Most people learn to drive with either a private driving instructor or with a driving school. You typically hit the road once or twice a week, trying your hand at manoeuvres and getting to know all the awkward driving spots in your local area.
There are, however, a few other ways you can start learning to drive. From intensive courses to driving simulators, here are a few ways to get on the tarmac you might not have considered.
Having a lesson once a week or once a fortnight is the standard way to learn to drive. Many learners fit their practice in at evenings and weekends, but intensive courses offer the ability to do several months’ worth of driving all in one week. Whether you choose to cram your lessons in-between lectures or during holiday breaks like Christmas, Easter, and summer, there are courses to accommodate all.
Five-day courses are the most common, though you can also do two, three, four and six-day courses. It’s up to you whether you want to try and learn everything there is to know in a week, or just spend a couple of days perfecting the basics before switching to regular ongoing lessons.
Just like ordinary lessons, you can take intensive courses either in manual transmission or automatic cars, depending on which you plan to drive in future. Do remember that if you get a licence to drive manual vehicles you’ll be able to drive automatic too, whereas if you only qualify for an automatic you’ll need to take another test to drive with manual gears in future.
Learning with a family member or friend can be a great way to learn to drive. You’re not limited to a certain time frame as you are with a driving instructor, meaning you have the freedom to take as much time as you need. Sure, it can be stressful at times, especially if your passenger is an overly protective parent who winces every time you approach a roundabout – but it can be very beneficial. For instance, if you do learn with a parent, sibling or friend who is fully licenced, insured and owns a car, you can gain driving experience without having to spend money on official driving lessons.
Better yet, if you have your own car and you’re eager to get on the road, there are specially designed insurance policies for learner drivers available. These policies can give the peace of mind that if any damage were to happen to the car while you were driving, you’re covered by the correct type of insurance.
From hazard perception mock tests and road sign quizzes, to 3D driving lessons, there are plenty of free as well as paid apps designed to help you learn the essentials of driving.
As well as being able to test your theory in an easy and accessible way, there are also apps available which tackle the more practical aspects of driving. One example of this is, 3D driving lessons. The app offers step by step 3D/HD videos of all the manoeuvres you’ll need to know. From learning the basics to mastering manoeuvres such as parallel parking and turn in the road, the app acts as a great revision tool for all the practical elements of driving. It’s available on android and iOS devices.
Another app worth looking into is Sim Drive, the UK’s first interactive driving lessons and mock practical test app. The app offers real-life driving routes centred around London, making it a great tool for those wanting to tackle real road challenges outside of their driving lessons. The app is available on iOS devices only and costs £4.99 to download. There are also in-app purchase options available which range from 99p to £9.99.
Ideal for those who are nervous about driving on public roads, driving simulators have all kinds of handy uses. If your uni is based in a busy city with congested roads, driving simulators enable you to start learning vehicle controls, and can help you get to grips with extreme driving situations and collision avoidance techniques.
Driving simulators are perfect for picking up skills that can be applied to driving in real-life situations and increasing your confidence before you get behind a real wheel. In some instances, you’ll be able to use a simulator complete with steering wheel and pedals, while cheaper options you can use at home include PC virtual reality with digital instructors.
Simulations place you in ordinarily dangerous situations without physically endangering you – meaning hazard perception, vehicle handling and correct following distances can all become second nature before you set out on real roads. Some simulators are designed to mirror the driver’s side of the car and can include intricate details such as an ignition key as well as a steering wheel and brake pedals. These can cost thousands, where as a home-sized set up with pedals, gearstick and steering wheel can be as little as £150, with cheaper DVD-only options starting at less than £50.
All of these alternative ways to learn to drive can be as fun as they are confidence-boosting. No matter whether it’s your first experience or a little something to liven up your routine as you prepare for your test, trying something a bit different could help you to become a better driver in the future.
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