Notepad

So you’re on a life changing journey. Learning how to drive!! Exciting! But you might also be a bit intimidated…After all, starting driving lessons, maybe choosing an intensive driving course, finding a driving instructor or driving school, are not the kind of things that you do every day.In fact most people probably only want to take driving lessons just once in their entire lives. But if they make a bad choice of driving school they may have to do lessons over and over again.

And given the statistics that over 50% of people fail their driving test it’s obviously very easy to make a bad choice.

But the problem until now has been that there’s very little easily available expert information to help you choose a driving instructor who is best for you. Which is where we at Driving Test Pro come in.

On this page we have the most comprehensive guide to learning the skills that you need to pass the driving test. These skills will also serve you well once you’re out on your own. But before you go to the skills section, we’ve some little known information that could help you save hundreds of pounds.

Like how most driving schools are so keen to get your money that they keep very quiet about the qualifications of their instructors! Read on

Welcome

In overview, what you’ll find here are:

  • Great video lessons - prepare for and revise your driving lessons
  • A complete guide to the Driving Test - pass first time
  • Local driving instructor comparison - find the best one for you
  • All sorts of other weird and wonderful helpful information

These categories will help if

  • you’re looking for hourly driving lessons or an intensive driving course
  • you’re a complete novice, driving test standard or anywhere in between
  • You want to find the best driving instructor for you

The first thing that you’ll probably want to know is how to tell a good instructor from one who isn’t. We’ve got a list of consumer savvy questions for you to ask before you part with any money.

If you’ve already chosen a driving school and are having driving lessons but are struggling to learn, it may not be you that’s the problem but the teaching style of your instructor.

No worries, our free video lessons show you what the differences are in teaching techniques between good and not so good.

These are not your average common or garden driving videos. You know, the sort with lots about what you have to do and very little about how to do it.

Our videos are more like a set of cheats and walk-throughs for the driving test. They’re highly focused and tell you exactly what you need to do to deal with any situation. What is really amazing is that each topic is covered in less than a minute. You read that right, under sixty seconds.

You’ll probably also want to make sure that you’ve covered every topic that you need to pass the driving test. That way you can be sure that you’re going to deliver just what exactly the examiner is looking for.

We’ve got that covered too with our free, ultra-detailed guide to the examiners’ driving test marking report.

This also doubles as your ultimate driving lesson progress form. You can also use it to chart your progress so that you’ll know when you’re ready for your test.

And once you’ve read this guide it’s likely you’ll want to find an instructor. Of course we’ve got this covered too.

The thing is, we don’t just promote Driving Test Pro approved instructors on this site. Why? Because in spite of training learners and training instructors ourselves this is a resource for you. So we have open listings available to all instructors.

Every individual instructor in the country is given the option of listing a whole host of their details for the benefit of potential customers. So that you can compare them at a glance rather than spending hours phoning and texting them to find out what they offer.

There’s also a whole host of other information that can help you to overcome ‘humps in the road’ of the learning process.

Contents

Before you get in the car or choose an instructor

  1. Insider knowledge that you might not be aware of
  2. The 7 basics of what to lookout for when choosing a Driving School
  3. Some more facts that can save you money
  4. 5 things you need to know before choosing an Intensive Driving Course

More useful expert knowledge that you probably won’t have thought of

  1. Understanding Driving
  2. Different types of driving
  3. Comfortable driving
  4. Everyday driving
  5. Thrill seeking driving

Understanding Teaching

  1. Styles of teaching
  2. Methodical versus non-methodical teaching strategies
  3. The different tactics used by methodical and non-methodical instructors
  4. Why teaching vehicle operation non methodically takes longer
  5. Why do instructors use different styles of teaching

Understanding Learning

  1. Self awareness and the driving task
  2. Self assessment helps speed up learning
  3. Self improvement requires effort but results in things becoming easier
  4. Understanding how your learning mind works

Choosing a type of car to learn in

  1. Special adaptations needed when learning to drive for those with disabilities
  2. Should I learn to drive car with manual or automatic transmission
  3. What’s the difference between manual and automatic
  4. Which is easiest to learn to drive
  5. What makes the clutch tricky to use and increases the likelihood of stalling
  6. How to make learning to use the clutch easier
  7. Using the left foot to brake and the right for the gas
  8. Am I more likely to pass a test in an automatic car?
  9. Running a car after passing the driving test
  10. What if I need to drive a manual car
  11. What are the differences when learning in a diesel, rather than petrol engined car?
  12. How will I learn best, are hourly or intensive lessons better?
  13. Other options for your choice of car

On screen tests

  1. Theory
  2. Hazard perception

Starting to Drive

  1. Barriers to learning
  2. Basic control skills
  3. The number one thing that many instructors fail to spot
  4. Steering
  5. Awareness and Planning
  6. Driving in traffic skills
  7. Manoeuvres

Beyond Novice

  1. Junctions including Roundabouts
  2. Dual carriageways
  3. The Driving Test
  4. After the test

Now sit back and get comfy. Some bits may be a bit hard going others may be obvious, but if you don’t understand something please let us know so that we can improve this ultimate guide.

Before you get in the car or choose an instructor

Insider knowledge that you might not be aware of

The next couple of sections are really boring, but could save you £500 or more. Don’t be stupid. Really. Don’t be stupid. Read them. Be bored. Save money.

