It`s official – summer is over for another year, and autumn is here. This means you may have taken a well-earned break from your driving lessons due to the summer holidays, and have since returned to Sixth Form, College or University. Or, maybe you`ve not had the motivation to kick-start your lessons again after the pandemic grounded things to a halt. Like anything else, making the return to driving is a big step.
You may be feeling apprehensive, nervous or even unsure that you`ve remembered everything you`ve learnt so far. Not to worry – we`re here to guide you back into driving lessons. And just like that famous phrase, it will be just like riding a bike… or in this case, a car!
#1 Reacquaint yourself with the car
If you`re looking for a confidence booster, just take five minutes to sit in the car and remember where everything is. Once you`re in the driving seat, ready to put your seatbelt on, you`re sure to pick things up easily again.
Having that breathing time to compose and get comfortable is ideal. Let`s keep things super simple and list the most important things to remember:
- Adjust the seat, head rest, steering wheel and the mirror positions, if you need to
- Pedals – don`t come off the clutch too early
- Indicators (and lights, for early morning or evening drives)
- Windscreen wipers, for that wet autumnal weather
- Gear stick – you want to make sure you`re in reverse, when you need to be
Of course, reacquaint yourself with the rest of the controls, should you need to use them for any reason.
#2 Take a test drive
You know what they say, practice makes perfect. And that couldn`t be more apt when it comes to driving lessons – whether you`re physically out in the car, perfecting your manoeuvres, or brushing up on your skills ahead of your theory test.
If you`re feeling particularly nervous about meeting your instructor again and setting foot into their car, why not go for a quick drive with a family member, the day before?
A survey conducted by Bill Plant Driving School during lockdown earlier this year, suggested that nearly three-quarters of parents (73%) were unwilling to take their children on `driving lessons`.
Now that we`re gradually getting back to a level of normality, we can guarantee, that`s bound to be lower. So, ask your parent to take a short trip – just don`t forget those `L` plates.
Remember, anyone you practise driving with must be over the age of 21, be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you`re in, and have their driving licence for at least three years.
#3 Slow and steady is not an issue
There`s nothing wrong with feeling a little rusty – after all, even experienced drivers forget things from time to time. It won`t be long before driving becomes second nature again, so just keep your cool and don`t rush.
If you are feeling particularly nervous, tell your instructor, and they`ll be able to put your mind at ease. Of course, they won`t be expecting you to pick up from where you left off – particularly if you had an extended break – but by letting them know how you`re feeling, they`ll be able to give guidance and even offer suggestions on how to prepare.
Even the simple things may be forgotten, or hard to get back into, so always remember:
- Gear shifts
- Clutch control
- Observations – check your rear-view mirror frequently, and always double check at junctions and roundabouts
- Be prepared to adjust your driving style at different times and situations
#4 Revisit your theory
Of course, that is, if you haven`t passed it yet. By preparing yourself for your theory test, you`ll carry on learning the rules of the road, which may give you confidence before you start your next driving lesson.
It may seem silly, but simply knowing what the different road signs mean, and knowing your speed limits in certain areas will be a great help as you get back behind the wheel.
These days, there are so many different books, apps and resources that you can use to aid with your theoretical learning – not to mention, countless videos on the likes of YouTube. At gov.uk, you can even take a practice theory test – and complete both parts: the hazard perception and the multiple-choice questions.
It shouldn`t feel like a big milestone as you get back into driving. As long as you remain calm, patient, and in control, you`ll find re-starting your lessons after a break, no problem at all. Remember to ask questions, where you need to, and your instructor`s support will be invaluable, as you take that next step towards freedom.