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Start learning - what to expect...

Sun 22nd Jan 2017

Without going into too much detail, I thought it would be helpful to outline what to expect when you start learning with Fit2drive. For this article, I'm assuming a learner that has never driven before, or has just minimal experience.

Lesson one

The initial part of the first lesson deals with the Cockpit Drill. In this I explain what to do when you get in the car, how to set up the seat and steering wheel etc. to drive comfortably and safely. The next part is about the controls. This introduces the foot pedals and explains what they do and how to use them. After this is the hand controls (ie. steering, gear lever , handbrake and indicators - ancillary controls can wait!). Having explained what's what, we then go into further detail about how to combine hand and foot controls and establish the routine for moving off and stopping. Key to this is making good use of the mirrors and looking all around - known as making effective observations.

Lessons are usually 2 hours, so in most cases, you should be driving, changing gear (up to second gear at least) and stopping safely. If there is time, we often go on to practice uphill/downhill starts and get a feel for clutch control. On the uphill bit, this is basically playing with, finding and holding the car on the 'bite' (also referred to as the 'bite point').

Lesson two

After recapping and revising stuff from lesson one, we then go on to explore how to do simple left and right turns and emerges. This is in a quiet area where there's little traffic, so it's all fairly relaxed and unhurried. Depending on how things go, occasionally we drive to Bury (or Ipswich/Capel St. Mary if you're based around Hadleigh).

Lesson three

By this lesson, if we haven't gone there already, in most cases we'd drive to Bury (or Ipswich etc.). This means you get used to open road driving, use of gears, and car control at speeds up to 60mph. We also see how engine braking is a good thing and how and when to use it. Forward planning, road position and references are all covered too. When in Bury, we pull over and I drive to a safe, manageable area so you can practice a greater variety of turns and emerges.

So that's a little summary of lessons 1-3 for many pupils. However, it's important to remember that there is no expectation or pressure to do more than you feel comfortable with. Driving is not one skill; it is a coordinated flow of physical actions, any one of which can be damn hard! These actions must be combined in sequence, whilst acting on what you see all around you, and trying to follow a complicated set of 'rules' as well!

However hard things seem (and the early stages have the biggest hurdles!), don't be hard on yourself! It's important not to compare your progress with anyone else. Don't ever think about giving up, but just focus on the fact that you WILL get it!