By The Acclaim Team on 28th July 2023 in News
As you prepare for your first driving lesson, it’s natural for nerves to begin to creep in. What should you expect? Will you and your instructor get along? Will you be confident enough to get behind the wheel for the first time?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Every year, tens of thousands of new learner drivers take their first step towards more freedom, independence and, hopefully, a successful driving test result. But before you get there, your first lesson awaits.
Many prospective learner drivers, current learners, and even driving instructors have experienced those butterflies in their stomachs before getting behind the wheel. So how do you prepare for your first driving lesson and how do you effectively manage your nerves to make sure your lesson is a positive experience?
Whether you're a nervous beginner or someone looking to help a loved one ease into the world of driving, we've got you covered.
Understanding driving test nerves
Before we look at some tried and tested tips and strategies to help manage your driving lesson nerves, it’s helpful to understand why we feel these nerves and why they are such a common occurrence. When stepping into the unknown, it’s natural to feel some levels of anxiety, but some people may find themselves more nervous than others.
Here are some of the most common reasons for why you’re feeling nervous before your first driving lesson.
Fear of the unknown
For most beginners, the driving lessons represent an entirely new experience. You're about to take control of a vehicle in real traffic situations for the first time, and the unknown can be intimidating.
Pressure to perform
It’s likely that you have people keen to hear about your lesson and encourage you on your way towards passing your test, be that friends, family or a loved one. This can lead to an elevated sense of expectation and pressure to perform, particularly if they have already passed their tests or are seasoned drivers.
Worrying about safety is natural. Driving involves potential risks, and it's important to take the responsibility seriously. However, excessive worry can lead to nerves. It’s important to remember that your instructor will never put you, or themselves, in a dangerous situation.
If you or someone you know have had negative experiences in a vehicle before, such a car accident or even a near-miss, it can increase the nerves for your first driving lesson.
So what can you do to manage these nerves and have the best possible experience throughout your first driving lesson? Here are some tips for preparing for your lesson and managing your nerves before and during your first time behind the wheel.
Preparing for your first driving lesson
Choose a reputable instructor
Knowing which instructor is right for you can be a challenge in itself, and picking the right one can make a world of difference during your first driving lesson. Make sure you properly research instructors near you and choose a fully qualified and experienced driving school or driving instructor who understands the nerves that come with learning to drive and is able to provide an encouraging and supportive environment to help you succeed.
Familiarise yourself with the basics
It’s always helpful to get to grips with some of the basics before your first lesson. You can find resources and videos online that can help you to understand how a car runs and introduce you to the basics of operating pedals, gears and steering, giving you a better idea of what to expect.
Talk to your instructor
Don't hesitate to communicate your nervousness to your driving instructor. They've guided countless learners through their first lessons and can provide reassuring advice. A caring and considerate instructor can make a world of difference in easing your nerves.
During your first driving lesson
Try to relax
Easier said than done sometimes, but the key is to take deep breaths and remind yourself that it's okay to be nervous. Everyone has to start somewhere, and your instructor isn’t there to judge or ridicule you. Try to stay calm, listen to instructions and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure.
Take it step by step
Many new drivers are keen to advance as quickly as they can, but it’s important to concentrate on mastering the fundamentals first and learn at your own pace. Your instructor will guide you through starting the engine, steering, braking, and accelerating. There's no need to rush; learning to drive is a gradual process.
Managing driving lesson nerves
While everyone will experience different levels of nerves when it comes to their first lesson, there are a few things you can try that have been proven to help alleviate some of those butterflies.
Get a good night’s sleep and stay hydrated
Fatigue can make your nerves worse, and dehydration can impact your cognitive function. Try to get a good night’s sleep before your first lesson and drink plenty of water, taking a bottle with you if possible, to help keep you alert and focused.
Set small goals
It can be useful to have something to work towards to encourage you before and during your lesson. This might even be as simple as sitting in the driver seat or driving your first few metres successfully. Setting small, achievable goals can help give you something to focus on, rather than getting overwhelmed by the experience as a whole.
Talk about it
It’s okay to be nervous, and you can guarantee that the people around you who have been driving for years also felt the same way before their first lesson. Talk about how you’re feeling with your family, friends and importantly, with your instructor. Communicating your feelings and concerns, even ones you think may sound silly can take a huge weight off your shoulders.
Managing driving test nerves is a common challenge, but it's one that can be overcome with preparation, practice, and a positive mindset. Remember that your first driving lesson is a significant step towards gaining independence and life skills.
At Acclaim Driving, our experienced instructors are here to support you every step of the way.