Learning to drive is scary even if you are lucky enough to do it when you are still young. If you’re an adult who is trying to learn how to drive then it can be even trickier.
According to one study, it’s possible for a 17 year old to learn to drive with just 30 one-hour lessons, while a 40 year old is more likely to need around 50 hours. It’s not so much that older drivers learn more slowly, either, but rather that they have more commitments which means that they space the lessons out further apart and struggle to retain information between lessons. In addition, their anxiety about being in control of a vehicle can mean that they struggle to give the lessons their full attention.
A Good Instructor Will Help You Feel at Home in a Car
Some older drivers are so nervous about taking lessons that they consider learning from a friend or family member instead of an instructor. While it can be nice to have someone that you know in a car with you, it is often easier to learn from a qualified instructor who has had a lot of practice explaining things. In addition, you may find that you are more willing to ask those “this might be a stupid question, but…” questions if you are working with a stranger, but feel anxious about making mistakes in front of someone that you know well.
Some people respond well to intensive lessons, because having the lessons scheduled close to each other means that you have less chance to forget things. The best approach is to keep the lessons close together, but keep each lesson short. For most people, one-hour long lessons are good and while you can get a lot out of a two-hour long lesson, anything longer than that is a waste of time and money because your attention will start to wane.
Recommended Reading: Overcome Fear of Driving Alone
Are Simulators Worthwhile?
Some driving schools offer simulators, and these can be useful for people who are very anxious and who have no experience using a bike or motorcycle on the roads. You should not spend too much time in a simulator, though. A couple of lessons in a simulator to ensure that you have a basic understanding of the controls of the car and the rules of the road can be helpful but anything more than that is probably a waste of time and money.
Does Driving School Pass Rate Matter?
Many instructors market themselves based on their pass rate. While it can be tempting to go with a school that has an incredibly high pass rate, that’s metric alone is not a marker of a ‘great school’. Some instructors who have a high pass rate bully or pressure their students into taking extra classes and put them under unreasonable pressure to pass first time. A nervous student does not want to have the anxiety of ‘potentially letting their instructor down’.
A good instructor will accept that some people struggle with tests, and that some people learn at a different pace. Making the learning environment feel safe, comfortable and fun is important, even for adults.
Avoid Getting Locked-In With One Instructor
A huge part of learning to drive is finding an instructor that you gel with. It’s important that you find a good instructor; one that you feel that you can trust and that will be supportive even if you are struggling with certain things. Some parking maneuvers, for example, can be rather tricky to learn, especially if you are feeling stressed while taking them on.
A good driving school will let you book a small block of lessons as a ‘one off’ so that you can get to know the instructor and see if they are a fit. If you don’t get on with them, then they will let you switch to another instructor. Don’t commit to a large number of lessons, and spending a lot of money, unless you are pretty confident that you get on well with the instructor.
If you have friends who have learned to drive recently, ask them who they learned with and what they thought. Take their personality into account. A confident and bubbly person may appreciate a more outgoing instructor, while someone who is a bit quieter and nervous might be happier learning from an instructor that is on the quiet side themselves.
Is it Better Learning from a Male or a Female?
Both men and women can be driving instructors, and it would be unfair to generalize about skill or teaching style. If you have a personal preference, then look for an instructor that matches that preference. A good driving school will try to match you with an instructor that suits you, and if you say you would prefer to learn from a woman, for example, then they should be happy to oblige.
Shop around, and don’t let any school pressure you into signing up with them if you don’t want to.
Do you suffer from anxiety or fear of driving? We highly recommend the Driving Fear 2.0 program for overcoming your driving related anxiety issues when are learning to drive.