If you’ve no time to read the rest of our guide and potentially save yourself a whole load of heartache (and money) there are links that follow to the four biggest driving schools in the UK.

But before you rush out and book with them read this too. Why? Because we want to draw your attention to a very important, customer unfriendly get out clause in all of their terms and conditions.

The 7 basics of what to lookout for when choosing a Driving School

Did you know that most of the businesses that promote themselves as Driving Schools are really nothing more than booking agents rather than driving schools?

That they will wash their hands of any responsibility if you have issues with one of their instructors?

And that their instructors are effectively all on zero hours contracts?

It’s all in their terms and conditions. Let’s have a look:

AA driving school logo

Your instructor is a self-employed franchisee of Automobile Association Developments Limited…

The contract for driving tuition is solely between you and your instructor.

British School of Motoring BSM logo

Your instructor is a self-employed franchisee (“Your Instructor”) of Automobile Association Developments Limited trading as “BSM” (“BSM”, “We”, “Us”, “our”).

The contract for driving tuition is solely between you (“You”) and Your Instructor.

Quick question. Did you notice that BSM is the AA under a different trading name?

RED driving school logo

RED engages directly with individual franchised driving instructors, who are self-employed and act in their capacity as franchisees of RED under the terms of a franchise agreement between RED and the instructor. The contract for driving tuition is solely between you and your instructor.

Bill Plant driving school logo

The Pupil should be aware that all Bill Plant instructors are franchisees of the company. Bill Plant Driving School Ltd. takes no responsibility for any payments made by the pupil directly to the instructor, as these monies are not paid to Bill Plant Driving School Ltd.

Some more facts that can save you money

So, did it come as a surprise to you to discover that the major driving schools are just booking agents?
That AA and BSM are in fact the same company? – Yet if you go onto their websites you’ll see that they charge different prices.

Did you also know that they can all legally supply you with someone who has only just qualified without telling you? Or, even worse, someone who is only a trainee instructor and who may never qualify, without ever making you aware?

How much do you think it would cost you to learn if you were only taught by a trainee? Do you think these ‘driving schools’ give you a discount if they supply a trainee?

If you must go with one of these without finishing our guide we advise that you ask for a Grade A instructor. (More about that later). But you can often save money and get better instruction elsewhere.

If you’re interested in an intensive course and want to save money the following might interest you. If not SKIP to further down the page.

5 things you need to know before choosing an Intensive Driving Course

A similar booking agent business model goes for Intensive Driving Course Specialists, of which these are just 4.

intensivecourses.co.uk logo

Where Intensivecourses.co.uk Ltd Driving School Agency makes bookings with, or supplies any information or documentation to you, or processes any payments for your lessons, they act as the agent for your instructor.

Intensivecourses.co.uk Ltd accepts no responsibility if you the pupil choose to go direct to your allocated instructor after meeting your instructor or once your course has been completed.

Oneweekintensivedriving

Oneweekdriving.com Ltd act solely as a booking and administrative agent for driving instructors and schools registered with us, who teach intensive and semi-intensive driving courses in the UK. They are subcontracted with our driving school to provide an intensive driving course, with oneweekdriving.com providing the administration required for the subcontracted driving instructors. This means that we do not provide any driving courses ourselves and we undertake all our activities on behalf of the individual driving schools or driving instructors. We are paid on commission off the instructor for successful bookings.

Oneweekdrivingcourse

oneweekdrivingcourse.co.uk Ltd is an introducer appointed representative of Ideal Sales Solutions Ltd T/A Ideal4Finance. Ideal Sales Solutions is a credit broker and not a lender FRN 703401 Finance available subject to status. Loans of 25000 and above available on a secured basis. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

Fastpassintensive

Any recommendation given or quotation provided by the Agent is an estimate for a course that is considered suitable based on the information given by the Pupil and the Agent’s experience of the driver training industry. This is particularly important if the Pupil has a disability or special needs. There is no promise or guarantee:
that any course will be suitable or sufficient for the Pupil’s needs
about the quality of the tuition provided
about the date that a course or test will be arranged
that the personality and temperament of the Pupil and the Instructor will be compatible
of the result of any test conducted.

So you see all of the national intensive ‘specialists’ are just booking agents as well. But the ‘deposit’ that this type of company will ask for is usually hundreds of pounds.

All they do for that is to contact instructors in your area to see if any of them needs work. None of them actually employ instructors. Despite the impression they give of having instructors nationwide.

Which means that you can spend more of your budget on actually learning to drive if you bypass these middle men.

There. You’ve barely been reading for five minutes and you’ve probably already saved yourself well over £100, possibly even over £500. That's enough to cover the cost of your driving and theory tests and have some over to pay for more lessons, should you need them.

As well as saving you money, if you read this guide to the end and follow its advice you’ll probably save a whole load of time and become a more skilled driver too.

More practical expert knowledge that you probably won’t have thought of
Firstly we want you to start thinking more deeply about learning to drive. What are you learning? How are you taught? How do you learn?
Understanding Driving
In this section you’ll find information on

Different types of driving
The first thing you need to understand is what is meant by driving. Duh. That might seem obvious. It’s simply moving a car from point A to point B. But that’s not what your driving test examiner thinks it is. And it’s what they think that really matters.

The way an examiner thinks about driving is from a risk management point of view. In this context risk management means how safe do other people feel.

