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What to expect on your first driving lesson

Your very first driving lesson is a big milestone! It’s the first step to becoming a safe and independent driver and everything that means for you; whether it’s freedom to spend more time with friends and family, the key to unlocking your dream career, or realising those long-held road trip dreams.

But, as much as you will be brimming with excitement about the journey ahead, you may also be feeling some nerves and uncertainty – what exactly will the first lesson be like, and is there anything you can do to help prepare for the big day?

We’ve put together this quick guide to make sure you get into your instructor’s car feeling cool, calm and collected.

What do I need to do before my lesson?

There are a few things that are necessary before you start your driving lessons – and if you’re learning with How-2-Drive, we’ll have checked these with you before you are booked in for your first lesson.

Generally, you must be 17 to start lessons and you must have a provisional driving licence – you can apply for your licence before you turn 17 though, so you can be ready to go as soon as your birthday arrives, if you like.

When you book your first lesson with us, we’ll send you an email confirming

  • when your lesson will take place, who the instructor is and where they will pick you up from
  • details of how you can pay for your first lesson
  • instructions on how you can share your driving licence details with us (so we can check you have a valid provisional licence).

Is there anything else I can do to prepare?

Although it’s not a requirement, lots of pupils like to get ahead by using the tutorials in our free learner driver guide. These are great for using alongside your lessons – both in preparation for new skills you’ll learn and to refresh what you have learnt after your lessons.

You can start lessons before you’ve passed your theory test, so any preparation for both driving lessons and the theory test will be helpful, starting, for example, with familiarising yourself with the Highway Code.

Remember, learning the laws of the road and memorising road signs isn’t just to tick the box of passing the theory test, it’s practical information that you will need to apply when you’re actually on the road.

What do I need to bring to my lesson?

We ask all our new learners to bring their provisional driving licence photo card as well as their driving licence information (which we will have given you instructions about in your confirmation email).

You also need to bring your payment for the instructor, as well as anything you’ll need to be able to feel comfortable for the lesson. This includes sensible shoes for driving. You’ll also need to bring your glasses or wear your contact lenses if you need them to be able to read a number plate at a distance of 20.5 metres.

Also just bear in mind you are going to be in the car for two hours, which will of course fly by as you’ll be having so much fun. Make sure you’re fed, watered and feeling rested, and definitely not hungover or under the influence of any alcohol or drugs.

What happens in the lesson?

One of the common questions we get is, will I be able to drive the car in my first lesson, and the answer is yes! We’re not like some driving schools, where instructors keep their pupils parked up at the side of the road for the whole first lesson, looking at paper resources. You’re with us to learn to drive, and the best way to do that is to get you behind the wheel.

We’ve heard about instructors offering super cheap lessons to entice learners in, but then trying to recoup some of the cost by not using any fuel; which is very unfair on the pupil!

Don’t panic though, your instructor won’t expect you to just jump in and set off down the high street straight away. You’ll be guided through the process at a pace that is comfortable for you, and your first driving experience will be away from traffic in a suitable location for getting to grips with the controls.

Your first lesson will include looking at things like the cockpit drill, which covers everything you need to do each time you get in the car before starting the engine, and practice moving off and stopping. Exciting for your first time driving!

One thing that will definitely happen when you start driving is you will stall, probably a lot. But don’t worry, it still happens to the best of us, even after years of driving. And if you do make mistakes, remember your instructor has dual controls, so they’ll have control of the car should anything go wrong and they need to step in.

When you start lessons with us, you’ll also be given a Learning to Drive handbook, which will stay with you through your lessons to test day and track your progress.

What if I don’t enjoy the lesson?

Starting anything new can be daunting, maybe even a bit overwhelming. While many people absolutely love their first lesson and can’t wait to keep going, some people inevitably feel a bit wobbly about the experience.

It’s key to take driving one step at a time. Your instructor doesn’t expect you to know everything on day one – just because you’ve spent years as a passenger or even have a great understanding of how a car works, this doesn’t mean you’re expected to just pick it up in no time.

What eventually becomes second nature starts as a series of awkward manoeuvres in which you will have to keep reminding yourself where each foot and hand should be at any given time, and where your eyes need to be while you’re working all that out. And of course different people will struggle with different parts of driving; there is no ‘normal’ pupil or way to learn.

If you aren’t looking forward to your next lesson and need a bit of reassurance, don’t be shy about talking to your instructor about how you feel. They’re not just there to give you advice on carrying out manoeuvres, they’re working with you to become an all-round safe driver, which means feeling comfortable and confident whenever you climb in the car.

Next steps

Ready and raring to go with your first driving lesson? You can get the booking started now or get in touch to find out more. Any questions or worries at all, just let us know!

Want to give someone else the gift of their first step to freedom? We have gift vouchers for their first two-hour lesson, from just £25, or for any value to cover the number of lessons you want to give a loved one.