††††††††††† TIPS FOR LEARNERS.
So you think it is time you had a go at learning to drive. Whether you are seventeen or seventy it is not easy; but it can still be very enjoyable, interesting and rewarding when you achieve your goal of passing the test. I think we realise that the younger we are the less lessons will be required.† Whilst this is a generalisation, over the years it has proved to be the case.
When you have decided to have a go, donít be thinking 'I`ll pass the test in about 10 hours'. It is not impossible, but is very unlikely to be the case, unless you are getting plenty of practice in between your lessons.†
How do you decide which instructor to choose?† If you are new to the area, it may have to be the Yellow Pages or the local Press.† The best starting point will be recommendation from a friend.††
Even if you take the one recommended by your friend, he may not turn out to be the right one for you.† Donít be afraid to change to another instructor. Keep assessing the situation, take a look at yourself, and ask† 'am I expecting too much too quickly?† If you have had 50 plus hours and you feel that you arenít moving on very much, once again think of having a change of instructor. This is not necessarily anyoneís fault; the instructor may feel the same way as you do, and a new one may bring back the spark that had started to wane.
There are many parents or friends out there who could save you a considerable amount of money on tuition fees, by going out with you and practising your driving in between lessons.† Many parents have a lot of knowledge about driving and the ability to pass it on.† We hear it said many times that you shouldn't go out practising with your parents; I know it can sometimes end in a bitter row!† There is no doubt this will happen from time to time because you are not always compatible but in many instances this doesn't have to be the case.† Get your act together, respect each other and it may work out well for you both, you may even enjoy it and remember it can mean a great saving at the end of it.
The next couple of paragraphs are very important to any one thinking of learning to drive.
In the very early stages of learning to drive, getting control of the clutch is the thing that will give you a vast amount of confidence in controlling the car.† This can be done in different ways.† The hill-start is a good way to learn about clutch control.† Set your revs; lift your clutch up to biting point, that is when the revs die down very slightly, keep your feet still and release the hand brake very slowly.† If the car remains still that is excellent, if the car starts to roll back lift your clutch very slightly, we are probably talking of a quarter of an inch at the most: if you do this correctly the car will hold still again.† All you are doing is moving your left foot on the clutch very slightly, keeping your right foot steady on the accelerator.† Apart from being very gentle and smooth with your left foot, another very important point is the release of the hand brake.† If you release the hand brake quickly the car will probably move backwards or forwards quickly and this will most likely make you panic; and you won't have had time to take the proper observations before moving off.†† Remember, release the hand brake, very slowly, give yourself time to react to the situation and then do everything gently and smoothly.
Another way to learn clutch control in the early stages is as soon as the car starts to move when you are setting off, hold your clutch still.† Now you have got the car moving very slowly forwards, press your accelerator gently to increase the engine revs.† If the clutch is at biting point the car will not increase speed, and it doesn't matter how hard you press the accelerator.† This shows you how much control the clutch has over the car when used correctly at very low speeds.†† As stated earlier, this is called slipping the clutch and must not be confused with 'coasting'.
When you master this technique it will give you a lot of confidence in controlling the car when setting off and manoeuvring.††
It can be false economy taking your test too early.† Thereís the cost of another test; also if you are nowhere near ready for it, the experience can be quite shattering and put you off for a long time and in some cases years.† Do not be pressured into taking the test too soon, either by your instructor or your lack of funds.
The following scenario will act as a measure of if you are ready to take the test: -
Imagine you are having a driving lesson and you are at the other side of town to where you live.† Your instructor asks you 'if he got out of the car would you feel comfortable driving back home on your own'.† Would you crumple into a heap on the floor of the car, or think yes, I could do that.† Be honest with yourself; if your answer is yes, then go for it, otherwise you require more practice. You will have a good idea when you are ready for the test. You will feel reasonably comfortable with the controls, with driving in heavy traffic and be consistent with your manoeuvres. At this stage, go for it!†† Even if you are unsuccessful you will have had the experience of being sat next to someone other than your instructor, and going through the test procedure. This can then be an invaluable experience for when you are ready to take another test.
If you are one of those people who pass first time then great! A whole new world can open up for you, with a newfound freedom and the open road beckoning. However if you do fail your test the likelihood could well be that you have failed on one, or more, of the common areas I have detailed in The Driving Test Section. It would also be worth your while to digest the section Tips For Non-Learners as this will hopefully keep you right before slipping into any bad habits.
To summarise: -
Work hard at getting clutch control as soon as possible to give you confidence.
Persevere with your instructor, but don't be afraid to change. It could be good for both of you.
Try to practise with your parents or friends between lessons if you are compatible.
Don't take the test too soon.