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Learning to Drive

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Driving lessons, licenses, medical conditions, driving tests: practical and written, assessment centres, finance, insurance and more...

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      12.01.2009 20:44
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      My top tips.

      I learned to drive almost three years ago now, and I definitely don't regret it. Here are my top tips for learning to drive, and how to survive driving lessons! So you've got your provisional license sorted, lets go for the rest!

      1. Save up first.
      I'd suggest saving up for your first 10 driving lessons in advance. Driving lessons vary in price hugely from £18-£25 per hour, it's worth doing some comparisons of prices before you start. It's a costly venture so it's handy to have some money put by specifically before you even begin.

      2. Find an instructor.
      A good way to do this is ask around, friends and relatives will all know somebody who knows somebody who learned to drive. Word of mouth is the best way to find out whether an instructor or driving school is good so ask around.

      3. Book some lessons.
      Your first lesson will always be a bit scary and it'll be a while until you get the hang of driving. Don't be put off if you have a bad first few lessons. Perseverance is the key. Be wary of booking lots of lessons in advance, as you may not need them. They say you need an average of fifty hours of lessons, however I only had twenty four, but this is dependent upon whether you have a family member who can take you driving too.

      4. Practice!
      If you have a family member with the patience of a saint then ask them to take you out driving to practice! However, if you don't have anybody that's patient and a good teacher, stick to your instructor or you'll have conflicting advice and it'll end up taking you longer, or may even put you off driving for good.

      5. Book your test for early in the morning.
      I took my test at 9.10 and this was the perfect time. Not only do you miss the morning rush hour, but the roads are pretty quiet and settled giving you plenty of time to concentrate. Yes, you'll have to get up extra early for the lesson beforehand, but it is worthwhile taking an earlier test as it gives you less time to panic.

      Those are my tips for learning to drive, there's probably much more advice that can be found however from people who have learned to drive recently, especially price-wise etc, so look around!

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        30.12.2008 16:25
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        invaluable when you pass, wonder how you ever lived without it!!

        Learning to drive, something my parents said if I didn't do it now I probably never would until it was too late and I had so many other things to pay for, and they were right even a year later I can't imagine trying to pay for lessons with everything else I have to pay for..!
        It seems now regardless of the fact our cars apparently produce high emissions and we are all destroying the environment trying to get to work in the morning.. We all have at least one reason for having one.. Mine being most people I know including my boyfriend live miles away from my house and down a dirt track.. Sounds selfish I know to just have a car to see my other half but hey I don't really care..
        Regardless of reasons for owning a car, we have them, we pay road tax, insurance, MOT, services and fuel.. Well most of us anyway..!


        Anyway rambling over.. (Saving that for another review!)


        ~~ Essentials to learn to drive.. ~~

        You must be 17
        Hold a provisional drivers license
        There are a few medical details that you need to have understood and confirmed/declined but once applied you are on your way to being on the road..

        Provisional drivers licenses can be applied for up to two months before your 17th birthday however you cannot drive legally in an accompanied or unaccompanied car until you are 17..

        Your provisional driving license is now £50.00, when I got mine it was £42/£43 I can't actually remember, but I know the price has gone up significantly since, considering I applied for mine less than two years ago..


        ~~ Learning to drive in general ~~

        Picking a driving instructor is one of the most important things you need to do to aid your learning, without a decent one of these you will struggle to get past the mere basics of driving, look out for driving schools with the quality certifications on the box on top and on the side an ADI instructor is one of the best.. Many people suggest going with a big company to learn to drive, sure they are a nice idea as they replace their cars very frequently, however on the down side imagine if they changed the car the day before your driving test?

        I was lucky in the fact the instructor I picked was probably the best one out there in our town, really friendly guy who explained things slowly and calmly, never lost his temper just laughed anything off, not to say he wasn't a good teacher, he just never made things difficult.. I began learning on the 2nd of August 2007, and without being rushed and picking up everything along the way it wasn't too long before I started doing my manoeuvres, I spent a couple of lessons on each and then combined them all.. I remember one lesson I spent just doing all the manoeuvres one after the other until they were perfect..

