Most things are hard until you learn to do them well—and driving is no exception. The majority of people don’t pass their test on their first attempt, but most do end up passing within their first three goes. That suggests that most people find driving consistently to test standard difficult, but that it does become easier the more you work at it. Once you’ve got some mileage behind you, most people find that driving becomes almost second nature. Even as a learner, though, there are plenty of ways to make driving easier and give you the best chance of passing your test. First, though, you need to remember...
Just like some people find maths or acting or picking Maltesers up with chopsticks easy, some people are just naturally good at driving. It can be frustrating when someone else picks it up quicker than you, but in the end, chances are you’ll both end up with a driving licence. Other than a bit of a blow to your ego, there’s no reason to feel disheartened if you take a little longer to feel totally comfortable behind the wheel. Anyway, having the odd bad driving lesson is a totally normal experience.
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If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet started learning to drive, congratulations! There are exciting times ahead. Given how difficult it can seem at the start, it’s amazing (and reassuring) that most people learn to drive within a matter of months. The best thing you can do right now is to get a head start on the theory of driving, and know what to expect. Learn what’s in store during your first ever lesson—and don’t worry, it's not parallel parking or going on a motorway right away!
When you’re just starting to learn to drive, you might find everything difficult. That’s totally understandable: you’re learning a totally new skill, there’s a lot to take in, and there’s a level of risk attached to it. It’s totally normal to find driving hard to begin with, and wonder whether you’ll ever get the hang of it all. But at any stage along your driving journey, a really useful exercise is to try to identify what, specifically, you’re struggling with. When you know the problem, you can start working on a plan to tackle it. Also, we’ve got some really great guides and articles that might make all the difference!
Is the fear factor setting in? Lots of learners aren’t bad drivers, but they do lack confidence. On the roads it’s important to be aware of your capabilities, because being overly cautious is as dangerous as being too blasé. Gaining confidence will also help you avoid an ‘undue hesitation’ fault during your practical test.
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Firstly, know that clutch control is one of the areas that new drivers most often find hard. It’s a sensation that takes a while to get used to; even experienced drivers may need a bit of time familiarising themselves with a clutch in a different car. Now, some people never get the hang of clutch control, and that’s okay. You can always switch to an automatic car if things don’t improve. But before you jump ship, give yourself a chance. You’ll probably surprise yourself when it does eventually click into place.
Driving manoeuvres can seem really daunting at first, but when you break them down, they’re actually just a series of steps. Like with most things, when you know the method, you can execute the manoeuvre.
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This is a big one: if you don’t understand the rules of the road, you’ll find driving 10x more difficult. After all, you’ve got to know what you’re supposed to be doing in order to actually do it! Okay, so no learner driver is going to know every single rule out there, but the more you do know—about road signs, road markings and traffic signals—the better.
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Statistically, you’re less likely to pass your test first time as an older driver. But statistics, shmastistics (and we say that as people who love to crunch the numbers). You’ve got more life experience and you’ve probably spent more time in total on the roads... these things help! Anyway, you can’t magic yourself any younger. What we’re saying is: don’t be put off because you think you’ll find it harder than you maybe would have a few years ago. There’s absolutely an argument for learning when you’re younger if you can. But if that’s not an option, take the plunge now. Driving’s only going to become easier once you start to learn how to do it.
One of the most important things you can do to make driving easier is to get a great driving instructor. You want someone who really knows their business, and is able to communicate effectively with you. Basically, avoid these instructor red flags and you’ll be whizzing around in no time.
Like with so many things, practice makes perfect. If you want to learn to drive, you’ve got to be prepared to work at it. Whether or not driving comes easily to you, you won’t be able to pass your practical test without putting in the hours. Commit to a schedule of regular lessons, and you'll soon see improvements as you build on your driving knowledge.
Driving when you're tired can be dangerous, and your concentration will suffer, so it will be harder to learn new skills and be aware of any hazards around you. In order to get the most out of your driving lessons, try to be well rested each time you get in the car.
The person best placed to help you answer this question is your driving instructor. It really depends on what the issue is and whether there’s anything that will help solve it (there probably will be!). Remember that most learners struggle somewhere along their driving journey—and the vast majority of people still get there in the end.
Tests are a highly pressurised situation, and it could be that your nerves are just taking their toll. Lots of great drivers have to take their practical test a few times before gaining their licence. Take a look at what faults you received: are you consistently making the same mistakes? If you are, that's exactly what you need to concentrate on. Otherwise, it's a case of shaking off that feeling of despair, making sure you’re totally solid on your basics, and breathing deeply to calm yourself before the next big day.
While some cars may suit you better than others, the reality is that most modern cars are fairly similar to each other. For that reason, it’s not worth being too picky with what make or model a particular instructor has. Once you’re good enough to pass your test, it won’t take you long to adapt your skills to any other car. The exception, perhaps, is that automatics tend to be a little easier to drive than manual transmissions. You can check out the pros and cons of choosing one over the other here.
So, is driving hard? Well, most people will find some parts of learning to drive difficult. But, with lessons and time, it will become much more straightforward. And in the meantime, there are things you can do to make it all just a tiny bit easier. Let us know if any of these tips have helped you—we love hearing about people overcoming challenges!