There's a scale going from no risk and everyone feeling completely safe to inevitable crash and everyone being terrified. Within this scale driving has been academically broadly categorised into three styles:

Comfortable
Everyday
Dynamic or Thrill seeking
Comfortable driving
Comfortable driving has safety at its core. It is proactive. Safety and the feeling of safety always takes precedence over progress. The driver, passengers and other road users can be certain about what the car is going to do all the time. The passenger experience is largely jerk free This is probably the style of fewer than ten percent of people.

It’s how you need to drive if you want to be sure of passing your test. It’s a pretty boring way to drive, but then who ever makes walking exciting? Do you rush up to the back of people and then suddenly stop? Do you spend your time walking down the road remaking that scene from the film “Get Out”. Of course you don’t. So why drive like that, just because everybody else does?
Everyday driving
As the driver starts to move away from safety and to prioritize progress the driving style becomes Everyday driving. The driving tends to become somewhat jerky. The vast majority of people drive in this style. Maybe because the vast majority of instructors teach this style

In everyday driving most drivers aren't particularly aware or bothered by the jerkiness. Nor of its effect of making others feel less than completely safe. They themselves though feel safe and in control.

From a subjective point of view their driving is fine. From an objective point of view some parts aren’t fine. So everyday driving may or may not be good enough to pass the driving test.

If you drive like this you’ve got about a 50% chance of passing your test.

However, as progress becomes a greater priority the passenger experience feels less safe and comfortable. At some point everyday driving is no longer safe enough to pass the test.

Whether drivers are aware or not of their effect on others, they know that even as they drive faster they have very little chance of getting fined or getting points on their licence..

Even if directly observed by the police they can get away with a lot of things that would fail a driving test.. These might include things such as driving too close, forcing their way into traffic, and breaking speed limits.

The thing about everyday driving is that although progress is prioritised the driver doesn't get from A to B much faster. All that happens is that they get from one hold up to the next more quickly. Just like the hare and the tortoise.
Thrill seeking driving
For some everyday drivers, at certain times, progress is prioritised way above considerations of people's safety, including the driver's. This style of driving is known as Thrill seeking. It’s much more common in motorcyclists than car drivers.

However, while motorcyclists end up killing themselves it’s the car drivers who drive like this that end up killing and maiming others as well as themselves.

Many people are not made aware of these styles of driving by their instructor, because not even all instructors are aware of the difference.

For this reason people are often surprised when their everyday driving causes them to fail their test. Because, to their mind, they always had every situation under control.

If you fail to understand the importance of driving comfortably you’ll be more likely to fail your test.
Understanding Teaching
Next you need to understand about the teaching part of learning to drive. The style of teaching is obviously down to your instructor.

This is a bit of a crazy thing to reveal but…..there’s a lot of historical evidence to suggest that people don’t learn to drive any better with most instructor led driving lessons than they do with friends and family. This has been detailed by cognitive psychologist Professor John Groeger in his scientific paper The lawful nature of learning: acquisition of driving skills.

So why do we tell you, on a site that is giving advice about choosing a driving instructor, that research indicates that most instructors are no better than parents?

Styles of teaching
The method used by most instructors is a heuristic one, that is to say it usually works eventually. It is not detailed in its approach but uses a guided trial and error way of learning. This is the way that most instructors teach the world over and it was instructors of this ilk that Professor Groeger’s research was looking at.

So we want to alert you to the difference between methodical teaching of comfortable driving and non-methodical teaching of Everyday driving.

They differ in their
Strategies - What needs to be done
Tactics - What processes are to be used
Operation - The detail of those processes
Strategies
Strategically, Everyday driving is based on the driver feeling safe subjectively as the car makes progress along the road

The strategy of Comfortable driving is to get you to understand your driving from an objective, risk management point of view. Keeping others feeling safe is at the heart of driving risk management.

You’ll also get to learn something about the psychology of driving. With this knowledge, you’ll have a better insight to the driving test and be more skilled out on the road, once you have passed your test.
Tactics
The tactics used in Everyday instruction are to teach people mirrors, then signals and then move on to instruction on moving the car and dealing with traffic. This is simply because that is the way that things are presented in the phrase ‘mirrors-signal-manoeuvre’.

However, this emphasis on using mirrors and signals is bad from a learning point of view.

According to academic research by Dick deWaard of the University of Groningen experienced drivers naturally reduce mirror checks as task difficulty increases. His conclusion was that mirror checks put unnecessary load on the brain, when its attention needs to be directed to more important car control tasks.

So to help learners save their brain power for learning more important tasks the instructor should be checking the mirrors. Mirror use shouldn’t be added until the learner can control the car to an acceptable level.

Controlling the car at low speed and the skill to bring the car to that low speed are the tactics that you’ll learn first in methodical driving. This is because the greatest likelihood of collision is due to failing to get to a low enough speed, to put the car where you want. Not failing to use your mirrors.

Logical risk management therefore that dictates these skills should be learned before mirror and signal use.

If you learn how to control the car you can negotiate any hazard.
If you approach hazards slowly enough you will be able to negotiate them
If you search for hazards you’ll be aware and able to approach them

The tactics of learning to do things in this order is the way for you to acquire your driving skills with less distraction, and therefore is ultimately likely to be quicker.

