The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

7 Tips on Learning How to Drive a Car for the First Time


Did you know that there are anywhere between 1.4 billion and 2 billion drivers in the world?

It’s true. Driving is an unfortunate necessity anywhere that isn’t a major metro, and that means that more people are learning how to drive a car for the first time every day. Is it your turn to get behind the wheel?

Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, getting on the road for the first time is stressful. It’s normal to be anxious! We’re here to offer you some advice so you can become a confident driver.

Read on for our top tips for learning how to drive.

1. Be an Observant Passenger

Learning how to drive starts with observing other drivers. Sure, it’s best to learn by doing, but you can’t “do” before you watch.

Before you even start learning on your own, watch how the person driving the vehicle that you’re in drives. Don’t mention this to them at first as you want to see their natural driving behavior. Keep in mind that many people aren’t exactly perfect drivers, so this behavior is going to be an example rather than a guide.

After some time has passed, talk to the driver about observing them. They can explain what they’re doing while they’re doing it, and they’ll likely pay more attention to their own driving. It might feel strange, but don’t be afraid to take notes.

You should also observe other drivers on the road. Knowing common road conditions and how other drivers behave will prepare you for becoming a defensive and observant driver in the future. Remember, a practice track can’t prepare you for the highway.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Re-Take Driver Training Classes

You’re going to have to take a class before you start driving regardless of whether you’re an adult or a teenager. It’s easy to “go through the motions” while you’re in class, but try to be attentive so you can learn as much as possible.

This class is going to teach you how to be a good driver. While you won’t use all of this information while you’re on the road, it will prepare you for emergency situations and basic road safety. Again, take notes.

If you’re still confused after you’ve taken the class, you can take another class. Instructors want you to be ready and no one will shame you for trying to get more information.

3. Find the Right Guides

Before you start driving, you’re going to want to practice with another person in the car with you. Make sure that you pick the right person.

If you don’t know anyone personally who is a good driver, you may be able to find a driving instructor that will work with you from start to finish. Ideally, though, there will be someone in your personal life who is able to teach you.

When you’re making your decision, consider whether or not the person is qualified to help. How many tickets do they have? Have they been in an accident recently?

If you realize that your helper isn’t aligning with your needs, there’s nothing wrong with finding a new one (or driving with multiple people).

4. Start Slow (It’s Not a Race)

Getting behind the wheel for the first time is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. Most people want to get onto the highway right away, but it’s not a race. Take it slow so you can stay safe.

Most people start in large and empty parking lots. Try to choose a time when no one is in the parking lot. While people aren’t supposed to drive around in business lots, most business owners understand that learning to drive is a special exception.

Once you know how to drive straight, stop, check your mirrors, and adjust your speed, you can move onto back roads. If you live in a major city, this can be difficult and you might have to stick to neighborhood streets. If there are no back roads available, ask your driver instruction school where they would recommend practicing.

Eventually, it will be time to get on the highway, but you shouldn’t do this until you’re ready to stay up-to-speed with other drivers. Remember, part of being a safe driver is keeping pace with other drivers.

5. Know the Basics

Both for your overall safety and for your inevitable driver’s test, you’re going to need to know the basics of road safety, traffic laws, and your car. You’re even going to know a few things that you’ll almost never use while you’re on the road.

Look into your local driving laws and make sure that you have a solid grip on them. Memorize any and all common signs and concepts that you might encounter at some point, even if you won’t need them in your area. For example, you should know what to do at a railroad crossing even if there’s no railroad crossing near you.

6. Study (And Then Study Some More)

Knowing the basics isn’t enough. You’re going to have to study (and then keep studying). Lucky for you, studying for local driving tests is easier than ever with the abundance of online resources available.

Look for study guides for your local area. Each state, country, province, and region has a study guide and practice test. For example, you can find a basic region-specific driver’s practice test for Toronto (click to visit website).

Study guides aren’t exactly like the tests, but they’ll give you a headstart.

7. Remember That Failing Is Okay

It’s normal to fail your driver’s test the first time. You might even fail it twice. Keep in mind that failing is common and it doesn’t mean that you’re bound to be a bad driver in the future.

Instead of taking your failure personally, use it as an opportunity to further your education. When you fail a driver’s test, you’ll see your blindspots.

Learning How to Drive a Car for the First Time? No Problem

You’re sure to have some anxiety when you’re learning how to drive a car for the first time, but almost everyone goes through this experience. If you use these tips and pay attention to the road, you’ll be a confident driver before you know it.

Remember: everything is scary when you first start it. Get behind the wheel and conquer your fear.

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