How underage driving can help you pass your test
Getting behind the wheel before your 17th birthday could be a big help toward passing your test. But be careful, because just like Spiderman found out, with great power comes great responsibility.
For most of us, getting behind the wheel for the first time normally involves a small hatchback, many L plates, dual controls and an instructor sat to our left. It’s a stressful introduction to the world of motoring, often littered with stalling, too much shuffling of the wheel and general unease.
This is not what you had in mind, right? You want to be a natural. A whizz at the wheel, the king of the clutch, boss of the brakes, not a jabbering mess. Well, there is a way around this, and that’s to get behind the wheel before you hit the big ‘one seven’.
We’re not suggesting you go full ‘GTA’ with your Mum’s Clio. She wouldn’t like that. What we are suggesting is looking at one of the many ways in which teenagers can get familiar with the automobile, which should make learning more fun, more relaxed and fundamentally, easier. Here are a couple of examples:
KartingThis one is fairly obvious, but one that you should consider. Yes, a go-kart is a million miles away from an actual car, but it’s still a valuable learning tool. To anyone fresh behind the wheel, any car is powerful. It will be more powerful than anything you’ve ever had control of. As such, you need to respect it. Karts are a fun way to build that respect. You’ll learn the importance of brakes, your feet will learn how to operate quickly and without fuss and you’ll build an understanding for how much input is needed when turning, when slowing and when going flat out.
Young Driver CoursesShopping centres are usually built with far more parking spaces than they need. That means there are swathes of open tarmac available to drive on. This is something that clever business types have cottoned on to, and it benefits you.
A quick search of the internet for ‘young driver course’ should bring up an array of places where, from the age of 10, you can get behind the wheel of a real car and be taught to drive. On a closed course and under careful instruction, you’ll get to experience what every motorist does, setting you up for the day your provisional licence arrives. How cool is that? Those options are open to the budding motorist from a very early age. If you’re a bit older, maybe you have your Provisional licence already, there are more avenues that can be explored to further strengthen your motoring abilities. Here they are:
Learn in an older carMaybe you’ve scraped together enough money to buy your first set of wheels? If you have, why not go for something a bit older? You could even go for a cult classic. Not only could this have a positive impact on your insurance, it will also give you a better understanding of the car. Modern cars are smart and full of tech. Some even park themselves. This isn’t conducive to learning.
An older car will be much more hands on and mechanical; you can get a feel for how it operates. Biting points, accelerating, changing gear – they will all feel more involved. Learning to drive doesn’t have to be in an instructor’s brand new car. It can be in your own car, which leads us on to...
Learn with a family memberOnce you have your Provisional, you can get insured on your own car provided there’s an adult (who has passed their test and has plenty of experience) in the car with you while you drive. This can be a great way of learning, or at least getting in some extra practice in addition to formal lessons with an instructor. A family member could offer more emotional support and, as a bonus, you won’t have to pay them! Doing this could set you up for the lessons that will eventually lead you to passing your test. Just make sure you choose the right family member, your mad uncle John with 9 points on his licence might not be the best bet.
Exposure to one, or all, of these alternatives will be a huge help to getting you on the road. However, none of them will guarantee a pass when it comes to the test. There is no secret to that, no quick fix or loophole. It is all down to you. Being a master of the go-kart will not make you a master of the A38. Driving around an empty car park will not set you up for a cross-country road trip. What will, quite simply, is good old fashioned practice and instruction. The world out there is a mad, crazy place full of cars and people trying to go about their business. You need to embrace that if you want to be a better driver. So, learn the highway code, practice your theory test online, watch the roads and other drivers while in the car with someone else, and get as much practice in as you can. Do that, and you’ll be in pole position come test day.
We might all want to be Lewis Hamilton, but even he had to do his homework, despite being a karting master by the age of 11.