What To Expect On Your Very First Driving Lesson

by EzLicence Last updated

You’ve just obtained your learner driver’s licence and now you’re ready to start taking driving lessons! Woohoo, great job! You should be feeling proud and hopefully excited, some of you will also now be wondering... what do you do on your first driving lesson? How are driving lessons organised?

Don’t worry! What happens on your first driving lesson is usually going to be a bit more casual and relaxed than the rest of your driving lessons, and the first time actually driving a car is usually not as scary as you might think.

When it comes to starting your first driving lesson, Australia is actually pretty good place to start learning. With a large network of sealed roads, lots of quiet backstreets and car parks to practice, access to professional driving instructors, and compulsory safety requirements for all new modern cars, learner drivers in Australia have one of the most beginner friendly driving environments. 

In this article we’re going to take a look at what you can expect to in your first driving lesson, as well as provide a few tips to help you make the most of each point. So let’s dive into the process, step by step, starting with....


Getting picked up

Your driving instructor will pick you up from a destination and time of your choosing, whether that’s your home or a nearby shop, before school or after work, or some other time and place that works well for you (within reason).

If you’re going to be learning to drive in your own car, you’ll have to make sure you have learner plates displayed in appropriate locations so they are clearly visible on your car. The overwhelming majority of learner drivers however are going to be learning to drive in a driving instructor’s car, and who will already have learner plates (and signage or car wrap).


First driving lesson tips:

Have a checklist of things to take with you for your driving lesson. This will include your learner licence, your logbook, and any other items you may need with you (including water).

It is recommended to start your first driving lesson at your home address. In the off chance you do forget to bring anything with you, you will be able to easily retrieve it from your house. On the other hand if you meet your driving instructor at the shops and you forgot your learner licence, you aren’t legally allowed to drive and will likely have to forfeit your driving lesson.


Introduction to the car

Once you’re actually in the car, the first thing your driving instructor will do is usually to go over the range of dashboard instruments and car controls with you and make sure you know how to operate the car.

You’ll also need to take some time to adjust the driver’s seat, rear view mirrors, and get yourself into a position that is comfortable while still allowing you to easily access all of the controls in the car and clearly see the immediate surroundings of your car.


First driving lesson tips:

You aren’t expected to know everything perfectly, but learning a bit about the car you’ll be driving ahead of time will help to alleviate some of your nerves and may make it easier to learn to use the car.

Booking a driving instructor through a platform like EzLicence allows you to see what type of car your driving instructor drives ahead of time. This means you can look up the interior/dashboard layout for that model of car online before your driving lesson begins. 

EzLicence provides a description of your driving instructor's car before your driving lesson.

Your first drive

You’ll eventually be asked to drive around a bit, likely in a quiet backstreet or parking lot. It’s not very likely that you’ll drive a great distance since the first part of your lesson will have already been spent covering your knowledge of the car controls. Rather, you’ll likely only be expected to get a feel for the car in preparation for your next driving lessons.


First driving lesson tips:

Try to relax and focus on the road, and following any instructions given by your driving instructor. If weather conditions are not clear, then remember to drive to conditions by slowing down if necessary and keeping a reasonable distance between you and any other vehicles in front of you on the road.


Learning the basics

You won’t be expected to do anything too advanced on your first driving lesson, and it won’t be assumed that you have any prior experience. For example, even if you know how to reverse parallel park, for your first driving lesson your instructor probably isn’t going to know that and certainly won’t expect you to be doing it on your first day with them.

Instead they’ll take you through the essentials of controlling the car and the basics of driving safely. Your tasks will likely consist of starting the car and moving off from the kerb, parking the car, and maybe one or two other basic skills.


First driving lesson tips:

Even if you have already had a bit of previous practice with a parent or friend before your first driving lesson with a qualified driving instructor, you should not try and rush the process. 

Your driving instructor will be able to determine your driving ability quickly over the course of your driving lesson, and even if you have already practiced a skill before it can be a good chance for your instructor to be sure you learnt the correct way.


