Sunday, February 7, 2021

Practical driving test - ten top tips

 It's  one of the most stressful events of your life, its up there with moving house. The driving test. You've spent a number of hours practising for this day, how can you minimise the stress to help achieve that all important pass?

I have put together ten top tips to help you keep those nerves under control. Everybody starts their driving test with a clean sheet, lets keep it that way!

1. Stay calm, breathe, don't think of the what-ifs, just focus on the task at hand.

I can't stress this enough. Take each minute as it comes. Stay focussed, deal with the task at hand and forget about what the examiner is doing. They will encourage you to relax and concentrate as best you can. The more you relax and get into the swing of it, the more you'll enjoy it and the quicker the time will pass.

The examiner will introduce themselves and may engage in a little conversation to help put you at ease. You are welcome to listen to some music to break the silence, the volume must remain low though.

If you think you've made a mistake, try to forget about it and move on. You cannot change what has happened but you can affect what happens later.

2. Don't change the way you drive

The examiner wants to see you drive as you drive with your instructor. Don't be tempted to drive under the speed limit "because my Dad says its safer", keep making progress. They want to see you fit in with other road users. Do not make anyone slow down or stop unnecessarily, swerve or swear. Be courteous and respectful to all road users.

3. Remember your observations

I lose count of the number of times I remind pupils to check their mirrors. Its easily overlooked but its crucial the mirrors are checked. Remember to always check your mirrors before changing speed or direction and before giving a signal. Constantly check your surroundings when performing a manoeuvre. Check, check, check!

4. Don't be afraid to ask

If you are unsure of what you are being asked to do, don't be afraid to ask your examiner to repeat the instruction. It's far better to double-check rather than take a guess at what it is you're being asked to do.

5. Know the speed limits

Be sure to gather all the information you need - be aware of speed limits, obey all road signs, all the clues are there. Remember its your responsibility to stay within the law and practice safe driving - for life, not just to pass your driving test.

6. If in doubt, hang back

If you are unsure whether its safe to emerge from a busy junction, hang back. Only proceed when you feel it is safe to do so. If its takes longer than usual to enter a busy roundabout, so be it. Don't proceed if it isn't safe 'just because we were waiting ages'.

7. Don't panic if you take a wrong turn

The driving test is a test of your driving ability, if you take a wrong turn - providing you do it safely, there's no need to panic. It happens when under pressure.  Your examiner will guide you back onto the test route.

8. Take a shunt on a manoeuvre if you need to

If you feel your manoeuvre isn't shaping up as you'd like it, you always have the option of correcting it. Remember to take your time and to be aware of your surroundings. If the examiner remains quiet when you have finished your manoeuvre, use this as a hint - maybe they feel you haven't quite completed it satisfactorily.

9. Keep a safe distance

Always leave a safe travelling distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Take into account the weather and road conditions. Give larger vehicles more space on roundabouts and when changing direction.

10. Be polite, courteous and calm

Your examiner will let you know your test result as soon as you return to the test centre. Give them the chance to explain their feedback, be polite and remain calm if you do not get the result you hoped for. Raising your voice will not make you look good and will result in an awkward drive home. Remember, despite the stereotypical hard-nosed reputation, they are only doing their job.

Good luck!

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