Once you have learned these skills your performance is unlikely to be noticeably compromised when you come to learn to use the mirrors or signals
Operations
Operational instruction is the detail of how to manoeuvre the car. Sadly most everyday instruction is quite vague, with advice like “brake harder” or “steer more”. Friends and family and instructors who use the mirror-signal-manoeuvre routine are likely to give instructions such as these.

It is therefore unsurprising that there isn’t any difference in the driving skills of people taught by instructors and non instructors. Both depend on the learner eventually working out how much to steer, brake or whatever by trial and error.

Some instructors try to help by getting people to analyse their own driving. While analysis like this can help to some degree, it is unlikely to produce very good results if the driving that the pupil is aiming for is Everyday driving.

Methodical teaching of comfortable driving has much more detailed operational instructions. This is what makes it a better way of learning. Especially for those who don’t have a natural aptitude.

Each type of action will have specific instructions. For example an instruction on how much to steer when turning left might be “You should aim to pull up next to the kerb just around the corner” rather than the everyday “Steer more”. Most learners will need little practice to steer and brake with great accuracy if the instruction is sufficiently detailed.

Hopefully you can also see that comparing your performance to a methodically detailed instruction can offer much more help to improve it.

So you’re now aware general shortcomings with typical everyday driving lessons and some of the problems with MSM as a teaching method.
Why do instructors use different styles of teaching
The big problem is that these on-the-fly techniques are the ones that are still taught to driving instructors by the major training establishments such as BSM, RED, Bill Plant and others. As they will then be passing on these techniques, you can obviously see why this is an issue. To understand why these methods have been used for so long it’s necessary to understand a bit more about the history behind driver training.

By learning to drive with methodical Comfortable strategies, rather than heuristic Everyday ones you will be able to drive like an expert in a few tens of hours. There is no need to spend years getting experience.

Such expert training doesn’t have be delivered directly by an expert though. Following expert instruction through a book or online course can deliver good results too. The main advantage of having an expert present is that they will quickly notice if you deviate from the expert method.

You can access our unique course of expert method driving videos for free. Let us know how they compare to others that you might see on the web.

In recent years though some instructors have begun to question this accepted wisdom about how driving should be learned. Consequently, a style of teaching has emerged that is much more methodical.(SCAN).

The lesson here is make sure that you learn methodically, not heuristically, if you want to get your skills to a higher standard and do it quicker.
Understanding Learning
Now for the learning part, which is down to you. There are three aspects to this:

Self awareness - do you know what you are doing?
Self assessment - compare this to what you should do
Self improvement - make the change

Self awareness doesn’t just apply to learning to drive but to all aspects of your life.

If you’ve done some driving lessons before reading this article, it’s likely that you’ve learned to drive heuristically, but now maybe you’re beginning to change your mind about the best way to learn. If you haven’t learned before then at least you can now make an informed choice about what type of instructor you’ll choose.

Having made that choice you need to look at yourself.

Do you just want to turn up for lessons and learn everything in the car. Or do you want to be prepared for them. Being prepared can save you money. There are various books, apps and videos that can help you get ready for your theory, hazard perception and practical driving.

Aside from these training resources and your own self awareness, it is your ability to self assess and self improve that will enable learning to take place at a good pace. Many people are not taught these skills in school as part of their general education. Frequently it is only when they come to do driving lessons that they learn such skills.
Self awareness and the driving task
When people reach the stage in life when they want to learn to drive, most seem to be of the belief that they can control their limbs easily. Most people don’t struggle to run or to use a computer keyboard.

However most major motor skills are learned quite early in life. For many people driving is the first new physical thing that they learn in a good number of years.

So when people start to drive they often discover that they can’t always coordinate themselves as well as they thought they could. Many get frustrated. Some even blame the car itself. A little bit of thought will bring back memories of not being able to do things. A bit more will bring back the learning process itself

Self awareness about the fact that you take time to learn may help reduce frustration. No-one is good at everything to begin with. But some are more fortunate, simply in the way that their brain happens to be randomly wired. This makes controlling a car easier for some than it is for others.

So if progress is not made at the rate you expect or hope for, don’t blame yourself. Blame your brain wiring. It is more likely that your hopes and expectations about your rate of progress is the major problem.
Self assessment helps speed up learning
Self assessment means taking a logical and measured (SMART) rather than emotional stance to improvement while learning. If people don’t make the progress that they want, they need to look at what is preventing the progress rather than bemoaning it.

Naturally this is where a good instructor will help. But if you don’t have a good instructor you can help yourself by deconstructing elements of your driving and finding out just where improvement needs to be made to make things easier overall.
Self improvement requires effort but results in things becoming easier
This brings us on to self improvement. Many people find improvement in a particular area much easier than others. This often leads to developing inefficient compensating behaviour and coping strategies.

For instance, when learning many people position badly when turning left. However their instructors often don’t notice, as they do the same. So to compensate many concentrate on steering more quickly. Which is exactly what many people do

Unfortunately quicker steering will not always be enough. In some circumstances the position is so bad in the first place that no amount of steering will compensate. On such occasions it may therefore be necessary to reverse the car and try again.

Correcting a problem rather than doing the right thing is not usually a problem once people have a licence. It could however lead to you failing if you have to correct too many things on your driving test.

By addressing the position problem from the very beginning there won’t be any problems on the driving test or once you’ve passed. This of course applies to a whole raft of situations that can occur when learning.

