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Learning to drive

What to expect from your first driving lesson

learner driver insurance

It's finally here! The day you get behind the wheel for what is probably the first time. It's a big day - but it can be pretty nerve-racking too.

It helps if you know what you first driving lesson will involve beforehand, so make sure you prepare. You'll pick things up much easier if they're familiar to you and you feel confident about what happens next.

Are first driving lessons scary? Sure, a bit. But you've got this.

  1. Before your first driving lesson

  2. Your driving lesson prep:

    • Get some sleep
    • Do NOT drink the night before
    • Breakfast!
    • Double-check where and when you're being picked up

    What to bring to your driving lesson:

    • Comfy, non-slip shoes
    • Glasses if you think you'll need them for driving
    • Your cash / cheque for the lesson
    • Remember your provisional licence
    Before your lesson
  3. Getting picked up for your first driving lesson

    Be ready. If you're late, it's your time and your money. Some driving instructors will ring the doorbell, some will wait in the car for you - so keep an eye out. My driving instructor was often early so I'd go out straight away to get a free 5 minutes!

    Don't worry - you're not going to have to get in the driving seat straight away.

    You'll be getting in the passenger seat to start with, while your instructor takes you to a quiet place for you to get to grips with the basics.

  4. The cockpit drill

  5. When you've arrived at a quiet road with low traffic, your instructor will have you switch so you're in the driving seat. Weird, huh?

    Your instructor will explain the cockpit drill to introduce you to the checks you'll need to do every time you drive.


    The cockpit drill or DSSSM:

    • Doors securely closed?
    • Seat in a comfortable position?
    • Steering position established?
    • Seatbelts on?
    • Mirrors adjusted?
    Cockpit drill
  6. The controls

  7. Next, you'll get a run-through of the clutch, accelerator and brake, how to use the handbrake and indicator, and how to change gear.

    Don't be afraid to ask if you can run through the controls again because you'll want to be sure when you're suddenly doing 20 miles an hour and it feels like 120.

    Don’t worry too much though - your instructor will talk you through everything as you go.

    2 hours is best for your first lesson so you have a chance to learn your controls and get some driving in too.
  8. Taking to the road in your first driving lesson

  9. You guessed it: time to drive. Before you start the engine, your instructor will explain a few key procedures:

    Driving you'll learn about in your first lesson:

    • Moving off: getting ready to use your gears
    • Clutch control including finding the biting point
    • Checking your mirrors and blind spot
    • Signalling with your indicator
    • Changing gear
    • Stopping the car, covering the brake and the clutch
    • Curb-side parking
    Changing gear

    Once you get going, try to relax and remember that your instructor has their own set of controls so you can focus on learning without being scared.

    If you get the chance, do move out onto the road so you can experience ‘proper’ driving. You won’t regret it!

  10. After your first driving lesson

  11. Your instructor will drop you home once your time is up. Have a chat about how you found the lesson and anything you think you need more work on next time.

    Some driving instructors offer discounts for block bookings, so see if you can book the same slot for several weeks at a time. Ideally, you should have 2 or 3 lessons a week to minimise time between lessons so you don't forget what you're learning.

    But don't rush. Everyone learns at their own pace and it's important to be fully prepared when you take your test. If you're wondering how long it'll take you to get to driving test time, read our advice about how many driving lessons you'll need.

You'll be fine

Think of the silliest person you know who can drive a car. If they can do it, you'll have no trouble.

And if you think of a question, ask it. I guarantee it's not the stupidest thing your instructor will have heard (I can probably claim that one).

Good luck!

learner driver insurance

learner driver insurance

Don’t forget to take your provisional licence photocard with you for your first lesson.