The idea getting into a car and actually learning to drive may make you feel apprehensive, or nervous. That’s understandable. It’s a new experience, but your driving instructor is on hand to help you every step of the way. You will not be thrown into any heavy traffic situations, or scenarios that might overwhelm you. The driving curriculum is a layered approach that builds up at a pace that suits you, and is concentrated on giving you the skills you need, not just to pass your driving test, but to become a safe driver for the duration of your driving career.
So, what happens on your first driving lesson?
Your driving instructor will call for you at your pick up point (e.g. home, work, gym, school).
After introductions, there will be a little bit of in-car admin, such as checking your driving license (bring both the card and paper counterpart, as these are both still required in Northern Ireland at present).
An eyesight check will be carried out to ensure you can read a licence plate at a distance of 20.5 metres.
The lesson will be tailored to fit in with your previous driving experience. Your driving instructor will ask you a few questions to assess your previous experience, if any. The driving instructor will then drive to a nearby “nursery patch”, a quiet area with less traffic. On the drive, the instructor will give you a brief talk-through, e.g. the use of mirrors, steering, or using the clutch for gear changes.
On arrival at the “nursery patch”, your instructor will run through a few safety matters, before you both exit the car and swap seats.
You will then be introduced to what is referred to as the “cockpit drill”, which is the routine you will use every time you get into a car, to ensure that it is properly set up for you. The drill is easily remembered by the acronym “D, H, triple S, M”, which stands for “Door, Handbrake, Seat, Seatbelt, Steering, Mirrors”. This is important, because if you are getting private practice with a qualified friend or family member (who has held a full UK driving licence for three years), you will need to know how to set up the car for yourself.
You will be shown the controls for the car to ensure you are familiar with where everything is, (nothing worse than wiping your windows when you are supposed to be signalling your direction!)
The MSM (Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre) routine will be introduced, and you will then drive the car. This will then be expanded and built upon in the next lesson.
Nothing too overwhelming at this stage. This is where you and your driving instructor start to build good, strong foundations that will underpin everything you do, and the decisions you make as a confident and competent road user with a long, incident free driving career ahead of you.