The lesson here is to be aware of how your personality and control of it affect the speed at which you learn and the standard to which you learn.
Understanding how your learning mind works
If you want to know more about how managing your personality can help you to learn to drive there is an excellent book, by renowned sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters, It is called The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme for Confidence, Success and Happiness

Although Dr Peters is not involved in driver training, the principles within his book may well help anyone who is struggling with anxiety or confidence issues around driving.

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/117393454?app_id=122963" width="1080" height="608" frameborder="0" title="STEVE PETERS" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Choosing a type of car to learn in
So here we are, already a good chunk of the way to finally finding a driving instructor that is suitable for your own individual needs. Let’s have a look at the options that are likely to influence you.
Special adaptations needed when learning to drive for those with disabilities
Perhaps the first distinction that needs to be looked at after you decide whether you want heuristic or methodical driving lessons is whether you need any special adaptations to the car to enable you to control it. Or whether you have other special learning needs including being hard of hearing.

Should you need an instructor that has a specially adapted car your first port of call should probably be the Disability Driving Instructors find a specialist driving instructor site.

If you are one of the vast majority of learners who need no extra controls to help you to steer, brake, accelerate, change gear or perform any other task, the main choice that you are likely to make is to choose between driving a car with a manual or automatic transmission.
Should I learn to drive car with manual or automatic transmission
What’s the difference
The manual or automatic transmission is the part of the car that take the power from the engine and transmits it to the wheels. It consists of both the clutch and gearbox.

In an automatic car all you need to do is set the gear lever to drive at the beginning of a journey. It will then take care of all the clutch work and gear changing that is necessary until you come to your destination.

In a manual car you will need to learn to change up through the gears in order to go faster, although once you are over about thirty miles per hour in most cars you will be in the highest gear and no further changes will be necessary until you slow down.
Which is easiest
If you want to have the fewest possible number of driving lessons and therefore take less time and spend less money to get your licence, then learning in an automatic is definitely the way to go. Generally you might expect to take ten to twenty hours fewer, if not more when learning to drive an automatic.

The main reason for this difference in learning time is because an automatic car only has two foot pedals rather than the three found in a manual car. Both types have a gas or accelerator pedal on the right, with a brake pedal to the left of it. A manual car though has another pedal called the clutch.
What makes the clutch tricky to use and increases the likelihood of stalling
The clutch does not work in the same linear way that the gas and brakes do. Linear means that the more you press on the gas the faster the car will go and the more you press on the brakes the quicker it will stop. The use of the gas and brakes can generally be learned very quickly due to their linearity.

The clutch on the other hand has does not work like this. Although the clutch pedal moves about 10-15 cm there is only a distance of 1-2 cm somewhere in the middle of its travel that has any noticeable effect. This portion of its travel is known as the ‘biting point’, although in reality it’s more of a ‘biting zone’.

The use of the clutch needs to be coordinated with your brake, accelerator and gear selection to be properly able to control the speed of the car. Although you don’t have to be very well coordinated to move the car, doing it correctly will make things a lot smoother.
How to make learning to use the clutch easier
Be aware that there is a lot of misinformation about how to change gear in a manual car on the web. Many of the top results in Google for video driving lessons and web pages get the details wrong. So although the car will move, it won’t be smooth. Although this guide to choosing a driving school frequently refers to other sites for further information, because so much is incorrect we have produced our own guide to moving off and changing gear.

Many people who have small feet or short legs and good coordination may still struggle to drive a manual car easily. This is simply because they will not be able to operate the clutch pedal in the most controlled way. This involves having the heel of the foot on the floor of the car, while at the biting point.

Instructors who are aware of this issue can help you to sort it. Many won’t. Those that are aware have devices that can raise the pivot point of your feet. Some may also help by limiting the travel of the clutch below the biting point so that it is easier to get your foot to where it needs to be to take up the drive.
Using the left foot to brake and the right for the gas
Other control issues may arise through dyspraxia and similar conditions. One way to combat such problems is to use one foot on each pedal of an automatic car. Historically, people have been taught to just use the right foot for the accelerator and brake in manual and automatic. The left foot is used only for the clutch in a manual car.

Some instructors frown on this and refuse to teach it. Some even wrongly believe it to be illegal. In spite of what some instructors say, the DVSA examiners’ guidelines explicitly state that there is no fault marked if the brake is being operated by the left foot in an automatic car.

In fact choosing which foot to use on the brakes is regarded as being best practice, in the field of client centred learning that is promoted by the DVSA. According to this, it is for the individual to decide what works best for them. That means that it should be up to you as an individual to choose which foot to brake with.
Am I more likely to pass a test in an automatic car?
If you intend on doing a one week intensive driving course then you have limited time to learn the coordination skills necessary for manual. This is obviously likely to influence the result at the end of the week.

So if simply getting any licence that allows you to get mobile is your goal then the obvious choice would seem to be a ‘crash’ course of automatic driving lessons. Be aware though that government statistics surprisingly show that the overall pass rate for automatic cars is lower than that for manual cars.

The likelihood for this seeming anomaly in pass rates is that automatic tests are much more popular in busy towns and cities, while in more rural areas manual tests dominate. In towns and cities there are many more hazards to deal with every minute. This means that although tests take the same amount of time in rural and urban areas, a driver in the country may only have to deal with half the amount of hazards as one in the city.
Running a car after passing the driving test
If you want to reduce pollution and are intending to get a hybrid or electric car once you have passed your test then you have no real need to get a manual licence as all such cars have automatic gearboxes.