Using the Mirrors

As you’ve likely experienced with other mirrors, everything in your rear view mirrors is going to appear backwards! Yes, there’s a reason ambulances and some other emergency vehicles have their description written backwards on the front of the vehicle - it’s so you can easily read it in your rear view mirror and move out of the way.

You will also discover that “objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear” - a piece of advice that is written on most rear view mirrors. It may look like you have 6 car lengths worth of space behind you when the car following you is actually 2 car lengths away. 


First driving lesson tips:

Don’t rely on your rear view mirror if you need to reverse! You will need to turn your body and physically look behind you when reversing and to check for vehicles in your “blind spot” when merging lanes.

Remember to use your rear view mirrors when changing lanes during your driving lesson.

Learning to park the car

You can’t drive forever, and eventually you will need to park your car. If you’re already driving in a parking lot then there’s going to be plenty of opportunity for you to practice here, but if you’re on the road then don’t worry - kerbside parking is often pretty easy on a quiet road.


First driving lesson tips:

Remember that when parking the car you generally don’t need to apply the accelerator at all - by simply having your car in drive the transmission will pull you forward with enough power and speed to get you into the parking space. Instead of the accelerator, you should focus on applying the car’s brake as needed to maintain fine control and to prevent the car from colliding with anything.


Mistakes (oops)

While not impossible, it’s fairly unlikely you will manage to do everything you are asked to perfectly during your first driving lesson. Whether it’s accidentally pressing the brake pedal instead of the clutch, or turning on your windshield wipers instead of activating your indicator: mistakes happen. 

If you make a mistake, you shouldn’t let it affect your driving. Instead you should accept that it happened, reflect on why it happened, and then try to avoid repeating the actions that lead to it happening.


First driving lesson tips:

Obviously you should aim to avoid making mistakes - but you should accept that they happen sometimes, and when they do you should learn from them rather than beating yourself up over them.

Learn from any mistakes during your first driving lesson, they happen to everyone.

Feedback from your driving instructor

At the end of your first driving lesson your instructor will give you some feedback on how you went, and what you should aim to focus on learning or practicing until your next lesson. Make sure to pay attention and take note of their feedback, and try to use their advice to create a structured lesson plan with sessions that focuses on areas where you can improve your driving skill the most. 


First driving lesson tips:

Don’t be afraid to ask your driving instructor to write down a few small notes or key points for you to focus on learning. Depending on the state you live in, your log book may have a few spaces for your driving instructor to leave feedback or instructions.


Getting your logbook filled in

Don’t forget to take your logbook with you! After you’ve completed your lesson your instructor will be able to fill in your logbook - you just had a supervised driving lesson after all. If you’re in a state that offers competency based driving assessment as a pathway to getting your provisional licence, you can even have them mark you off on skills that you have displayed competency for too.

Depending on the state in which you are learning to drive, you may even be eligible for recognition of bonus driving experience for every hour you spend driving with a qualified driving instructor.


First driving lesson tips:

You should ALWAYS have your log book (and a pen or pencil) with you while driving, even if you’re only going somewhere 5 minutes away. Record every driving session once you’ve parked the car, before you exit the vehicle. While it may be tempting to leave it and fill it out at home, you run the risk of forgetting - or you may not be able to have your driving instructor sign the book to verify your hours for that drive.


If you’ve been asking yourself ‘what do you do on your first driving lesson?’, hopefully you found something in our article useful in helping you prepare for your first driving lesson. Remember, everyone learned to drive through the exact same process in order to gain driving independence including your driving instructor. No matter what happens on your first driving lesson, the important thing is to learn from the experience and use it to become a better driver in the future - this is just the beginning.

If you haven’t booked your first driving lesson yet, then simply enter your postcode into the instructor finder form below to browse the range of driving instructors available in your local area. Learning to drive takes a lot of time and practice, but now you can make your learning experience easier with EzLicence.