        Never did I once worry or panic about a lesson.. Nick was probably the nicest bloke I could have asked for to teach me.. After booking my theory test and passing first time in February of this year we began to concentrate even harder on test routes and ironing out the little faults..

        I went with a driving instructor no many people had considered and found out that I was lucky enough to have picked the best one for me, with an exceptionally nice car too.. A VW Golf, 2.0 litre TDI 4motion sport.. Expensive and a bit of a show off for a learners car.. I wasn't complaining!!!


        ~~ The dreaded test ~~

        For those of you who are friends with me on Ciao you probably know about the hellish time with my driving tests.. First one I took I failed, however after the repuation and behaviour of the examiner I hardly expected to pass.. Many people told me it must have been my driving that made him behave in the way he did.. However I beg to differ as 15 days later without a lesson between tests I passed.. So I think there was nothing wrong with my driving that day other than the nerves, and the repuation and behaviour of the examiner..


        ~~ Price!!! ~~

        Okay so learning to drive isn't exactly cheap I think I spent a good £800 learning but it is invaluable now I have it an touch wood I am nt going to loose it any time soon as it took me long enough to get here I don't want to be without now..

        I'm not sure about the average price of lessons anymore as I passed 8 months ago but my lessons were £20 each, which you can imagine mounted up with tests and theory books and dvds etc..


        However as expensive as it might be t is such a useful thing to have as a young person being able to get around on their own steam it relieves your parents and means you can do what you like - to a degree anyway..!!
        To an older person think about the long distances than can be shared and the school run you wouldn't have to walk in the winter..

        It is something everyone should at least try because it also strangely enough looks good to potential employers because it means you can move from office to office with transport.. Maybe even to a better job.. (Don't hold me to that its just something I have noticed!!)

        Anyone considering learning?
        Try it!
        You won't regret it!

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          23.12.2008 20:09
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          Well worth it

          Learning to drive has been one of the best things and the most stressful things I've ever done in my life but I'm so pleased I have that freedom now.

          In the UK you have to be 17 to obtain a provisional licence. I believe you can send off two months before your 17th birthday in order to receive it in time. The next step is finding an appropriate driving instructor or school; this is where I went wrong.

          I had my first lesson on my 17th birthday with a private instructor, I chose him after seeing him driving about. Why I chose him? The brand new Mini... my dream car.

          The advice I should have taken is to find a recommended instructor, the one all your friends have had or people from college/work rave about.


          On your first lesson the instructor should ask to see your provisional licence, both parts.
          I started off ok, managed to pick it up quickly with the minimal stalling but didn't seem to be getting anywhere (no pun intended). All the lessons where the same, mooching about with no real teaching and then 5 months later my theory hadn't even been booked so I booked it myself. My mum went mad saying what are we paying this man for, but he did lend me some PC games and books based on the questions. When I took my theory it was the old style one with 35 questions and a hazard perception test.

          I passed first time luckily. Four months later I enquired whether Mark thought I should book a test. He said not really but I'd been driving for 9 months now and people who had started learning after me passed months ago so I asked again and he said book it if you want. So I did. 8th September 2006. I failed and was absolutely gutted. I cried all the way home.

          The examiner was lovely but couldn't pass me when I'd hit the kerb reversing round it, one of the four manoeuvres you are expected to be able to do. May I add the instructor only tried teaching me the manoeuvre a week and a half before my test. I also got a minor for not knowing a question I was asked about the car. At the start of the test you will be asked two questions about the maintenance of the car including knowing how to check the tread, the oil and water. If you get these wrong you will incur a minor.

          That was it, I was furious with myself and Mark's poor teaching so I went with the instructor who taught my brother. We agreed we'd book a test for a month's time and I passed with only one minor. You can have up to 16 before you fail.

          My tips for learning to drive are find a good, friendly instructor you feel confident with.
          Concentrate as much as you can, don't go out drinking or having late nights before an early lesson.
          Lastly concentrate on your own driving not how other people are progressing. Good luck.

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            15.03.2007 10:49
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            not for everyone

            These reviews are always written in the possative, by people who have passed, well this one isn't.

            I cant believe im about to admit this, in a few minuets, when you have finished reading this you will all think im an idiot, and you might be right.

