Once in a suitable location you will learn how to set off, clutch control, checking mirrors, signalling with the indicators, changing gear, stopping the car and curb-side parking. If this all sounds a bit daunting, just remember that the instructor has his own clutch and brake so can step in at any stage.

How many lessons does it take to learn to drive?

There is no set number of lessons that need to take place before you are able to pass your test, with each learner taking their own time to get to the point where they are able, and more importantly confident enough, to pass their test. On average most learners will take 40 hours of professional lessons, plus 22 hours of practice away from their instructor, to pass their test. With most lessons taking between 60-90 minutes, you can expect to take somewhere in the region 25-30 before you’re able to pass your test.

What do driving lessons cover?

Your instructor’s job is to make sure that you are able to pass your test and go on to become a safe driver when out on your own. As a result your lessons will cover a wide range of situations when behind the wheel. Starting with the basics of driving legally and safely, you can also expect to learn a number of manoeuvres including reversing in a straight line and round corners, turning the car around, parking and the all important emergency stop.

You will also be introduced to a number of road types, from country roads to city driving and dual carriageways, as well as a range of road conditions, so expect a couple of lessons later in the day to get driving into darkness, and don’t think you’ll be rescheduling a lesson because it’s raining either, as it’s all good training for you.

What happens if I make a mistake in my driving lessons?

Everyone learning to drive is human, and it is human nature to make mistakes, so you won’t be expected to be perfect each time. If you’re having professional lessons then the instructor will be able to stop the vehicle on your behalf in emergencies, and can point out any mistakes you may have made, helping you to improve and learn from them.

How long is each driving lesson?

Depending on your instructor, the length of your lesson is likely to vary, although it is widely regarded among instructors that 90 minutes is the ideal length. The reason many go for 90 minutes over an hour long lesson is that the extra 30 minutes afforded allows a chance for the student to settle in and warm up – it may have been a week since they last drove – and gives more opportunities to discuss and debrief throughout the session without feeling like you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent driving. On average, you can expect somewhere around 40-45 hours worth of lessons before taking your test.

Have you just started learning to drive and are looking at getting something a little less embarrassing than the tired family hatchback for your first car? Well that’s where Scrap Car Comparison comes in. Through our knowledgeable and friendly team, as well as our nationwide network of buyers, we guarantee you’ll get the very best price going, and we’ll even come and collect it free of charge. Get started today by securing a quote from our free online generator and see just how much your car could be worth. You can also learn about how much driving lessons cost with this guide.

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