Learning to drive basics

Almost 90% of my current learner driver pupil base are absolute beginners, which means that we are currently laying down the foundation skills that will be built on later during their driving career.

Obviously when a learner gets in the car, they just want to get on with it, and drive around, but understanding a few basics and mastering them can actually help you learn and progress more quickly.

During your first lesson, you will have learnt how the controls of a car work, the commands your instructor will use when referring to these controls, you would also have been introduced to MSM (Mirrors, Signal, manoeuvre), POM (Prepare, Observe, manoeuvre), MSPSL (Mirrors, Signal, Position, Speed, Look) and SCALP (Safe, Convenient and Legal Position) either in your first or second lesson. If you take the time to master these without being in a hurry to get out on the main roads, then you will not be frustrated when the time comes that you finally are dealing with junctions and other traffic.

On Monday I had a pupil who had done 4 lessons, we were already on emerging at T Junctions which meant that we would be dealing with more traffic at junctions, but also a lot of moving off and stopping, as the first few times we get to the Give Way sign we would stop so we could make proper observations before proceeding (Look. Assess, Decide, Act). We had quite a few problems, one of them being actually stopping at the Give Way line, most of the times we stopped, the car would stall, because the pupil was late using the Clutch, so I had to stop working on the T Junction and give that some more attention. There were other times when we would pull up on the left, get ready to move off, and I'll stop him because he had not made proper Observations, now I not saying that it is his fault that he is making these mistakes, I'm just point out how important the basics are if you want to prepare properly for the UK Driving test. Particularly when it comes to controlling a car, you'll be surprised how hard it is to remember that the gas pedal makes the car go faster, the brakes slow the car, and if you are heading towards an obstacle you should first SLOW the car down and stop if necessary rather than continue at the same speed fighting with the steering wheel.

It is not about being able to move a car from A to B, it is about moving from A to B safely according to a set standard, and it is thus important that you build up the right habits. Even absolute beginners sub consciously pick up bad habits from someone they been a passenger in the car with, or tend to cut corners because they some much want to get it right, that they tend to act before thinking thoroughly about what they are about to do.

So if you have recently started to learn, make sure you spend time on the basics, and don't think the instructor just wants to stop you from progressing by making you keep going up and down a road. If you consistently get the basics right, you will be more confident when you stop at a junction, because you know that when it is time to move off, you are not going to stall.

When I was learning to drive, there was a roundabout not too far from where I lived, that I hated, not because I had a problem dealing with roundabouts, but because the approach was up a slope, which meant when ever I stopped I had to do a hill start, which I had a problem with! It wasn't until sometime later that one of my uncle's demonstrated clutch control to me, that I conquered that fear (mind you I was not learning with an ADI).

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