            Two years ago when I was 23 I decided it was time to learn to drive. I was sick of bus and bikes and my kids missing out on going places because I couldn't take them. I had some spare income and thought this was the time to do it.
            My friend had recently passed her test and recommended her instructor, it was a female and she was local so I thought id give her ago.
            I rang her up and we spoke about driving and why I wanted to do it, she seemed nice so I booked a lesson.

            Jane charged £18 an hour and drove a duel controlled Renault Cleo.

            My first time was petrifying. I was so nervous but Jane put me at ease. She took me to a quiet street and sat me in the driver's seat showing me what all the buttons do and how to hold the steering wheel. We turned the engine on and off and practised moving a few feet and how to stop and start the car and that was about all we did for the first lesson, which was great because it got me used to the car and been in the driving seat which was wired. I was so used to being in the passenger seat I had never been in the driver's seat so it did take a bit of getting used too.

            My second lesson I began to drive more, just up and down quiet streets in order to get a bit of confidence. This didn't work, I had no confidence, I hated driving but hoped it would get better I thought every one feels the same when they begin to drive.
            I sat and passed my theory test after about six months.
            I had one lesson a week for over a year and my driving got ok but my manoeuvres were terrible and I still had no confidence. I still hated driving.
            Every time I reversed around the corner I would hit it, every time I reversed into a bay parking spot I was over the line, the only thing I could do perfectly was a turn in the road, I had perfect clutch control, observation skills and speed when I did this one but the others where awful.
            While driving I would panic if I saw a roundabout coming towards me, I wouldn't know which lane to use, my road discipline would go out the window and I would forget where I needed to be, I really freaked out. If I had to get into gear 5 I would worry about driving to fast and for some bizarre reason I got this awful habit of looking at the gear stick when I needed to change gear which meant I wasn't looking at the road and sometimes would sway a little and go over the white line.
            You can imagine what a night mare this was; I gave my instructor some grey hairs. But she was not entirely blameless. Jane would tell me that I I wasn't a very good driver and ask me what my star sign was telling me it was to do with the way the stars were lined and other such nonsense. She gave me no confidence and it got to a pint were I was dreading each lesson. I did get on with her and had a laugh wither sometimes but as a driving instructor she was next to useless, she gave me no instruction, but I didn't want to change because she knew me and I was embarrassed to go with another instructor and tell them I had been driving a year and I was still so rubbish.
            After about 16 months I sat a test. I was a nervous wreck.
            It went ok. I answered two questions before I got in the car about the tyres I think, and I got them both right. The lesson went ok, I did a turn in the road and reversed around the corner with out hitting the curb, however I did one huge thing wrong which is why I failed. I was doing 28mph in a 30mph zone. I thought it was a 30 and thought I was under. There were speed bumps and it was out side a school so I should have known but I just didn't realise.
            Although I failed I was quite pleased that I only failed on one thing. I expect to fail on loads.
            By now things in my life had changed since I had first began my lesson's, I had my house up for sale and was working more so I had more money so I was taking two lessons some weeks, but with the house and job I had more on my mind and I wasn't concentrating on driving properly.
            I rebooked another test but it was 8 weeks away.
            I had about 12 more lessons and they went from bad to worse, I mounted the curb, stalled, forgot things and basically did everything wrong.
            During this time things in my life were also going from bad to worse. I had sold my house and bought one that cost tree times as much since work was going well but then I got made redundant and the very next day so did my husband. We were unemployed, with a huge mortgage to pay, obviously we had a lot on our minds.

            Then came test two.
            As you can imagine this was horrendous!
            I can't list everything that went wrong; it was just one hour full of disasters. Needless to say I failed 9 minors 1 serious (hit the curb on my reverse round the corner) my instructor said it was because I was stressed and my moon was in some cosmic phase. I said Id ring her to arrange another lesson.
            This was 1 year ago, I have not been in the driving seat since.

            My who driving experience was a disaster?
            I hated it.
            Maybe I was too old; I should have done it at 17. Maybe I had a lot going on in my own life and I was too stressed to think about it or maybe my instructor was rubbish whatever the reason I just couldn't do it.


