Getting Started

Your Provisional Driving Licence In The UK

You cannot start to drive a car until your provisional driving licence has been accepted and in your possession. If you are in receipt of the higher rate of disability, you can start to learn how to drive when you reach your 16th Birthday otherwise you will have to wait until your 17th Birthday.

You can apply for your licence up to 2 months before your licence is due to start. But you MUST NOT drive on the road until your licence has arrived and not until the day of your 17th birthday.
You can apply for a moped provisional licence when you are 16, but you have to take and pass the CBT test before you are allowed on the road.

If you have never held a driving licence before you will need to apply for a provisional licence. You must complete driving licence application and photocard application form D1(available from most post offices) and the appropriate fee.
The new D1 form, will have an area in the bottom left corner for you to attach your photograph a list of fees can be found with the application.

If you do not wish to send your identity documents through the post, a premium service for checking photocard applications is available at selected post office branches. Your application can be checked for accuracy and completeness and your identity documents returned to you immediately. A fee applies to the premium service and is in addition to the standard driving licence fee for applications sent direct to DVLA.

More information about licensing requirements can be found in the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) leaflet D100 "What you need to know about driving licences". which is available at Post Offices. Other information can be found at this website.

Some learners have a natural aptitude for driving, relate well to their instructors and find the process exciting and enjoyable – hopefully you’re going to be one of them. However, many of us have times when we hit rough patches. When that happens it’s easy to feel as though you’re the only person ever to have struggled or worried that you’re never going to make it.

We will provide guidance on understanding the learning process and making the most of your lessons from the very first time that you sit behind the wheel till the final polishing up of your skills before your test.

Before setting off
The right footwear is vital. Heels are best avoided as it’s difficult to get the leverage you’ll need to operate the pedals. And boots or trainers with thick soles aren’t a good idea either as it makes it difficult to feel the clutch bite. Trainers with thinner soles are fine though. Avoid flip-flops because they can slide off too easily. And don’t drive without shoes.

Medicines

Before taking any medication, check the label to make sure it doesn’t affect your ability to drive. For example, some hayfever and cold remedies can promote drowsiness, as can certain anti-depressants. If you’re using an over-the-counter remedy then consult the pharmacist for the right option and in the case of prescribed medication, talk to your doctor.

Your first few lessons
These will probably be spent in quiet locations getting to grips with the car.
‘There are two aspects to driving, ‘Car control and roadcraft, and they’re completely different things. Car control is learning how to handle the car itself – stopping, starting, parking and so on. Roadcraft is dealing with everything that’s happening on the road – such as other vehicles, roundabouts and hazards. If a pupil takes 60 lessons, then 8-10 will probably involve learning about car control and the other 50 will be roadcraft. It’s very important to get on top of controlling the car before you hit the heavy traffic, otherwise the student has too much information to process at once.’

Car control is a lot to take in initially – it’s a physical process which requires a new range of conditioned reflexes, response times and hand-to-eye co-ordination skills. Even a simple procedure like moving off involves dealing with the clutch, gears, handbrake, indicators and checking the mirrors.

The first stages of learning a skill are the most difficult because you’re still at the stage where you have to remember everything – the knowledge is in the conscious part of your brain. However, as it’s more ingrained it becomes subconscious and automatic, and the space freed up in your conscious mind means you’re more able to pay attention to what’s going on around you on the roads.

Just the two of us
Many learners find they feel really self-conscious during their lessons and loathe the sensation of being watched by their instructor all the time.
This is perfectly natural and is partly down to the fact that being tutored in a one-to-one situation can feel so unfamiliar. Most of us are more used to being taught in classrooms where there’s the opportunity to blend into the background and try to figure problems out for yourself if you prefer.
But don’t worry if this makes you uncomfortable - hopefully you’ll relax as you become familiar with the situation.

Get the timing right
Schedule your lessons for when you’re at your most fresh and receptive to learning. Mornings are best for many people - there’s a Chinese proverb which says ‘an hour of instruction before noon is worth two hours after it’. Though obviously disregard this advice if you don’t fully wake up till lunchtime.

Start preparing for your theory training
It’s a good idea to start preparing for your theory test from your first few lessons. When you’re driving along it can feel as though there’s a tremendous amount to take in and understanding the road signs and markings will help you feel more on top of things. Theory DVD, PC CD-roms, Highway Code, Books are available through us.

Practical driving test route
Most centres have between 16 and 22 routes, with the exception of very rural areas. The routes are designed to be equal in terms of difficulty – a mixture of easy and more challenging junctions, right and left crossings and so on. However don’t let knowing them allow you to become complacent – driving examiners can change the route in response to roadworks or traffic jams and take you off in a completely unexpected direction and your lessons may not cover the exact same route.

Invest in some learning aids
Some companies, have developed DVDs and PC-ROMs which show tutorial sessions, we would advise that you read the highway code fully which is combined within your theory test. Let us know if required we have all relevant training aids available.

Enjoy the learning process
Learning to drive is an active process and the more you engage with it, the easier it will be.

Studies have shown that people learn more effectively when they’re happy and relaxed so you owe it to yourself to make your lessons positive experiences. How you do that is going to depend on your personal situation, follow these points:

• Speak to your driving instructor if your having difficulties
• If you’ve got a perfectionist streak and tend to beat yourself up when you don’t get everything right first time, then see this as an opportunity for learning to be less hard on yourself.
• Focus on the aspects of driving you do enjoy.
• Recognise learning to drive as an important rite of passage and give it the respect and attention it deserves. Watching the traffic as a passenger, chatting with other learners, using positive visualisation will help stop you ‘closing down’ around driving when the going gets tough and keep you actively learning.

Information from the Department of Transport and Driving Standards Agency:
Research shows that learners who have a combination of professional instruction and private practice do better at the driving test. On average, those who pass have had 47 hours of professional instruction and 20 hours of private practice.