Learning to drive is an exciting time. There is something special about the freedom driving gives you.
You aren’t constrained by any public transportation schedules and are simply free to hit the open road!
Still, driving, like anything that involves a new skill, comes with a learning curve. But how steep is this learning curve?
Buckle up because this is precisely what we will explore in this article…
Here’s Why Learning To Drive Is Hard
Learning to drive is hard since operating a vehicle combined with having to be aware of everything that is happening on the road can be overwhelming. Since you are still learning how everything works, it is normal to have a million thoughts in your head while driving. Where is the indicator? What did that sign mean again? I have to check my blind spot! This can all be a lot to process when you aren’t used to it. Still, as you gain experience, this all becomes a lot easier and starts to feel natural.
Table of Contents
Learning to drive is challenging because of all of the multitasking you have to do. When starting out, everything is new, and you have so much to keep in mind, from road signs to actually operating the vehicle.
Although it has its challenging moments, don’t get discouraged. The number of motorists on the road should encourage you. It’s not impossible.
All you need to do is commit to the appropriate amount of practice to pick up this critical skill. This can be different for everyone.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes you a bit longer, and don’t compare your progress to others.
Simply keep practicing and working with a driving instructor. They are experienced and will know when you are ready to pass that magical driving test.
Suggested Reading: Can you learn without a teacher?
What Is the Hardest Part of Learning To Drive?
The most challenging parts of learning to drive are multitasking and, if you are operating a manual, timing when and how to change gears.
Research shows that humans actually cannot multitask. In actuality, when we think we are multitasking, we are just switching our attention from task to task very fast.
This is precisely what we are doing while driving. Quickly studying what is happening on the road and reacting accordingly. When you are just getting started with driving and learning, this is very challenging.
With practice, however, it starts becoming second nature and a lot easier.
Another element that can be considered one of the most complex parts of learning to drive is shifting gears. This is only the case if the car you are operating is a manual or stick shift.
Manual cars require you to change gears manually, similar to how you would with bikes that have gears. The main difference is that you have to work a 3rd pedal (the clutch) with your feet and then enter the correct gear according to your speed with your hand.
This is a bit overwhelming at first and requires some getting used to. Your timing and positioning all need to be on point. Mishaps quickly get rewarded with a somewhat embarrassing and jolty stop and the engine turning off.
Automatic cars are far easier to start out with as you can bypass all the manual gear shifting. Still, no matter what vehicle you are in, driving is serious business and will require plenty of practice.
You’re also going to need to know all of the street signs and lines and then how to interpret them.
These issues may not be a big deal for some, and things can come naturally to you. But, there is definitely no need to feel embarrassed if you find it challenging.
Overall, you’ll need to prepare yourself for:
- Learning all of the signs.
- Many sessions practicing steering and gear changes so that things become second nature.
- Multitasking or switching quickly from task to task.
Learning To Drive Tips
Despite the difficulties that come with learning how to drive, I want you to understand a couple of things:
- It’s a skill.
- Like any skill, it is learnable… (even for you).
And, if you follow any of the tips I’ll be sharing with you in this section, you’ll hopefully be able to speed up your progress.
Let’s begin with the first – it’s pretty apparent. Still, it’s the most effective way to improve.
Suggested Reading: Is learning a skill?
1. Get Behind the Wheel… Often
Driving is a psychomotor skill. Like any psychomotor skill, there’s only one way to get better – repetition.
There’s no way around this. To get rid of the anxiety and second-guessing, you’ll have to desensitize yourself to the experience of being behind the wheel.
Your practice opportunities can come in two forms.
Either, you sign up for classes that take place frequently. Or, if you’ve got access to a vacant lot or parkway, you can practice there. Please do this in a safe manner and accompanied by an experienced driver.
Classes like drivers ed are the best way to get practice hours in as the instructors are experts. They will be able to ensure that the environment and situation remain safe.
Either way, driving often will lead to driving better. Do this, and the nerves will take care of themselves.
2. Driving Schools & Instructors
I already mentioned driving schools and their importance in the previous point. Still, it’s worth diving a bit deeper into the topic.
Choosing where you learn how to drive is an essential step. A great instructor will enable you to learn faster, be a safer driver, and make the whole experience comfortable.
Be sure to explore some of the options you have available in your area. Consider pricing, qualifications, and most importantly, if you feel comfortable with your driving instructor.
Remember that you can still switch to another instructor or driving school. Don’t feel like you are tied down. If you don’t vibe well with who is teaching you, the learning process will take longer, and you can get more nervous.
3. Vision & Visibility
A lot of driving consists of reacting to different things you see taking place. To do this effectively, it undoubtedly helps to see everything happening around you.
All cars on the road today have 3 mirrors to help you out with doing just that.
Your driving instructor will walk you through all of this and show you how to adjust all 3 of your mirrors to have maximum visibility.
However, most cars will have some blind spots (areas around a car you won’t be able to see). Still, having the mirrors adjusted to your driving position will minimize these areas.
Also, the center mirror, the one you can use to look directly behind you, has an additional feature. It typically has a lever or a click function that allows you to switch the view between day mode and night mode.
This is great because if you’re driving at night, other cars’ headlights can be quite blinding. This feature allows for a more pleasant blind-free ride.
