Driving provides great freedom, but it comes with a lot of responsibility that many new learner drivers aren’t accustomed to. The thought of being in control of a car might seem daunting at first and you may be feeling nervous about what other people on the road are going to think of you, or you could be excited and looking forward to a new challenge. Everyone has a different beginning, but with the right driving instructor and a bit of guidance on how to prepare for your first driving lesson, you can learn to drive confidently.
Much like preparing for any adventure, there are a number of ways you can prepare for your first steps that will help you get started on the right foot. First time driving lessons don’t have to be a scary experience. To help, we have compiled a list of advice for first driving lesson with your driving instructor to help you get the best start.
So let’s jump right into our first driving lesson tips!
Get plenty of sleep the night before your first driving lesson
Just like preparing for any important event, it’s essential that you are well rested on the day of your driving lesson. That’s why one of the most important first driving lesson tips is to get a good night of sleep.
Being well rested helps you stay focused, alert, energetic, and can help you feel ready to take on a new challenge. Experts also believe that getting enough sleep is highly important for developing “procedural memory” - the learning memory that helps you acquire new memories for “how” to do a skill such as playing an instrument, learning a language, riding a bicycle, or driving a car.
Even if it means you have to head to bed earlier than you would like, make a full night of sleep one of your priorities when preparing for your first driving lesson.
Familiarise yourself with the layout of a typical car
While cars can be fairly different from each other, they all have a few basic necessary features that are found in every car on the road, including:
- Accelerator pedal
- Brake pedal
- Steering wheel
- Indicators and lights
- Rear view mirrors
- Clutch pedal (in manuals only)
- Gear stick
- Dashboard instrument panel
With the exception of the pedals and steering wheel which are always in the same locations, the exact location of controls in a car may vary by the age, model, and type of car that you are driving. For example a manual car will have a clutch pedal and gear stick while an automatic will not have either of these, and some hybrid automatic/manual cars have semi-automatic gear selectors located near the steering wheel.
A service like EzLicence allows you to see the model of car a driving instructor uses, so you can research and learn the layout of your driving instructor’s car ahead of time. You will be more confident getting behind the steering wheel of the car for your first driving lesson if you have an idea of where everything you need should be located, and you’ll be less likely to make a mistake. It may also help you react to potential hazards quicker while driving - although your driving instructor will have dual control pedals to help you out in emergencies.
Drink water and eat food prior to your driving lesson
Make sure you have had water and something to eat ahead of your driving lesson. You will perform better and be able to think more clearly if you stay hydrated during your driving lesson, and you don’t want to get distracted or lose focus because you are hungry while driving. It can also be a good idea to take a water bottle with you.
Try to take only what you need for the driving lesson
The most important thing to remember is of course your learner drivers licence. You are required by law to carry this at all times while driving a car, and you risk losing your licence and being fined if you are caught driving not having your licence on you.
If you need to take your phone with you during your driving lesson, then you should either turn it off or set it to flight mode. You will not need your mobile phone at all during your driving lesson, and using a mobile device while driving is both dangerous and against the law.
If you are required to complete a learner driver logbook, make sure you have this with you so you’re driving instructor can sign it off at the end of your driving lesson.
Wear appropriate shoes and clothing
Wear comfortable shoes that allow you to freely move your feet. You should avoid heels or any other shoe that significantly impacts on how you would naturally use your feet. While many modern cars have features that can assist with driving, during your lessons it’s important that you learn to get a feel for driving the car completely unaided. Maintaining a consistent speed and applying the brakes or clutch are easier to do when you have footwear that allows you to move your feet freely
You should also wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move your arms and legs freely, and to turn your body easily. You will need to have ease of motion to use your arms to control the car, and you will need to be able to turn your body to visually check your blind spots while driving or reversing.
Stay focused on your driving lesson
It might seem like there will be a lot going on at once before you begin your first driving lesson. It’s true that while driving on the road you have to control the car, be mindful of the lights and indicators on the dashboard, pay attention to the road ahead, look out for potential hazards all around you, and your instructor will occasionally be talking to you.
Your attention for your first driving lesson should be primarily focused on listening to your instructor and doing what they suggest or ask. Your driving instructor will help you start off one step at a time, and they won’t make you try and do anything you’re not capable of doing (or aren’t able to practice safely).
You will probably find it’s actually not too bad once you begin to adjust to driving around in a carpark or a quiet backstreet. With time you will get used to juggling all of these factors, and when you have learnt how to prioritise your attention with a bit of support from your driving instructor you may find it’s actually easier than you expected.
Relax - first time driving lessons aren’t a driving test
For first time driving lessons, the driving instructor isn’t normally going to expect a student to do anything advanced. Depending on the driving instructor, you are probably going to be learning the basics of the car and may not even drive in traffic yet.
Many driving instructors will treat the first lesson as your first introduction to driving, and will structure a lesson that helps you to familiarise yourself with the inside of their car (especially if you don’t already know where to locate everything), before eventually getting you to drive around in a parking lot or quiet backstreets away from traffic.
Don’t be afraid of failure - if you make any mistakes, listen to your instructor, try and apply what they tell you, and learn from the experience
Don’t be afraid to ask your driving instructor questions
You aren’t expected to know everything. While it is expected that you know the road rules - since you passed your theory test after all - we know that it can feel like a very different experience once you’re actually physically in the driver’s seat and driving a car for the first time. Your driving instructor will likely be expecting you to be confused, nervous, completely inexperienced, and to have lots of questions about your driving lesson.
If you aren’t sure about something, then ask about it. Your driving instructor is there to teach you and help you become a safe and confident driver. You should make the most of the time you have with them to learn everything you can.
Listen to what your driving instructor is saying
Even if you think already know what you’re doing, it’s worth going over everything related to driving with your driving instructor. If you think you already know a fair bit, then this is a good chance to audit your skills and knowledge and get a good measure of your progress so far. It also helps to ensure you won’t develop any knowledge gaps or bad driving behaviours early on, which can be harder to fix later on.
Hopefully after reading this list of advice for first driving lesson, you should now have a better idea of how to prepare, and how to get the most out of the experience. Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before, stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothes, and try to relax and enjoy your first driving lesson!
If you’ve just obtained your learners permit and now you want to book your first driving lesson, then check out the impressive range of driving instructors available through EzLicence with the instructor finding form below.
With access to the largest range of driving instructors and driving schools available across Australia, it’s never been easier to find your ideal driving instructor and start learning to drive.