Driving lessons - regular weekly lessons, or an intensive course?


(Daniel Hollands) #1

The question is pretty much in the title.

I’ve decided that 2017 is the year I start driving, but I don’t know if I should have regular weekly lessons (which I did once before, while at uni, but gave up - after a failed test - to concentrate on university), or if I should do an intensive course, such as with http://www.5day.co.uk/

I welcome any and all comments. Thanks.


(Ben Paddock) #2

Personally, driving is a life skill that shouldn’t be rushed. I hear in Finland it takes 2 years.


(Stuart Langridge) #3

I am interested in this topic since my daughter will be going through it this year too :slight_smile: I personally had regular lessons – first one on January 30th, test passed on November 22nd – but the landscape has changed quite a lot since I did it…


(Dave Adlakha-Russell) #4

I did mine last year - started in May and passed my practical at the end of November. That’s based on a weekly one hour lesson.

It’s worth starting on the weekly lessons rather than an intensive course IMO. As a programmer you already know the value of giving your brain downtime to process things. Also, from a practical side, there’s a hefty waiting time for taking the theory and practical tests. I think I had a 6 week wait for the theory and 10 weeks for the practical. That’s time you might as well spend driving.


(Dave Adlakha-Russell) #5

It’s also worth noting that driving instructors vary dramatically in ability and personality. If you’re not keen on the first instructor you come across then look for another.


(Daniel Hollands) #6

This is a good point. I was keen on just getting it over and done with, as my next major birthday is my 40th, and it’s something I feel I should have achieved already - but you’re probably right.


(Andy Wootton) #7

I don’t think once per week is enough. You take most of the time relearning what you’ve forgotten and driving uses a kind of muscle-memory, so needs practice. I think intensive courses might work if you can carry on driving after you pass.


(Daniel Hollands) #8

I think I used to have a weekly 2-hour lesson - I figured an hour a time wasn’t enough.


(Greg Robson) #9

I think I did an hour a week, although I would say between 60 and 90 minutes once or twice a week would be a good balance - it’s a lot of cognitive load initially until you reach some level of “Conscious Competence” (i.e. you can concentrate on the traffic ahead instead of trying to to find the right gear!) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence

Intensive can be good, but only if you experience all the different weathers in that week! Over a longer period you will get rain, ice, night time, busy traffic, light traffic etc.

As for @pads comment - the Finland driving test covers advanced driving such as drifting, handling cars on ice, snow and various other techniques. There’s a reason they have bred many of the greatest Rally Drivers. I’m sure they would fail on the M25!

I would recommend (if you don’t do it as part of your course), doing a couple of hours on a motorway. After passing I asked my instructor for a couple of hours of motorway driving experience (in the end we turned back after just over an hour). It was good as he was an ex-copper and knew a lot about advanced techniques and reading ahead. Motorways are a step up from dual carriageways!


(Andy Wootton) #10

I think reaching ‘unconcious competence’ on a sufficient subset of skills to allow you to concentrate on the ones that can get you killed is the ‘great leap forward’.

On boxing day we went to the old RAF camp at Marquis Drive on Cannock Chase. We were looking at a model of the camp inside a reconstructed hut when a group of older people all started talking about how they learned to drive on the disused air field between WW2 and the 1960s. I think that would be a great start, just steering and changing gear without worrying about other people.


(Peter Oliver) #11

Two one hour lessons would be better than one two hour lesson, I suspect.


(Peter Oliver) #12

Once you’ve passed your test, do you plan to drive regularly? If you take the one-week course, pass at the end of the week, but then don’t drive again for a few years, will you have the confidence to get back behind the wheel?


(Steve Pitchford) #13

Two one hour lessons would be better than one two hour lesson, I suspect.

Respectfully, I disagree. I used to have two hour lessons and found one of the advantages was that you could drive somewhere or cope with local traffic. With a one hour session you can loose 5 minutes at the start for a chat, 5 minutes at the end, and with a little traffic you can find yourself doing a short trip around the block. Two hours gives you time to get familiar not only with the car and a variety of roads and traffic situations, but also to the area around your chosen test area - the familiarity acting as a bit of balance against the overwhelming stress of the test.


(Steve Pitchford) #14

Once you’ve passed your test, do you plan to drive regularly?

Great point. I used to make a point of renting for a weekend every couple of months or so - really helped keep my eye in.


(Daniel Hollands) #15

The plan is to move into a more rural, area without public transport links, so I’ll be forced to drive.

This is very much a case of me solving a problem as it comes along, one of the reasons it’s taken so long is because I’ve been able to survive without a car quite happily until now.


(Richard Cunningham) #16

I had a 2 hour lesson once a week (the 5mins wasted at the start/end is a good point by @Steve_Pitchford). I would then drive my parents car whenever I could too, either going out for a practice drive with them or just drive whenever we going to the same place, e.g. drive my self to friend’s house instead of being dropped off, or to my job/family outing etc. (with a parent in the car of course). It’s bit different for you, but I don’t know if you have way to do something similar?

I suspect if you already reached the level of doing a test, you’d mostly be practicing to iron out mistakes and grow in confidence.


(Daniel Hollands) #17

While this might have been true 9 years ago, as mentioned above, it’s been such a long time since I did any driving, I’m mostly back at square one. It might all come flooding back, but I don’t want to bank on that.