There’s often a lot of anxiety around driving lessons, particularly the first lesson. Most of us get nervous and anxious when trying something new, so this is perfectly normal. As experienced driving instructors, we meet a lot of anxious learners. Using this experience, we’ll offer some tips to all new and existing learners on how to keep driving lesson anxiety to a minimum.
Choosing and Meeting Your Driving Instructor
To help reduce first driving lesson anxiety, you may find that it help to use a driving instructor that a friend or family member recommends. It can also help to meet the instructor before lessons commence. You’ll be spending around 40 hours or so with your instructor, so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them. You can meet the instructor at a location of your choice, perhaps at your parents house.
When looking for an instructor, you can specifically search for one that states they provide lessons to very anxious and nervous individuals. If you prefer, you can opt for a female driving instructor.
Your Driving Instructor
All driving instructors must abide by the DVSA‘s Approved Driving Instructors (ADI) Code of Practice. One of the rules outlined in the Code of Practice is to treat all clients with respect and consideration and support them as efficiently and effectively as possible.
As driving instructors, we do of course meet many new drivers, most of whom are very nervous. This is something that we are used to and are experienced in helping new and even experienced drivers to remain as calm and relaxed as possible.
Part of a driving instructor’s training is to teach learners at a pace that they’re comfortable with. So no matter whether you’re a little slow to pick something up or exceptionally fast, your driving instructor will teach at a speed that wont overwhelm you.
Taking Time Out
As you progress through your lessons, you’ll drive on more challenging roads. If at any time you find driving overwhelming, tell your instructor you need a little time out. The instructor will guide you to a safe and legal place to park where you can compose yourself. You can even get out of the car for some space and fresh air if you prefer. Instructors are perfectly fine with this.
If you’re feeling anxious about road safety, you’ll be happy to know that all driving instructors have dual controls fitted to their training cars. This means that if you do make a mistake that requires the instructor to gain control of the vehicle, they can do so quickly with the use of the dual controls.
Although a driving instructor’s car is fitted with dual controls, they don’t in fact use them very often. This is because the training we undergo ensures that we explain all procedures very clearly beforehand and in the early stages of a learner’s driving lessons, we also make verbal prompts whilst the learner is carrying out a procedure.
You’ll be expected to make mistakes during all lessons, including your first driving lesson. This is normal and driving instructors are fully equipped to deal with this. Some learner drivers make more mistakes than others and some learners consistently make the same mistakes.
If you’re anxious about making mistakes, then there’s really no need to be. Remember that driving instructors have complete control of the vehicle and that they are fully prepared for any mistakes you might make.
Learning to Drive at a Comfortable Pace
The first driving lesson in essentially going to involve the instructor running through the car cockpit drill. To help reduce first driving lesson anxiety, read through the car cockpit drill just so you know what to expect. After you’ve completed the cockpit drill, you may take a short drive if there’s enough time. This will be completed in a quiet location where you’ll not need to be concerned by other road users. If you do go for a drive, it will simply be moving off and stopping a short distance up the road.
Driving instructors are experienced at assessing an individual’s ability to learn and will adapt the pace of teaching so to not overwhelm the learner. However, if you’re ever unsure of something, ask the instructor to explain again and if you feel the instructor is taking things a little too fast, don’t be afraid to ask them to slow it down a little.
Avoid Leaving too Much Time Between Lessons
If you do suffer from anxiety, leaving too much time between lessons can make matters worse because you’ll feel as though you’ve forgotten what you learnt on your last lesson. Try and take at least one two hour lesson each week, or if you feel that a two hour lesson is too long, most driving instructors offer one and a half hour lessons. Shorter lessons of only one hour are often not worth it as you get too little done.