            The only reason I share this awful, butt clenching, cringe worthy experience is to let people know that driving is not as easy as you would imagine. Every one thinks after a year of lessons they can pass their test. Well it's not that easy for everyone.
            I know I sound like a idiot, I know that there are 13 year olds tat steal cars and drive them away, I know that old ladys and small children would pick it up quicker then me and it really tears me up inside. I hate that I can't drive. But that don't change the fact that I can't.

            I don't expect to get any very helpful's or any exceptional's for this review I know its not fantastically written or full of every last detail but it is honest. I know it will make me look bad but if it helps anyone thinking of learning to drive then its worth it. I dont want to put people off i just want people to have a understanding of what it is like.

            i hope this helps any one thinking of learning.

            warning:leaning to drive may cause you to be stressed, skint, and insane!!

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              09.05.2005 15:19
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              Passing your driving test gives you imense freedom especially if your 17 and live in the middle of nowhere! even if that is not the case it will still bring you so much freedom. to be able go places by yourself, and not have to rely on others or public transport as which we know is not always as reliable as it should be!
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              MY STORY:
              I started of my driving lessons at the beginning of June after my 17th birthday. I was really eager to get them over and done with as soon as possible because i really wanted to be able to drive by the time i went back to college. I decided to use the same driving instructor that my sister had used. i started off doing two hour slots, 3 times a week. i then increased it to 3 hours each slot- although it was very tiring i was determined to get as many done as possible. i didnt have a car at the time so i couldnt practice outside of my lessons- so this meant i had to have even more hours of lessons. After 40 hours of lessons i thought i would never be ready for my test. i had done two practice tests and failed both of them by miles!!! this didn't exactly boost my confidence! But we booked it for a month in advance on the 21st august. and after alot more lessons i was finally ready for my test.
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              THE DAY OF THE TEST!!!!
              I am quite a nervous person and was worried that my nerves would take the better of me. however i thought to myself i really want to do this- and thougth positive thoughts which actually made me calm down a bit. I had an hour lesson before my test- it went dreadfully- my positive thinking went away and i was suddenly thinking there was no hope of me passing! i drove into the test centre and parked. I then went into the test centre where i had to wait 5 minutes which seemed ages! then the examiner came out, i signed the forms and off we went. I tried to stay calm and drove out of the test centre and did everything the instructor said. Then a problem arose- he asked me to reverse round a corner which i attempted to do- but messed it up and started to panick! but he was very nice and let me drive to the next corner and do it again- which luckily i managed to do it perfectly! however i still felt i had failed. after about 30 mins we started driving back to the tet centre which was fine. But once we were back it was time for the bay park! and yes once again i messed it up! i reversed and was half way across two bays then went forward then reversed!!! and once again i started to panick!! and said o the examiner ' oh god ive really failed now haven't i!' he just told me to keep calm and finish of the manouvere which i eventually managed to do!!
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              THE RESULTS!!!
              I was convinced that i had failed-i felt really angry with myself for messing up the manouveres after doing them perfectly in my lessons. But then he said 'well emily i'm pleased to tell you that you have passed' i couldn't believe it, i was completely shocked and even asked him if he was joking. I looked at the test form and saw that i had i had only got 3 minors in the whole test!! it was the happiest day ever! i could now drive on my own- my life would now change so much!
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              AFTER PASSING MY TEST!
              I have now become so much more confident with my driving and i'm still shocked that i passed- it really has given me so much more freedom- my life definitley has changed.
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              MY ADVICE TO YOU:
              O keep calm in your test, try not to let your nerves make the better of you.
              O You have to think positive- this will also help your nerves sty down. Think 'i can do this'
              O do your best but don't try too hard at it beacuse this may well make it worse for you.
              O be very polite to the examiner by talking to them and being very smiley-acting as if you are not as nervous as you feel.
              O If you mess something up don't less this ruin the rest of your test as you might have just got a minor for the bit you messed up- you never know!
              O even if you don't pass first time- don't let this get you down too much just think of it as a practice.
              O one thing you musn't do is act too confident as this could fail you straight away- if you go to the test looking like and acting like a boy or girl racer then you have a much higher chance of failing!

              and just remember you must think positive!!!

              and finally good luck! just do your best and follow my advice!!

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