Learning to drive

learning to drive a car

I always imagined driving would be easy. What else was there to do other than applying the brakes, gears and steering the wheel? I would often think thought to myself. I had always been extremely proficient at driving related games, so I decided to give driving classes a shot during my summer break.

After a lot of consultation and advice from my peers, I joined a driving center near my house. Several people asked me why I wasted money on joining a center when I could have asked my parents or friends to help me, free of cost. I can safely say that I can answer this question adequately now.

Firstly, when you join a driving center, you have to follow a strict routine and set timings. I had to wake up at 7 each morning and knew if I did not do so, I would miss the lesson since the instructor was very clear that he would not compensate for a missed day or for tardiness. Had my father been teaching me, I would probably have convinced him to miss on a few days.

Secondly, since there was no frankness between my instructor and me, I was required to adopt a highly professional manner with him, and subsequently, he did not hesitate to bluntly point out every time I made a mistake. A friend or a father, on the other hand, would probably be hesitant to point out minute flaws, simply for the sake of not hurting my self-confidence.

From the driving center, the driver would drive us in a specialized car to an isolated place where I would be given the control of the car. The car was special because it had two sets of brakes, one for my use and one for the driver. This gave the driver control to stop the car anytime he felt I was over-speeding or making another error. The particular car that I was allotted was also very safe because it had a maximum speed limit of 60 miles per hour, so even if an accident occurred, there would be minimal damages.

The place we used for driving was perfect for beginners. The whole place was specially designed for such lessons and the arena had nothing but a few tyres, which were systematically placed there so that one could learn to move the car between them, as people do in real life traffic situations.

When I went for my driver’s test, it took me about 45 hours to complete my course. I realized this would cost far too much, hence I carried out some steps to help reduce costs:

1 – Finding the best instructor

Choose an instructor after consulting your friends, family and experienced people who have used the instructor. I asked around at various shops near the driving center before registering and also inquired regarding the best instructor at the driving center. The decision of choosing an instructor should not be based only on the prices though. Although it is imperative to ask your instructor whether he intends to raise the prices in the future, the ultimate decision of choosing an instructor should depend on safety. You should always go with an instructor you feel most safe with.

Steve Calvert, an Oxford University instructor, has laid the benchmark from which you can check whether or not the driving lessons are effective. According to Steve, you should be able to drive in a busy part of town after 10 hours of training and should be able to pass the driving license test after 25 hours of training. Personally, it took me only 8 hours to be fully in control of the car and to handle it in the busier parts of the street. It is also always a good idea to choose an instructor who has trained someone you know because it is important that the instructor matches your temperament. For instance, if you were a quick learner then you would prefer someone quick, who can teach you the basics in no time, and can match your quick pace. On the other hand, if you were slow at catching up on things, you would probably want someone who is extremely patient.

2 – Say NO to any kind of detours

Steve Calverts insists that it is wrong when the instructor wishes to pick up the next pupil whilst your lesson is still going on. It is common practice for instructors to ask you to pick up the next pupil from his house while you are driving back to your house. This may seem harmless but over time the costs add up and so you must always say no these kind of detours. During my lessons, my instructor never asked me to pick up the next pupil and I comfortably completed my driving lessons each day. To obtain discounts and free driving lessons, you can recommend your instructor to other people and friends. In fact, my driving center had a policy of giving away three free lessons if you were successful in landing the company a new client for training.

3 – How long is each lesson?

Each driving lesson is traditionally an hour long. In my experience, however, I found it extremely effective to have sessions that lasted at least a couple of hours. When the lesson is an hour long, it passes by really quickly and does not allow you to get the full feel of driving. In 2-hour sessions, you learn a lot more and you also need to put more effort to stay focused and to fight tiredness, which are both very helpful aspects in real-life driving. You can also, however, try longer lessons. Some people that came to my driving center took 4 to 6 hour sessions and were done with learning how to drive before me.

4 – Taking it slow?

You should decide whether or not you want to try out an intensive course. You can spread the lessons over three weeks (like I did) or put in extra long hours and get done in one week.

Normally, people prefer to spread out the lessons over a few weeks since this gives them more time to adjust to the driving and more time to practice. I also found it useful to learn driving in three weeks since I had to concentrate on lesser things each day and had ample time to practice and be satisfied.

5 – Do not waste money on books

There is absolutely no need to waste time and money on any kind of driving books. Contrary to popular belief, driving books are not at all effective. But if you must purchase a book, you should first carefully surf the Internet for the best books available and try to get your hands on second hand books. What would be more effective is downloading PDF formats of the books from the Internet for free!

Several people that came to my driving center used online help. A lot of them signed up for free online courses, took help from YouTube tutorials, and sifted through other driving blog posts.

6 – Don’t be shy to take help from your peers

It helps a great deal if you can afford to practice with your peers, family, or friends. Driving with them can boost your confidence, as well as give you the necessary guidance you would need in regard to any mistakes you make. You must make sure, however, that the person you are driving with is an experienced driver and has a license. I took my father’s help every night and it turned out to be extremely effective as he was able to point out a lot of my mistakes and give me various tips. A lot of my friends took help from each other to perfect their skills and according to them, it is imperative to complement driving lessons with guidance from your peers if one wants to properly master driving.

7 – The final hurdle: taking the driving test

You must only take the driving test when you feel fully ready, prepared and confident. The driving tests are normally cheaper on weekdays so you should try to get one on a weekday. There are also special days when discounts are available, which makes these tests a lot cheaper. Finally, never rush to take the test. I myself delayed the test for over a week because I wasn’t feeling confident enough. Remember: it is better to postpone the test than to fail altogether.

I’m still a beginner, I admit; I don’t know about you; but I feel no matter how well we drive, it’s always good to discover more summer driving tips. Especially considering the opportunities we have while driving not only on our roads but also while we travel to other countries as well. Anyway, Drive Safely!

driving in europe infographic

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