Learning to drive is one of life’s major milestones. But if you’ve never sat in the driver’s seat before, it can feel overwhelming. Feeling nervous before your first lesson is totally normal, and your instructor will expect it. That said, there are ways that you can soothe those nerves, and one of the best ways to do so is by knowing what to expect on your first driving lesson.

How to prepare for your first driving lesson

It’s sensible to ensure that you’ve got everything you need before you get behind the wheel. This will help calm any butterflies, and also ensure that you’ve covered all the necessary bases.

Remember to always book with a reputable driving school. Ask around your friends to see how they felt about their instructor, and check for online reviews. Be sure that you can dedicate the time to learning to drive, too – there’s no point stopping and starting lessons, as inconsistent practice won’t help develop your confidence or driving proficiency.

Have a provisional licence

Your instructor will check that you have a provisional licence before you set off. These can be applied for on gov.uk, where you’ll fill out the online form before waiting for the licence to arrive in the post.

Get familiar with The Highway Code

You’ll have to pass a theory test before you can take your practical test, and getting familiar with The Highway Code from as early as possible is a great way to give yourself the best possible start. By knowing the legal obligations drivers are required to follow, as well as being confident on road and driving safety and signposting, you’ll be in a better position to nail your driving lessons and theory test.

Be sensible

Consider what you’re going to wear to your lesson. Don’t wear high heels or flip flops to drive, and ensure that you’re comfortable.

It also goes without saying that you should be well rested, wear your glasses or contact lenses (if required), and never be hungover.

What to expect on your first driving lesson

Once you’ve got yourself ready for your first driving lesson, it helps to know what to expect.

It’s completely normal to feel nervous about it all – your instructor will expect this. They are there to guide and support you. And don’t forget that they have their own set of foot pedals, too, so they can always help with the fundamentals like braking and clutch control if you need it. All professional driving schools use dual controlled cars – don’t take a first driving lesson in a vehicle that doesn’t.

When it comes to driving, practice makes perfect, and you’ll find yourself improving in your ability and confidence over time.

You’ll go somewhere quiet

Your instructor won’t expect you to drive from the get-go. They will check your eyesight by asking you to read a number plate, as well as your provisional licence. From there, your instructor will drive you to a quiet road where you can familiarise yourself with the fundamentals.

You’ll learn the cockpit drill

You’ll need to learn how to adjust items like your seating, steering, mirrors, and headrests so that you are supported, have easy access to controls, and a clear view of the road.

From there, you’ll likely be guided through the car’s functions, becoming more familiar with how to use the handbrake, gears, steering wheel itself, and the clutch. You’ll likely also be introduced to basics like use of your windscreen wipers and the car’s heating and cooling systems.

You will drive safely

Getting to grips with clutch control and use of the brakes and accelerator is best done via practice. Your instructor will encourage you to take your first drive – but don’t worry, you won’t be hitting any high-pressure roads just yet. You’ll learn how to safely move off and stop, and may use the ‘Prepare, Observe, Move’ routine.

You’ll probably stall, but don’t be embarrassed. It’s your first lesson, and making mistakes is natural. In fact, recovering in a safe, secure manner from a stall is a critical step in learning to safely drive.

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