Whether you’re coming up to your 17th birthday and ready to get on the road, or you’ve put off learning to drive and are struggling to get around, there are lots of advantages to getting your licence. Learning to drive means a great deal of freedom, and means you no longer have to rely on public transport to get from A to B. Many people who put off learning to drive will then remark years later that they wish they hadn’t waited for so long, as it really can change your life. That’s why it’s important to do your research before you learn to drive, and take a few steps to get yourself prepared. Here are a few things to think about before you get behind the wheel.
Apply for your provisional licence
You can apply for a provisional licence up to three months before your 17th birthday, or at any time once you’re over 17. A provisional licence allows you to take your lessons, either with a qualified instructor or with a driver who has held their licence for over three years and is over the age of 21. However, it’s usually best to go with the former, as driving instructors are much better at teaching you good habits.
Study for your theory test
Learning some of the rules of the road will make you feel safer before you get behind the wheel. The theory test covers a wide range of subjects including:
- Road signs
- Vehicle maintenance
- Documents and legal requirements
The theory test changes regularly, so it’s important to get the official, up to date study materials. You can buy a book, or even download an app so that you can study in your spare time, and can book your theory test online for a date that suits you. It’s important to remember that you can only take your theory test once you have a valid provisional licence, so you can’t do it before your 17th birthday.
You can start your driving lessons and get out on the road before passing your theory test, but it needs to be passed before you book your practical driving test.
Find an instructor
While it can be tempting to have a friend or family member take you out driving, it’s often much safer and easier to learn with an instructor. If you will be learning to drive in a big town such as Bolton, which often has a lot of traffic because of its proximity to the M61, then you’ll need someone who can keep you calm and help you deal with difficult situations. Therefore, you should look for driving instructors in Bolton who know the area well, and can guide you through busy areas of town such as the A666 and around the Crompton Place Shopping Centre.
Get your eyes tested
If you want to drive, then it’s important to have clear vision, and your eyesight will be checked at the start of your practical test. Therefore, it’s worth getting an eye test before your first lesson. Your eyes can change a lot over time, and most people have a check up every year. If you’ve not had one for a while, then make sure you get booked in. You should then get up to date prescription lenses put into your glasses, or buy stronger contacts to correct your vision (if you do require glasses of course!)
Look for insurance
If you go through a professional driving instructor then they’ll have a car for you to learn in. However, some people like to buy their own car so they can get used to it, and feel more comfortable driving their own vehicle. If you buy a car to learn in, it’ll need to be insured, and you’ll need to ensure your insurance company knows that you’re a learner. You should also make sure the vehicle is taxed and has a valid MOT.
Learn vehicle maintenance
Part of the practical driving test also includes questions about how to maintain your vehicle. You’ll need to know things like:
- How to check the oil levels
- How to check whether lights are working
- How you should check the brakes
- What checks should be done before long journeys
If you’ll be learning and getting tested in your own vehicle, then you’ll need to know answers specific to your own car. You might have to show the examiner how you’d change the oil, for example, so make sure you know where these things are located.
Check waiting lists for tests
There can be long waiting lists for practical tests in areas such as Bolton, due to its close proximity to Manchester and other major cities. Therefore, it can be worth booking your test far in advance, as once you’re ready you won’t want to then wait several weeks for a slot. If you have trouble getting the day you want, then check the DVLA website regularly, as there are often last minute cancellations. If you’re not sure when you’ll be ready to take your test, then speak to your driving instructor. They will be able to advise when you might be ready.
Learn local geography
Learning a bit about the local roads around Bolton will make it easier when it comes to driving. When you’re being driven around, pay attention to what traffic is doing and where the busy spots are around town. This will help you to learn local geography, and make it easier when you need to get from A to B.
Having a driver’s licence is a passport to freedom, meaning you no longer need to rely on lifts from friends or local buses. However, it can be a difficult process for some people to learn to drive, and they need professional help and guidance. That’s why it’s worth using a qualified instructor, and doing a bit of preparation before you hit the roads. You can then ensure you’re safe on the road from day one, and that you get through the learning process much more quickly and easily.