Learning to Drive

5 Things Learners Most Regret

December 28, 2023

7 min read

Sam Plant's avatar

Sam Plant

Content Writer

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No driving journey is completely smooth. When working towards gaining your licence, you're likely to hit a pothole or two along the way—both literally and figuratively! After all, learning to drive is a big undertaking that costs time, money and maybe even a bit of your emotional stability!

At the end of the day, though, it is very much worth it. Seriously, you just can't beat the sense of freedom and accomplishment that comes with earning your very own driving licence.

In the interest of setting you up to have the best possible driving journey, we've mined the experiences of the many people who have come through our doors in order to pinpoint the most common regrets that plague learner drivers. This isn't about dwelling on mistakes, but rather treating such errors as an important lesson in how NOT to approach learning to drive. If the mistakes in question have been made by other people so that you can just learn by proxy—even better!

Here we go, then: the top 5 things learner drivers most regret doing…

1. Not taking the theory test seriously

a young lady sits down at a computer to take the UK driving theory test

One of the first things you'll want to get checked off your list when learning to drive is the theory test. Part multiple choice questions, part hazard perception clips—this exam is no walk in the park. For some reason, though, many people assume that it will be and so don't bother to revise for it properly. Honestly, if we had a penny for every learner who underestimates how hard the theory test is, everyone in the office would be driving a Bugatti by now!

You see, a lot of people hear 'multiple choice' and assume it is the type of quiz you can blag your way through. Oh, how wrong they are. These aren't like the multiple choice questions from the golden days of GMTV competitions—What colour is the sky? A: red, B: blue, C: purple or D: chair. Nope, the theory test is a deep dive into the rules outlined in the Highway Code, with a few traffic signs thrown in for good measure.

Don't let yourself get lazy with the hazard perception section, either. Clicking too often or in a particular pattern while watching the video clips will result in a fail. While there's no shame in failing to pass first time, it's simply not necessary to waste your money retaking tests. There are plenty of resources out there to help you understand exactly what's required of you and get test ready.

How to prepare for your theory test

Now that you know what not to do, let's have a quick look at what you can do to ensure theory test day is a success. For starters, you can find lots of helpful theory test advice on the PassMeFast website. Or, if you want some official DVSA material, check out the mock tests you can do online.

We highly recommend getting your theory test booked in and passed as soon as possible, so that you can start focusing on your practical driving skills. You won't be able to book a practical test until you're the proud owner of a theory test pass certificate. So, better get studying!

2. Waiting too long to book a driving test

A British pedestrian crossing with the word WAIT illuminated

Whether it's down to nerves, a lack of self belief, or a desire to put it off for as long as possible, some people take quite a while to commit to a practical test date. Even if you go for the intensive approach to lessons, learning to drive can take time. You need to keep in mind that once you feel ready to take the test (or your instructor assures you that you are) it could be another few months before a test slot becomes available. Gotta love those pesky wait times!

This is why we always recommend that learners book a practical test quite early, even if the date itself if a long way off. It gives you a set goal to work towards and you can organise your lessons accordingly.

That is not to say you should just jump at the next available test slot. Picking a realistic date is still important, because you don't want to stray into another issue some learners regret, which is taking the test before they are ready. Have a chat with your instructor early on in the learning process to get a rough idea of a time frame for completing your lessons and sitting the test.

Fast-track your practical test

Sadly, long wait times and last-minute test cancellations by the DVSA are a fact of life. While you can't beat the system, you can get those who know how to snap up the earliest available dates on your behalf. If we owned our very own horn, we would be tooting it right now because, here at PassMeFast, finding early tests is a skill of ours!

Our fast-track team are constantly monitoring the DVSA's calendar, so any last-minute availabilities (which may only appear for a few minutes) can be booked for our learners.

3. Not practicing outside of lessons

Young man and older woman sit in a car together. The young man is adjusting the rearview mirror while the older lady instructs him.

