Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Learning to Drive as a Twenty-Something
So this month marks a year since I passed my driving test, and as my sister is currently going through the process, I thought I would write a post about learning to drive in your twenties. As a seventeen year old, learning to drive never really interested me. I knew I wanted to eventually of course, but I was in no rush and would have rather spent the money I got from my weekend job on social activities. I never got EMA and my parents didn't give me money, so driving wasn't something I needed or wanted at the time. Fast forward a few years through university where again, I never really needed to drive. When moving back home from uni, I ended up talking myself into taking lessons as it was something my parents wanted me to do and I had adopted more of the mind set of "well i don't need it now but i may as well get it over and done with". Something that frustrates me alot is the whole "i passed first time" mindset. When I spoke to people about passing I had so many say straight off the bat "i passed first time", and its a little annoying. Most people take several tries to pass their practical and while I'm sure those who pass first time are proud of themselves, there is no need to piss on someone else's parade with your comments that can make people feel a little less "worthy". It took 3 attempts for me to pass, so here's my personal experience of learning to drive at 24.
The Theory Test - 2014
After a few months of lessons, I put in for my theory test, which I failed. It was a little bit of a shock to me as I had never failed anything in my life. Annoyingly I got 1 of the questions wrong, but it was the hazard perception that did me. I was too nervous about if i was clicking too much, not enough and ended up failing that section. Straight away I booked another theory and was ecstatic to pass second time. One step done, one more to go. The driving school I was doing my lessons with provided a website for me to log in to and revise for my theory, but there are plenty of smartphone apps out there to use that I found really handy for when I was out and about.
The First Attempt - 2014
A few weeks later I had my practical test which was going fine until the manoeuvre, the dreaded reverse park. I ended up turning too soon and being too far away from the curb, so instead of reversing back abit more to fix it, I went forward, which is apparently an instant fail. Unfortunately (or fortunatly?) that very day I was heading down to London to go and work on a cruise ship so life didn't see me do anything more with driving until 2015.
The Second Attempt - 2016
At the end of 2015 I thought it was about time I started the process of learning to drive again. Mostly because my theory test certificate, which is valid for 2 years, ran out in early 2016 so I didn't want to have to go through that again. I started with a different instructor, as my previous one had no spaces, and honestly it was horrific. He was so discouraging, told me off and I felt like i learned nothing. Luckily my previous instructor, a lovely lady named Emma from Monarch Driving School St Helens, had some spaces open up so I went back with her. I cannot stress how important it is to find an instructor you click with. With Emma I felt so confident and learned so much. So, my second attempt rolled around in January 2016. This was one of those moments I really kicked myself for afterwards. I ended up getting 4 minors in the test, and 1 major, which caused me to fail. I stalled at traffic lights due to being in the wrong gear, something I had never ever done before, and must have panicked because I then stalled again. As there was cars behind me waiting, this apparently is why he had to fail me. The examiner was so apologetic about it and said he hated that he had to fail me as everything else was great, it was just that one silly mistake.
The Third Attempt - 2016
My third attempt was a little different in that I used a service which finds a cancellation for you, as the wait for my area was quite long. How it works is, you book your test through the normal means then sign up to one of these websites, pay £19 and they will find you a cancellation. You can put specific days and times for them to look for, to which they will then send you a text giving you a certain amount of time to reply if you want it. The price you pay is for unlimited searches, even if you fail another test. I ended up booking a test for February, a few days after returning from Disneyland Paris. Third time was the charm for me, and to my relief I passed!
The main issue I had with learning to drive as an adult is the money side of it. I had life to pay for, rent, food etc, and it can be difficult financially to fork out nearly £100 a month for lessons plus the costs of booking the theory and practical, especially if you don't pass them first time. I would really recommend saving for a bit before taking out lessons, it makes things so much easier and takes less of a bite out of your income. The way I see it though, is that you never know what life will throw at you and what opportunities will present themselves to you. As it turns out I had to move back home a few months later, my job being 30 miles away, so being able to drive meant I could keep my job. I was also given a promotion to manage a different site soon after, something I wouldn't have been able to do if i didn't drive. Forking out for a car and insurance straight away was abit crap, but luckily I had some savings and being an adult driver, my insurance was cheaper than it would have been had I been 17. As cliche as it sounds, I now couldn't imagine not having a car, it just makes things so much easier and yanno, Fiat 500s are just the cutest little cars ever!