First experiences of driving
My first experiences of driving were on our family holiday in France or Spain, go-karting. The most exciting place was racing on the main go-kart track adjacent to the famous Le Mans 24-hour circuit in France. I normally did OK and sometimes beat my dad who can be very competitive!
The only other driving I had done was at the Silverstone Classic a few years ago when the Porsche Circuit was opened up to under 15s. That was great fun and my parents were amazed that I could drive a car with gears after about three minutes of tuition! We also went pretty fast – or so it seemed.
Despite enjoying those early outings I hadn’t really thought much about learning to drive until other people in the sixth form started having lessons and more and more pupils could be seen studying for the theory test in the library.
As I began to approach my seventeenth birthday I thought I better do the same!
Starting driving lessons
Once my provisional licence arrived in the post it all seemed a bit more serious.
My dad then set me up for some lessons. I guess I was a bit nervous before my first lesson and had to check with my dad which pedal was the clutch and brake!
But as soon as I met the instructor, Mark, he set me at ease. In fact, he even remembered me from Silverstone a couple of years earlier which was nice.
A busy first lesson
I was quite surprised what I got up to in my first two-hour lesson. In fact, I’d got used to using gears, we actually went on a dual carriageway and navigated quite a major roundabout.
I was pretty pleased when I heard Mark telling my dad that I had a good road sense and positioning, and that I’d done really well on my first lesson.
Practising with family and friends
Although my mum and dad both have pretty big automatic cars, my dad managed to borrow a Seat Ibiza which I found really good to drive and meant that I could practise between lessons with my parents.
The first time going out with my dad was a bit different to my normal lessons. We tended to stick to local residential roads close to home. There was one junction where I could practise a hill-start and after a few attempts I seemed to get it right.
There were a few things that my dad said he learnt differently. This was things like, he would change down through the gears whereas I was taught at certain speeds it is OK to go from fourth to second.
However, it was reassuring that he agreed ‘If Mark has told you that, then he is right’. He seemed pretty pleased with my progress and it helped my confidence to go driving between lessons.
After several more weeks I also started going out with my mother and fairly regularly gave lifts to my school-mates for the five-mile drive to the station. Again this gave me confidence when I heard my mates say that I was a decent driver.
Taking my test
When the day came I don’t know who was more nervous, my dad or me, and we were both ready far too early.
After waiting a while, my examiner called my name and asked if my instructor was there. I said no but my dad was. And that was it, the test had begun.
During the test
Once I pulled out of the car park I felt fine and the nerves died down a bit. We went on a variety roads throughout the test, including some country roads. I also had to follow directions from a sat nav.
I was then asked to perform a parking maneuver. It took me two attempts to get 100% straight which I later found out cost me a minor which was annoying as I’m a bit of a perfectionist!
The rest of the drive went okay, although I did also have to navigate a motorised lawn mower which decided to block my path on the road!
Passing with flying colours
I thought I had driven pretty well but there is always that element of doubt. Did I look in my mirrors? Did I change gear at the right times? Did I take too long to overtake the cyclists?
Luckily, the examiner put me out of my misery and told me I had passed. What a relief! Both Dad and I were very pleased.
Being able to drive just makes things easier and means that in the evenings I don’t have to rely on my parents for lifts.
I’ve gone from riding go-karts to a proper car and enjoyed the ride along the way. My instructor was great and I have already recommended him to a couple of friends.