There's a lot to get your head around when it comes to driving and it's perfectly natural for learners to feel a little overwhelmed at times. This is one of the reasons why the DVSA recommends that you practise your driving with family and/or friends, as well as a professional instructor. It's a great way to work on your skills and get used to driving with different people in the car.

If driving outside of your main lessons is an option that's available to you, just make sure you adhere to the rules. The person you practise with needs to be at least 21 years old, have a licence to drive the car you're using, and have held this licence for at least 3 years.

Practise what your instructor preaches

Taking these extra lessons ensures you're devoting sufficient time to your driving, which should really build up your confidence behind the wheel. They need to be approached in a particular way, though.

What you have to consider is that family members and friends who have been driving for years may have picked up bad habits that the DVSA would not be thrilled about. Use these sessions as an opportunity to practice the skills your instructor has taught you, not as a time to learn new things.

4. Taking a break from the learning process

Two feet hanging out of a rear window of a parked car

We'll let you into a little secret: there will never be a perfect time to learn to drive. What we mean by this is that life has a way of throwing challenges at you that could interfere with lessons or stall your driving plans altogether. In such scenarios, unless it is really out of the question to keep driving (and we appreciate that financial, health or family emergencies take priority!), we recommend that you resist calling a time out.

You see, taking a long break from driving can set your progress back significantly. It often means that you'll eventually have to fork out even more money, just to learn the same things all over again. Not ideal. If possible, get stuck into your driving lessons and keep at it until you manage to pass the test.

Go intensive or take the time to refresh

If you feel like you just don't have the time to learn to drive, you clearly haven't considered an intensive course. This involves taking bigger chunks of lessons over a short period of time, in order to learn everything very quickly and get test ready within a matter of weeks rather than months.

But what if personal or financial issues mean that you have no choice but to take a break from driving? Well, even though it's not ideal, it's also not the end of the world. In fact, PassMeFast provides refresher courses for exactly such scenarios. These are shorter driving packages that give you just enough time to refresh your memory of skills you already developed, and polish up on any areas you think could use some work before test day.

5. Letting nerves get the better of them

Being in charge of a powerful vehicle and having to learn a whole new range of skills can really throw people out of their comfort zone. As a result, nerves are a somewhat inevitable part of learning to drive—but they can be worse for some than others. If they get so bad that they prevent you from making progress, it's time to do something about it.

The driving test itself is going to be a bit of a stressful situation, there's no getting around that. You can, however, control the intensity of your nerves and how you respond to them. 

Adrenaline is your friend

Dealing with driving nerves requires a two-pronged approach: using the adrenaline to your advantage and believing in your own abilities. Just like an actor about to take to the stage, you can use the adrenaline produced by anxiety to improve your performance. Think about it—driving requires you to be alert and focused, so channel your nervous energy into these senses!

Don't assume that nerves are a sign that you're not a competent driver, either. A big part of feeling confident behind the wheel is how you view your own skills. If you've put the work in and your instructor thinks you're ready for the test, trust the expert and believe in yourself!

Everyone's driving journey is different, so there are a range of things learner drivers might do differently if they had the opportunity to go back in time. The above 5 points are just the most common ones that we hear from newly qualified drivers. Use them as a map that highlights the bumps in the road to avoid in order to enjoy a straightforward driving journey.

Recently passed your driving test and still have some lingering regrets? If it's to do with your driving abilities, you might want to take a Pass Plus course. This is an extra 6 hours or so of lessons that introduce you to aspects of driving not necessarily covered in the practical test. We're talking skills like travelling at night, tackling country roads and motorway driving.

Speaking of motorways, learners are now able to take motorway lessons with their driving instructor (though it is still not assessed on the practical test). To get a well-rounded learning experience it's a great idea to take advantage of this new option!

However you decide to navigate your driving journey, we wish you lots of luck and a speedy pass!

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