What Happens In Your First Driving Lesson?

by EzLicence Last updated


Ever wondered what actually goes on in your first driving lesson with a professional instructor? Whether you’re nervously anticipating your first lesson, thinking about booking one or just plain curious, we’ve got all the answers you need. 

Read on to discover what you can expect on your first driving lesson with a licenced instructor and for some first-driving lesson tips to keep in mind for the big day. 

How to Prepare for Your First Driving Lesson

Before you turn up, there are a few things you need to get in order. Here are some things we recommend you do before hitting the road with your instructor for the first time. 

Provisional Licence

You need a provisional driver's licence that allows you to legally drive on the road with a supervisor over the age of 21 before your first driving lesson. You can apply for a provisional driving licence on the GOV.UK website, then once you've passed the theory test, you're ready to get behind the wheel!

Appropriate Clothing and Footwear

Wear comfortable clothes that make you feel relaxed and at ease during the driving lesson so that distractions are minimised. As for footwear, opt for an enclosed shoe that properly fits for your safety. Wear flat shoes with no chunky soles or high heels, as these make it difficult for you to feel the pedal.

Bottle of Water

Staying hydrated is important, particularly when you’re feeling nervous on your first driving lesson. You need to stay alert and hydrated throughout the lesson so you can concentrate properly and focus on the task at hand. 

Be Aware of The Highway Code

Make sure to read up on the UK road rules before you arrive at your first driving lesson. Being aware of the rules heightens the safety of you and your instructor, as well as ensuring that the lesson is spent on learning the specifics of how to operate a car rather than turning into a theory lesson on road rules you should already know from the theory test. 

What to Expect for Your First Driving Lesson

Many learners are anxious to know what they will be doing in their first driving lesson. Below are the main points that are typically covered during first driving lessons, so that you can go in knowing what to expect.

The Cockpit Drill

One of the first things your driving instructor may teach you in your first driving lesson is the cockpit drill. The cockpit drill is a series of checks that drivers should conduct every single time they get into the car so they have good visibility and all the safety precautions have been taken before take off. Here is a quick rundown of the cockpit drill:

  • Doors: Check that all doors are properly shut by looking at the door light on the dashboard.
  • Seatbelt: Fasten your seatbelt and adjust the length if necessary so that it fits tightly without pressing uncomfortably. 
  • Seat: Adjust the driving seat straight so that you are at a comfortable distance from the steering wheel as well as the pedals. If you are in a manual vehicle, pump the clutch a few times with your foot to ensure that it easily reaches all the way. 
  • Mirrors: Adjust the rearview mirror and the right and left side mirrors to suit your eyeline so that you have optimal visibility from the driver's seat.
  • Steering wheel: Make sure that the steering wheel is the correct distance from you so you can comfortably operate it and ensure its position doesn’t obstruct important readings on the dashboard like the speedometer. 
  • Hand brake: Before take off, ensure that the handbrake is on. This is to avoid rolling when the engine is started. 
  • Gears: Similar to the handbrake, check the gear your car is in before starting it. If in an automatic, the vehicle should be in the park gear. In a manual car, you should be in neutral before starting the engine. 

Safe Driving Space

The good news for nervous learners is that in the first lesson, your instructor won’t throw you in the deep end straight away and get you out on a busy road. Instead, you will begin your first drive in a quiet road and or other safe driving environment like an empty car park or back street. 

Your instructor will never force you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with, so even if you are feeling worried about driving in a quiet place and aren’t ready to operate the vehicle just yet, speak up. 

How to Control the Car

One of the most important things that your instructor will cover during the first lesson will be how to effectively and safely control the car using the brakes, accelerator, clutch and gears. Some common things you’ll learn how to do can include (depending on manual and automatic transmission):

  • Turning on the engine: Your instructor will show you how to turn on the engine of the car properly.
  • Changing gears: If you are learning how to drive in a manual transmission car, this is a key control that your professional instructor will run through with you before you drive on the road. They will show you how to change gears using the clutch and get you to practise gear changes while the car is parked.
  • Stopping and starting the vehicle: To start moving the vehicle, you’ll learn to use the accelerator pedal, which is on the right side. To brake, use the left pedal in an automatic, and the middle pedal in a manual. 
  • Using the handbrake: The hand brake is used for parking, and your instructor will help you learn how to use it. The hand brake is also useful for hill starts in a manual car (but you probably won’t be doing these on the first lesson!)
  • Using the clutch to pull away: Finding the right balance in the clutch and accelerator is the most difficult part of learning how to drive a manual transmission vehicle at first. Much of your lesson will be spent practising pulling away using the clutch if you are driving a manual car. 

Tips for Your First Driving Lesson

Take Your Time

Even though being on the road is exciting and you might feel that you want to do everything you can to be zooming on the highway ASAP, it is important to remember that learning to drive is a process that takes time. You can’t rush the process, and undertaking driving tasks that are beyond your ability level too early on puts you and others at risk on the road. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If you are unsure of anything, speak up and ask your instructor. You may feel embarrassed, but there is no reason to hold back - when you are operating a high-speed vehicle, there is no such thing as a stupid question! Remember, it's not a driving test, it's a lesson.

Find the Biting Point

Learning how to take off in a manual can be tricky for new drivers. To find the biting (taking off) point, follow these steps: 

  • Depress the clutch fully with your left foot and select first gear. 
  • Position your right foot on the accelerator, keeping it steady.
  • Gradually release the clutch until you feel the engine engage and slight movement, then maintain your foot positions.
  • Don’t let yourself get too frustrated. As a new driver, discovering the biting point takes practice and patience.

Choose the Right Driving Instructor For You

Still need to find a driving instructor to take you out on your very first lesson? Don’t look any further than EzLicence. We match you with the perfect driving instructor in your area, allowing you to compare the services of professional driving instructors in your region. 

All of the professional instructors listed on the website are equipped with the skill and knowledge required to give you an incredible first lesson - allowing you to walk away feeling confident and satisfied.

Don’t wait any longer, book a driving lesson with EzLicence today and discover the joys of your first driving lesson!

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do on a first driving lesson?

In your first-ever driving lesson, an instructor will get you into the driver's seat and run you through the controls of the car and all of the basics you’ll need to know before hitting the road. Then, most instructors will get you to practise simple manoeuvres like starting the car, taking off and changing gears in a quiet space like a car park or back street. 

How many driving lessons do you need to learn to drive?

There is no magic number of lessons you need to take to get comfortable behind the wheel. Every individual is different, and some learn faster than others. The more lessons you take, the more skills you will pick up and confidence you will gain over time. 

Are 2-hour driving lessons better than 1?

For some people, 2-hour lessons are optimal as they allow an extended time to get into the groove of driving and being on the road before the time is up. It is important to ask yourself whether you do better concentrating for long periods or shorter intervals when choosing to book a 1 or 2-hour lesson, especially if you are in the early stages of learning how to drive.

About the author


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