If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I recently bought my first car and I’m in the process of learning to drive again. I passed my driving test back in 2013. Six years later, I’ve discovered that it’s terrifying being back on the road. My heart rate raises so much that my Fitbit thinks I’m mid workout… It’s safe to say that learning to drive again after such a long time is a massive plunge into the deep end. But if I could go back in time, would I wait to start the process until I knew I could afford a car?
Passing my test
Obviously, times were a little different back when I passed my test. And I’m not going to lie and say I remember exactly what I did to get my pink license, because I don’t have a clue. Though keeping to my true pessimist nature, I remember exactly what I got my minors for.
I do also remember that I felt moderately confident on the road after my 60 hours of driving lessons. But once I was given my license, I didn’t drive again. I went into learning to drive and passing my test knowing that I wouldn’t be able to afford a car on the other side of it. And then it was time for me to head off to university and I was living on campus so there was no point in me having a car.
There are a number of pros and cons to learning to drive again.
The pros of learning to drive again
It’s easier to learn the younger you are
A study done by University of Oxford scientists suggest that adults find learning more difficult than children because their brains store memories differently. With this logic, learning to drive is easier with a younger brain so you tend to pick things up more quickly.
My insurance is a lot cheaper now
When I was sorting out my insurance last week, I was almost gobsmacked at how cheap it was. When I first passed my test I was looking at a figure way into the thousands to insure a car. However, now I have age on my side, live in a slightly nicer area and have a driveway to park my car on. And I think the fact I’ve had my license for a longer amount of time helps.
I know more than nothing
I don’t remember every single thing I was taught on my driving lessons, but I have more knowledge than a total beginner. My first drive in the car was rocky, to say the least. But after some refresher drives my confidence has trebled since that first drive.
Driving lessons were a lot cheaper
A standard hour driving lesson cost me £19 back when I learnt to drive. I booked myself in for a driving lesson last week to give me an extra confidence boost and it cost me £29 an hour. I suppose it’s all relative over the years with petrol prices rising and what not. But as someone who paid for all my own driving lessons and only worked weekend due to being in college, it would’ve been much more of a struggle to afford it at £29 an hour. Of course the more professional driving lessons I have, the more confident I’m going to feel. But how many I have is my choice, there is no legal requirement.
The cons of learning to drive again
You’ve forgotten pretty much everything
Remember the study I mentioned earlier? Well it also found that older brains store information more efficiently so that may explain why I haven’t retained all of the information I picked up when learning to drive the first time round. You know when you have a word on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite remember which word it is? That’s how I felt getting back behind the wheel. I still know all the fundamentals of driving, but it’s like I’m looking at them through an incredibly thick fog.
Other drivers are inconsiderate
Because I know I’m not that confident in my abilities, I have P-plates on the back and front of my car. I’ve come to learn that these are undeniably ignored by other drivers as they continue to get up my ass, beep when I don’t take off quick enough and overtake me when I’m driving the speed limit. Road users are quick to forget what it was like to be a learner driver. They forget how scary it is to be a new driver. Even though they themselves were once in that position.
That being said, I think you’re always going to come up against inconsiderate drivers, regardless of if you’re new or not. But if you come up behind a learner or new driver, please respect that it takes them longer to do things. It’s not necessarily second-nature for them yet.
Trying to do everything at once is A LOT. Mirrors, blindspots, signal, gear, check it’s clear, don’t stall, and the list goes on. When you watch other people drive, it looks so easy! But when you’re in the hot seat yourself, and after some time off, easy is the last word you’d used to describe it. Linking to the point above, not only are you trying to focus on all of this, but you have Eager Eddie revving his engine behind you. The furthest thing from helpful.
You get frustrated by how easy other people make it look
I experience actual envy sitting in the passenger seat of my boyfriends car. He’s been driving pretty much everyday since he passed his test so it’s 100% second nature for him. He doesn’t have to fight to stop the car from stalling and he doesn’t have to call his mum to park the car on our driveway for him. But I know he was once in my position so I know it gets easier eventually!
Top tips for learning to drive again
- Take your time. There is no shame in doing things a bit slower until you get more comfortable behind the wheel. It’s better to set off slowly than to rush, stall and waste more time.
- There is no shame in having a few refresher lessons. Driving with family members is great for building up your confidence but they don’t always know how to teach the methods and techniques that would make it easier. It’d a driving instructors job to make driving easy for you.
- Ask for help if you need it. If you’re in a tough position that you can’t get yourself out of but theres someone around that can, there is nothing wrong with asking them to help you.
- Get as much practice in as you can. The more time you spend driving the more confident you’re going to feel. If you have half an hour to spare then get yourself out for a drive!
- The palming method will be your best friend. It’ll save you from going into 4th gear when you intended to be in 2nd.
- YouTube it! I stumbled across the WorldDriving YouTube channel and it is beyond useful. It takes you through the steps certain aspects of driving slowly. I’m becoming a master of clutch-control once more with their help.
- Believe in yourself. You’ve already passed your test so you know you can drive. Telling yourself you can’t do something only knocks your confidence even more. You’ve got this!
Would I still pass my test when I did?
If I could go back in time, I would still learn to drive and pass my test knowing there would be an imminent break between driving solo. For me, the pressure of not having to start from scratch and undergo a test outweighs the need to refresh my memory a little.
Did you pick up driving as soon as you passed your test? Did you have a break in between? Or are you currently learning to drive at the moment?