Be aware though, if you do pass in an automatic car then you can’t drive a manual until you have taken another test in a manual, whereas you don’t need to take another test in an auto if you pass in a manual car.

Another thing that you might like to consider is the follow up costs from driving lessons once you are driving either type of car. Automatic cars tend to cost more to buy, whether new or second hand.

For this reason insuring them also tends to be a bit more expensive as the insurer will, on need to pay out more in the event of a claim to replace the car. For typical learner insurance this sum might be of the order of £100 - £150.

Historically fuel costs have been lower for automatic cars, but with advances in engine and gearbox software and hardware design the gap has been substantially reduced. In an urban environment automatics are even beginning to have the edge on manual cars.

When buying a second hand car be aware that there is also likely to be less wear and tear on an auto. This is because it is impossible to damage the clutch or gearbox by bad gear changing techniques. There are of course many second hand manual driving school cars that might have excessively worn clutches due to the nature of their use.

Be aware that these cars will never have the words ‘ XYZ school of motoring’ in their registration documents when you come to buy one. They will have been registered under another company name to prevent their value falling. Should you buy a typical driving school car be sure to research the former registered keepers.

Finally when choosing between manual and automatic it would be wise to look to the future and where the development of cars is going.

As climate change becomes a bigger issue and emissions tests become more stringent, car manufacturers will have to exert as much control over the pollutants that their cars put out as possible.

This means an increasing number will be using automatic gearboxes. With more cars coming on the market the price differential is likely to reduce and automatics will become as cheap to buy and run as their manual counterparts.
What if I need to drive a manual car
There is often an argument used by people, who for some reason want others to drive manual rather than automatic, that if there is only a manual car available in an emergency, you won’t be able to drive it.

Funnily enough, if you check this out on Google there’s not one article of anyone ever being in such a situation. Enough said.

The lesson here is that automatics are the future but manual might still be the right choice for some people.

So that brings us to the end of the section on what type of transmission to choose. Now we’ll move on to discover how the type of fuel that a car uses can have an effect on driving lessons.
What are the differences when learning in a diesel, rather than petrol engined car?
The differences between petrol and diesel cars are only really significant in the 0-4 mph speed range and only in manual cars. To move a car clutch control is used to get the car going from rest and to change gear smoothly. Remember, the clutch is controlled with the left foot in a manual car but is done without any input from the driver in an automatic.

Both petrol and diesel cars can move off by just using clutch control. However, if your clutch control is poor, it is easier to stall the car in a petrol car compared to a diesel. Stalling is where the engine speed is too low and the car suddenly stops. Correct clutch control to prevent stalling can be learned quite easily.

So on the whole the differences are quite small. But, particularly when you start to drive, if you don’t control the clutch with your heel on the floor of the car then the differences are magnified. This is because it is more difficult for new drivers to control the clutch if they don’t have their heel on the floor and it is poor poor clutch control that causes stalling.

After a while people develop a feel for the clutch, and the issues go away. This is likely to take longer though if the heel can’t be kept on the floor. However just as important as the clutch is the smoothness of the gas (accelerator) pedal. Some cars have stiff or sticky accelerator action, which once again can be overcome by developing a feel, but which may cause problems for the new driver.

If you have learned in a diesel and then drive a petrol car after passing your test you may struggle. This will only be the case though if you have learned to rely on the diesel engine to stop you stalling rather than your clutch control. Ideally your diesel instructor will have taught you to move off using the gas and clutch together.

The lesson here is that choosing a good instructor is much more important than the type of engine.
How will I learn best, are hourly or intensive lessons better?
People waste an awful lot of money on intensive lessons by paying deposits of hundreds of pounds to one or other of the so called specialist intensive driving companies that are just booking agencies in the same way that all other driving schools are.

In exchange for these huge deposits, the companies simply put the course that you have requested on a specialist instructor website and wait till an instructor ‘bites’. Once the course has been allocated the specialist has fulfilled their part of the contract. Any issues from now on are between you and the instructor. Quite often the ‘deposit’ for the course is greater than the instructor’s payment for doing the teaching.

If you go direct to an intensive instructor your money will likely go somewhat further, if that’s the way you choose to learn.

As for which is the best way you need to consider other factors in your life that might affect the number of hours you need. With hourly lessons, if you have them after work, you may be tired. If you live in a busy area it may be difficult to find an area that is quiet enough to make things easy to start with.

If you book an intensive are you being realistic about the amount of hours you have booked. If you are doing multiple hours per day will it make you tired or ache?

Course type chooser

The lesson here is that you need to research and think about what your needs are.
Other options for your choice of instructor
Some people will want an instructor of a particular gender. It should be noted that male instructors greatly outnumber female ones. For smokers it may be good to have an instructor who smokes too. That way if you feel you need a cigarette on a lesson you can make it part of the social side of learning to drive. Language can be a barrier to learning for some people. If this is the case be sure to try and find an instructor who speaks your language.

All instructors are regularly checked by the DVSA to see that their teaching skills still meet the minimum standard. Those that do meet the standard are graded either A or B. On a star rating system grade B would rank from 0-2 stars while grade A would rank from 3-5. We offer free instructor training videos as we do learner training ones to try to bring all instructors up to grade A.

