This time last year at the ripe old age of 23 I passed my driving test first time. In this post I want to reach those that have put off driving for a while like I did and to give you some pointers on why you should do it and how you should do it. This is also for those already on the roads as there are things they don’t teach you about driving at the test centre!
Why you should do it
Driving has given me more independence than I thought I’d ever needed and has allowed me to do a lot more fun things in the short year that I’ve been on the roads. I can drive to work, get my shopping and visit friends all with ease and all because of driving. Prior to this I was relying on lifts, trams, buses and trains on a regular basis which was inconvenient for more than just myself but now I can just hop in my little brum and get going to where I want to be. Most of my friends also don’t live near me, even the ones that live in Manchester are still a 20+ minute drive away so being able to keep an easy connection with them is crucial (I mention how important this is in surviving your first year of uni).
Don’t get me wrong, driving is not necessary or affordable for everyone and you can still have your independence without it. I could have easily kept to getting buses and lifts and it not impact my life negatively, I just like the convenience and of course the solitude.
Once you get over the initial fear of motorways you’ll see yourself flying down them (within the speed limit of course…) and visiting friends and new places. This year I’ve driven to The Lake District, Rugby, Chester and Derby – all being over an hours journey away. Load up your Satnav, check your tyres, fuel up and you’re good to go! I’m keen to do more little road trips and visit more of the country.
Some roles require you to have a driving license for various reasons. This doesn’t mean you need a car as more than likely the company will hire one out for you however it does mean you could get passed up for a job or not even make it past the application stage all because you don’t have that pink license. Do what a lot of my friends have done and get the license even if you have no intention to make driving a regular thing as it could be needed regardless.
How you should do it
Start your theory test now
That’s what tripped me up the first time – I was so focused on falling into the practical lessons and the final test that I pushed the theory test to the side. You can’t do the practical test without passing your theory so get that over and done with as you have 2 years to then pass your driving test without the looming thought of the theory test hanging over you. Book your theory in advance as they do book up early, and make sure you have at least 2 months to study. Download a theory test practice app so you can study on the go or when you’re just relaxing in bed.
Also learn how to pass the Hazard Perception test – it’s about knowing when to click and how many times to click as well as being able to detect potential hazards (including ones you don’t think are technically hazards). I actually failed my practice hazard perception tests on the day of my test until someone in work mentioned the tactics in the clicks.
Find a great driving instructor
Now this is easier said than done and you should try and utilise both online reviews and word of mouth. Make sure you also do a few test runs with different instructors to get a look into their style of teaching, ask them what they see in your ability and the plan they have for you. Everyone is different and a good instructor should tailor his skills to you whilst making you feel comfortable and confident.
For some of us finding a great instructor isn’t always easy and you may end up having an instructor drop you two weeks before your driving test (yes that was me) however doing your research should help avoid this.
Book your practical test ASAP
They book up FAST. If you know you’re starting to get confident and feeling at ease with your skills book your practical test as soon as you can, they book up over 2 months in advance so do it sooner rather than later otherwise you’ll be shelling out more money in driving lessons to keep you on top of it when you could have passed by then.
Things to consider when you start driving
Motor insurance and road tax are a must and they’re required by law but road side assistance isn’t. I burst my tyre on the way home once and with the last bit of phone battery I managed to call my mum to come round and help me figure out what to do as I hadn’t purchased road side assistance. Thank god a lovely passer-by happened to be a mechanic and got my spare on in no time, but I was on a busy street close to home, you may be in the middle of nowhere where you might not see another soul for hours.
There are plenty to pick from and whichever you choose it can help you get out of a sticky situation and stay safe on the roads. To help you choose, all the major comparison websites now compare breakdown cover companies.
Making sure your tyres are of high quality
Breaking down in most situations can actually be avoided; fuelling up enough for your journey, changing your oil when necessary etc and something which people may not be aware of but making sure your tyres are of a high quality. Make sure you check your tyre tread (you can do the 20p test!), pressure and the quality of your tyres which are all important for staying safe.
Tyres are the only contact between you and the road so get the good ones and get them fitted by a qualified mechanic. If you’re looking for a new set of tyres online, go to Point S for the best deals.
Keep emergency items in your car
These go from the serious stuff like a warning triangle to bottles of water and cereal bars. You could be stranded for a long time, packing your car with a blanket, food and water and even a small first aid kit is smart especially if you’re doing a long journey. Nine times out of ten you probably won’t need any of this stuff, but it’s nice for a piece of mind and you may not even use the stuff yourself but could offer it to another driver who needs the help!
Regardless of how you do it or why you do it, driving great but it is a responsibility and it is expensive. Make sure you’re aware of legalities such as making sure your tyre treads aren’t worn down or having to MOT your car after it becomes 3 years old. You don’t want to be dealt with a fine, points or even endangering your life or the life of others. Get good tyres, check the laws, find out when your car tax is due and keep it in your diary and you’ll hopefully have a stress free experience!
This post was sponsored by Point S.