Private Driving Practice – 3 Key Areas To Think About


Before we can have any hope of getting a full license, we need a certain number of driving lessons, or maybe practice. We use these to eventually convince our instructor that we’re good enough to pass. Then, during the test, we convince the examiner that we have reached a good enough level to be allowed on the roads alone. Excellent, so what’s my point? My point is whether it is beneficial to do any practice beyond the driving lessons. There are cases both for and against private driving practice. Today, we’ll be looking at 3 key areas.

Before we begin, don’t forget that we are offering 20% off our services for New Drivers. We still have our 10% Refer-A-Friend Offer. Who say’s we don’t look after you?

Taken me a long time to get this close to the kerb. Different people, different standards.
Taken me a long time to get this close to the kerb. Different people, different standards.

Using me as my own example, I had no practice with my family at all when I passed my driving test, many years ago. Once I started my official tuition, I had to settle for 16 hours of lessons, a few hours of cramming for the theory, and a test that took place on a rainy Sunday morning. So there was nothing to hit. I think that’s the only reason I passed!

For me, practising with family may have meant simply more arguments in the car about how best to complete given manoeuvres. When one is trying to learn, you want a united message or aim. Otherwise it will just lead to confusion and a lack of progress. And I had already decided that I was going to pass that summer. I spent a long time studying for the theory, confirming how a car’s controls interact with each other. I am of the belief that if we can more easily appreciate how something works, we are likely to use it more effectively. For me, this certainly paid off. All the five driving tests I have taken (practical and theory) I have passed at the first attempt. I’m including motorcycling in that number, although today we are focusing on four wheels.

Bad Habits
A popular phrase among many is to tell people that practice makes perfect. I would say that this largely depends on what you practice in the first place. So if your instructor has taught you a particular manoeuvre, and you go home and try it out in a completely different way with your family or friends, this could be costly. And it might not be fully correct, from the viewpoint of passing the test.

It is likely that they will have reached a point in their driving where they are doing it subconsciously. Therefore they will naturally teach you to drive in the same manner that they currently drive. If their car has parking sensors, they may have become lazy in checking mirrors. They may cross their hands when turning the steering wheel. They may lean on the clutch too much, or leave one hand on the gear-stick while driving. All of these are factors that they will have to consciously get rid of in order not to undo your official teaching. And that is where things can get a bit tricky.

When you’re learning to drive, for most people it will help if as many variables as possible are kept constant. You’re learning to drive, and hopefully pass the test in one car. Unless your family or friends are particularly organised, any private practice you receive is likely to be in a different car. This car may be a different size, have different weights to the controls, and have a different biting point. Whether you see this as an advantage, or an extra source of confusion is up to you.

For me, my instructor actually changed driving schools half way through my lessons. This meant I spent the first few weeks learning to drive in a Ford Focus, and the second couple of weeks with a Vauxhall Corsa. So inevitably, the first session driving the Corsa, I was leaving far too much space for other cars, because I had been used to driving something noticeably larger. There was an adjustment period, which fortunately for me wasn’t too long. But there was only one.

When adjusting to a new car, there's a tendency to play safe and leave extra space
When adjusting to a new car, there’s a tendency to play safe and leave extra space

If you’re constantly chopping and changing between two vastly different cars, then one of two things may happen. Either, you’ll become a master of adjustment, or you’ll become more confused and risk applying the wrong sort of driving to the wrong car. One can walk this tightrope, but it might be making life more difficult than necessary.

I’ve written most of this from the viewpoint of the person learning to drive, but what about those offering the private practice. Is it something that you feel pressured into offering? Do you feel comfortable providing that teaching, or does it make you question your own driving ability? I would be interested to find out more, so join the family, and let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

What are your thoughts?