It’s a good idea to know the grade of your instructor.The grade of an instructor is less important if they are following our methodical driver training system. This is because their lessons are of grade A quality that you can use prepare and revise.

The DVSA have a service that enables you to find a local instructor but it has few details apart from general location and a contact number. Only about 50% of qualified instructors are on it. There is the option for an instructor to add their grade. Beware that the vast majority of instructor with no grade listed will be grade B.

Here’s a better instructor comparison site that lists lesson price, type of car and engine, gender, intensive or hourly, areas covered, languages spoken, heuristic or methodical teaching style. Some entries will also contain photos and a brief biography.

You could even get a friend or relation to teach you using our recommended free video training course. They may struggle to spot faults as well as a professional, but with our driving test fault analyser it shouldn’t be impossible.

Barriers to learning

See below Starting to drive

On screen tests
Theory
Hazard perception

Starting to Drive
Barriers to learning
Basic control skills
Using the eyes
Steering
Clutch
Awareness and Planning
Driving in traffic skills
Manoeuvres
Beyond Novice
Junctions including Roundabouts
Dual carriageways
The Driving Test
After the test
Barriers to learning
When you finally get around to driving there are a number of barriers to learning that you will have to overcome. These come from a variety of places.
the evolutionary desire to conserve energy
the evolution of our senses
our societal evolution
how words frame our thinking
The ‘curse of knowledge’
The more that you know about these issues the more you should be able to prevent them from slowing your acquisition of new skills.
Basic control skills
There are two aspects to dealing with the controls.
The physical actions you take to use the controls
Using those skills to control the speed and position of the car with regard to hazards

All the control skills covered here are explained to enable your driving to be Comfortable. The controls can be used in other ways to get the car down the road but the results wouldn't necessarily be Comfortable.

Other methods that you see or hear of are more likely to be of the Everyday driving style.

Using the eyes for directional control
When driving you’ll be using your hands and feet on the controls. But the controls themselves are used in response to situations on the road. So your eyes are if fact the most important part of your body involved in controlling your car.

To aid the visual aspect of control many instructors will tell pupils to look to ‘where they want to go’. This is helpful, but only to a degree. There is still a lack of detail here. The instructor is directing you to look in a certain direction. But not to a very specific area.

Some people might look to the foreground. Some to the distance. Some might look to the right place, but then remain fixated on it for too long.

Unless your instructor is directing your gaze to help your positional control, you are going to take longer to learn to drive.
Steering
Steering wheel control
Turning the steering wheel comes naturally to some, but not to others. Unfortunately many people only discover that they are not naturally gifted when they come to the first corner. The resulting actions look like a gibbon trapped in a washing machine. Arms going everywhere, machine carrying on at its own devices.

The easiest way to prevent this happening is to learn how to control the steering before you move. A few minutes of correctly set up stationary steering practice without other things to concentrate on should see you much better prepared before you go out on the road.

Be aware that if you don't set this up in a manner similar to the one shown you may cause damage to the steering. Holding the steering turned fully to the left or right for more than ten seconds or so may also damage it.

Steering direction control
Once you are confident with turning the steering wheel without knotting your arms you can move on to practicing while having the car moving slowly. This is when you begin using the eyes to direct where you are going.

Ideally such early practice should be done in a car park or other quiet area large enough to steer in a figure of eight.

If you are driving an automatic practicing at low speed can often be done without using any of the foot controls.

In a manual the clutch will need to be used. This can either be done by you or your instructor using the dual controls.
Clutch
The clutch pedal is found to the left of the brake. If you have trouble reaching the clutch with your heel on the floor at biting point you can use a device to raise the floor to make things easier as you are learning.

In order to drive a manual car Comfortably you need to use the clutch correctly. Although using the clutch in an Everyday manner rarely prevents people from passing their test. However it does mean that you would probably spend the rest of your life making your passengers journeys jerky.

The clutch designed and included in the car to prevent jerkiness when accelerating and decelerating. So it should not be used like an on-off switch.

It is more like a dimmer switch. In as much as it allows the power from the engine to be infinitely varied, before it reaches the wheels.

If you use the clutch gently when changing gear while accelerating you won't go far wrong.

Conversely, you won't go far wrong when decelerating if you push the clutch down at speeds of around 20 miles an hour, as long as you have changed up through the gears Comfortably. It can then stay down until you completely stopped or are ready to accelerate again.

When maneuvering at low-speed it is not necessary to have the clutch all the way up. It is often easier to control the speed of your car by having the clutch around the biting point. This means that you don’t have the time lag that you would get from moving your foot from gas to brake and back again.

Bringing it up slightly will gently increase the speed of your car as more power from the engine goes to the wheels. Pushing it down slightly means that friction between the tyres and the road will slow your car down.

This doesn't just apply to reversing manoeuvres. It also applies to actions like turning sharp corners. Many Everyday instructors are not aware of this fact. So they will often insist that you always have the clutch all the way up when cornering. While it is often possible to do this as an experienced driver, it is much more challenging for the learner and unnecessary.
Using the gas, also known as the accelerator
The gas pedal controls the speed of the engine. It is the pedal on the right. It should always be used gently. In first and second gear the clutch will frequently be used at the same time as the gas in order to prevent jerkiness.