Another underrated tip is to look further than just the 1 or 2 cars that may be directly in front of you while driving. Just seeing what the car in front of you is doing will give just a tiny window of opportunity to adjust to what is happening in traffic.
Looking further ahead allows you to see and eventually predict likely outcomes. In more compact traffic, you can even look at how the taller cars are driving. You will be able to observe any upcoming curves, hazards, or anything else coming up on the road before it happens.
As you continue to improve your driving skills, you will learn to predict what will happen next. Developing this skill comes naturally with time.
4. Make Things Easy for Yourself
You can make your learning experience easier by making small but necessary changes to your position.
We’re all built differently. For this reason, you can’t expect your vehicle to adjust to your dimensions. Instead, you’re the one who needs to make adjustments.
An excellent place to start would be your seating position in the car. Adjust it to a distance where your hands reach the wheel and your feet can reach the pedals.
Sure, these may sound trivial. But, when you’re cruising at above 50 miles per hour, you’ll need all the ergonomics you can get. This is especially true if you’re already on the open road.
5. Safety: Speed & Keeping Distance
I don’t mean wearing a helmet. But, your safety and that of other drivers is important. That said, you’ll have to learn to drive with safety as your guiding principle.
The most important and easiest thing you can do for safety is following speed limits on all roads. They are indicated in areas for a reason, and that is to keep everyone safe.
Speed limits are also often indicated on roads with a curve. From further distances, it can appear like a curve won’t be too strong of a turn. Still, when you are actually in one, it becomes apparent fast. If you are driving more quickly than indicated, it’s easy to shoot out of it and end up next to the road.
Also, stay alert to how others on the road are behaving. Are the drivers around you slowing down? Also slow down and assess the situation. It could be that there’s a hazard on the road or an accident ahead you haven’t seen yet.
Keeping proper distance is another important safety aspect to keep in mind. In good conditions, the rule of thumb is to keep at least a 3-second driving distance between you and the car in front of you.
You can estimate this by using a fixed object on the side of the road like a streetlight. When the driver in front of you passes the object, count how long it takes for you to pass that same object.
If it’s shorter than a 3-second estimate, give the driver in front of you a bit more space. This ensures that you have enough space and have enough time to react should something happen.
6. Review the Signs
Actually, starting, stopping, driving, and turning a car is not all that difficult. These are all things you will get the hang of pretty quickly.
What is a bit more challenging is doing all of this safely while in traffic and following the different rules.
Make sure to review all of the different road signs and signals. This will cut down on the time you need to think about what everything means, and you can react faster. You need to know all the traffic signs by heart.
7. Work on Signals
Intuitively, we all know the importance of giving fellow motorists a heads up about your intentions. How do we communicate with other drivers? We do this with our signal lights.
Sure, cars may differ. Nonetheless, where the signal light switches are do not differ that much. As you learn how to drive, practice using these lights.
A good opportunity to practice would be during turns and lane switches. Even if you see no cars, flick your signal lights. It’s simply a great habit to pick up.
8. Go Automatic
If you are having a challenging time learning to drive, a surefire way to simplify the process is by switching from a manual car to an automatic one.
The whole point of driving is to get from point A to point B in a safe way.
For this reason, if you are having trouble with a manual, there’s nothing wrong with learning in an automatic vehicle.
An automatic transmission is easier to get used to because there’s no clutch. This means that you only need to worry about the gas and brakes.
You’ll learn to drive without the difficulties that accompany using a stick shift. Ergo, you’ll be driving just the same.
And, because it’s likely easier, you’ll be driving an automatic car in half the time compared to going manual!
Once you have mastered driving in an automatic, you can still learn to drive a stick if it’s important to you. You will probably even be able to pick it up faster since you already know all of the other driving elements.
Also Frequently Asked:
How Quickly Can You Learn To Drive?
The short answer is, “it depends.”
Different learners learn at different paces and rates. The length of time it takes for you to get the hang of driving will differ from someone else.
Learning to drive – whether manual or automatic – can take anywhere from two to three months of classes and practice. However, you can shorten the time by getting behind the wheel often and doubling down on road time.
According to a variety of driving schools, the average driver requires around 45 hours of lessons.
How Hard Is Learning To Drive Manual?
Learning to drive manual is challenging for most people because it requires you to use the clutch (a 3rd pedal) with your feet and then also a gear changer with your hand. This all needs to be timed well. Otherwise, the engine abruptly turns off in lower gears or messes with the transmission at higher speeds.
Driving a stick shift requires a bit of multitasking and an awareness of what pedals you’re manipulating. Indeed, this takes a bit of getting used to.
Nonetheless, it is definitely not impossible to learn to drive a manual. It just requires the appropriate amount of practice, and before you know it, you will be shifting gears in your sleep.
It is a fun and more active way to drive. It can also be more efficient as you have more control over the engine.
Learning to drive is one of the more freeing skills you’ll ever learn. Once you’ve mastered driving, the open road will feel like it is calling you. You are flexible to drive anywhere you like and aren’t dependent on any schedule like you would with a bus or train.
Challenging as it may be, driving is worth an investment of your time, effort, and patience. By following the tips I’ve provided in this article, you’ll be cruising in no time!
In advance, happy motoring, wear your seatbelt, and don’t text and drive!