It is good practice to learn how to ‘set’ the gas in a manual car. This is where you hold the engine at a constant speed of about 1200 to 1500 revolutions per minute (rpm). Doing this means that you can ensure a smooth take off and gear changes.

Once again this basic car control skill can be practiced in a car park or other quiet area before you go out on the roads.
The footbrake
The footbrake is to the left of the gas pedal. It acts on all four wheels. Like all the controls it should be used gently and smoothly at all times, except in an emergency.

To begin with it can seem rather harsh. However a small amount of practice should soon enable you to control it correctly. If you have trouble reaching the brake with your heel on the floor you can use a device to raise the floor to make things easier as you begin.

When braking for a hazard you should normally brake firmly enough as soon as you stop braking in order to stop well before it.

A passenger will only be certain you will be going to stop when you are braking your hardest.
Parking brake
The parking brake is used to hold the vehicle stationary while the brake pedal isn’t being used. If it is applied it will automatically lock on. In some cars the whole action of applying and releasing it is now automatic. In this case there may just be a button on the dashboard to override it.

Many cars though will still have a parking brake between the front seats. To release the parking brake it you should first raise it a couple of millimetres. This disengages the automatic lock. Then you should push the button on the end of the handbrake. This prevents the lock from re-engaging. Finally you should gently push it down until it will go no further.
Gears
In a basic automatic car you simply need to select D (drive) to allow the car to go forward and R for reverse. You should always have the footbrake pressed firmly as you select the gear.

When stopped for any length of time you should select N (neutral) or P (park) if you are exiting and leaving the vehicle.

In a manual car you will need to change gears to enable the car to be driven Comfortably. You should normally change up as soon as the next highest gear will enable the car to accelerate. If you are in too high a gear the car will not accelerate. If you are in too low a gear the car will be very sensitive to the gas pedal.

Many learners drive jerkily simply because their instructor makes them stay in a lower gear for too long.
Awareness and planning
Using the eyes for information

Using your skills to control the speed and position with regard to hazards

Once you have learned how to physically control the car, you can start to put those actions together to change the speed and position of the car on the road to deal with hazards.

For comfortable driving it is best to use the SCAN routine as your general tactic to deal with a hazard. It contains all the tactical elements that you need when driving unlike MSM, which lacks the element of actually searching for hazards on the road ahead.

There are quite a few other safety critical differences between the two.

With MSM any decision to give way to other traffic is frequently only made very close to the end of the sequence. If that decision is wrong it gives little time or space to correct it. Leaving the decision until late in the sequence can also create time stress. Such stress can cause problems switching between tasks.

Also the manoeuvres are not defined. This leaves the learner to struggle to find their own way of doing things for a seemingly infinite number of situations.

The SCAN routine on the other hand gets you to make an initial decision to stop a little way from any hazard as you first see it. This means that you have a simple initial task. This minimises anxiety.

As you get closer to the hazard, you will be able to gather more information as to where the best place is to position your car to move on once it is safe to do so. This approach also allows you the option of extending the time that you take to encounter any traffic hazards. Which means that you can allow any traffic that might hold you up, to pass.

Approaching hazards slowly, rather than rushing up to things and stopping, makes your drive much easier and more comfortable.

Rather than there being a seemingly infinite different hazards, with the SCAN routine hazards are allocated into one of four categories. These increase in order of complexity.

Stopping - staying in your lane and coming to a stop
Slowing - staying in your lane to deal with a change of direction
Passing - changing lane to pass an obstruction
Merging - lane changes with an extra lane in your direction

The approaches used for Stopping and Slowing are identical. The Passing approach is similar but will vary depending on whether the hazard is close to or on a bend, and which way the bend goes.

Ideally you should be confident with these before having to deal with Merging. There will be a number of different scenarios in each category.

Stopping
On the flat
Downhill
Uphill
For Stop lines
For vehicles crossing your path
For pedestrian crossings
For other permanent traffic lights
For temporary traffic lights

Slowing
For directional steering
For right turns into a road
For right turns with a waiting space
For roundabouts

Passing
Stationary obstructions
Cyclists
Slow moving vehicles

Merging
Onto a dual carriageway or motorway
Changing lane on a dual carriageway or motorway
Traffic merging into your lane

Videos that deal with how much to brake and precisely when and how to steer for each hazard can be seen here(LINK TO COME)

Your lessons should progress with regular reference to the Driving test skills competence forms to help you assess your progress.

You should be regularly tested throughout your lessons to help prepare to perform with an examiner in the car. These mock tests will increase in complexity and length until you can drive to driving test passing standard for 40 minutes

Once you are up to standard and understand what is required of you you’ll be ready to take your driving test

The Driving Test

This should be a formality if you are properly prepared.

You can use your own car or your instructors car for the driving test.

make sure that you don't arrive more than 10 minutes early for your driving test as you don't want to clog up the roads or car park where other people may be returning from the previous test.

When you arrive at the test centre park the car in a sensible position that allows you to move off easily.

Then go into the test centre waiting room making sure you have the car keys and your driving licence with you.

When the examiner comes into the waiting room and cause your name identify yourself and give them your licence.

They will ask you to sign a driving test report form so that they can compare your signature with the one that's on the licence that you've given them.

Well then identify themselves and ask you what have you would like to be addressed