Frequently asked questions
What happens on my first lesson?
Its a great question and understandable that you will be nervous, well dont worry I wont be getting you to drive along the high street during rush hour :)
When I pick you up you'll be getting in the passenger seat to start with, while I take you to a quiet place for you to get to grips with the basics. The 1st lesson is called the 'controls' lesson.
When you've arrived at a quiet road with low traffic, I will ask you to switch seats so you're in the driving seat. Weird, huh? I will then explain the cockpit drill to introduce you to the checks you'll need to do every time you drive.
The cockpit drill or DSSSM:
- Doors securely closed?
- Seat in a comfortable position?
- Steering position established?
- Seatbelts on?
- Mirrors adjusted?
Next, you'll get a run-through of the clutch, accelerator and brake; how to use the handbrake and indicators; and how to change gear. Don't be afraid to ask if you can run through the controls again because you'll want to be sure when you're suddenly doing 20 miles an hour and it feels like 120. Don’t worry too much though - I will talk you through everything as you go.
Ok so next its time to drive. Before you start the engine, I will explain a few key procedures:
- Moving off: getting ready to use your gears
- Clutch control including finding the biting point
- Checking your mirrors and blind spot
- Signalling with your indicator
- Changing gear
- Stopping the car, covering the brake and the clutch
- Curb side parking
Once you get going, try to relax and remember that I have their own set of controls so you can focus on learning without being scared. If you get the chance, do move out onto the road so you can experience ‘proper’ driving. You won’t regret it!
After your lesson I will drop you home once your time is up (unless you do better than expected and decide to drive home, it does happen). Well then have a chat about how you found the lesson and anything you think you need more work on next time.
Ideally, you should have 2 or 3 lessons a week to minimise time between lessons so you don't forget what you're learning. But don't rush and dont stretch your budget. Everyone learns at their own pace and it's important to be fully prepared when you take your test..
How many lessons will I need?
The table above shows the average lessons it takes within certain age groups but to be honest there is no hard and fast rules. I have had pupils pass 1st time after just 29 hours and others that take considerably more. The national average is 47 Hours with an instructor and another 22 with family and friends making a total of 69 hours. The important thing is this, we will go at your pace and cover all the syllabus when you are ready to deal with it.
My parents only took 10 hours. Why is it going to take me so much more?
Driving in the 80s When I was taught to drive it took me 10 hours to pass the test.
- Reverse parking was not taught.
- There was no Theory test.
- There was no hazard perception test.
- There was no independent drive section.
- There were no show me/tell me questions.
- There were no / very few bus lanes.
- There were no red routes.
- There were no / very few cycle lanes.
- There were no advanced stop lines.
- Cyclists were taught cycling proficiency at school.
- Pedestrians were taught the Green X Code.
- There were more police enforcing driving standards.
- There were less vehicles on the road.
- Hardly any parked cars.
- I never heard the term "road rage"
- There were no speed humps, 20 zones, build outs or other traffic "calming" measures.
- As far as I remember other drivers gave me space and time while I was learning.
- There were less / no mini roundabouts / double mini roundabouts.
- Roads were better maintained with signs and line markings you could actually see, and pot holes had not been invented.
- Supermarkets were not open 24/7 and closed on Sundays so you could always use their car parks for some initial practice.
-The test only lasted about 20 minutes.
would dad pass now? Ask him
Do I have to do 2 hour lessons?
Of course not but I recommend them. At the start of each lesson there is a period of remembering what we did on the last lesson and it takes you time to 'get back into it' especially if your lessons are once a week. Also, by the time we get to a suitable practice area for your lesson valuable minutes have been taken up. With 1 hour lessons for example we could take half an hour to get there and back then a further 10 minutes going over a brief before we even start. This could leave you with only 15 or 20 minutes to practice the new skill.
Why do I keep stalling?
Here's what causes stalling:
1. Your engine needs a certain number of revs to keep ticking over (about 600 to 1,000 revs per minute (rpm))
2. When you're at a standstill, your engine is running at about that rev count - cool, fine
3. BUT if you let the clutch up too fast, the force of it will slow the revs to below what your engine needs to keep ticking over.
4. The engine doesn't get the revs it needs, so it cuts out - that's what 'stalling' a car means
5. I hold to the saying "Accelerator provides the power, clutch controls it" remember that and you wont go wrong.
How to stop stalling
Stalling itself isn't a problem as long as you know how to deal with it quickly and safely.
1. When the car starts to judder, dip your clutch and add more power (gas pedal) If your engine does cut out, you may need to put your handbrake on to secure the car
2. Turn your engine on again
3. Find the bite, set your gas (about 1500 rpm) ready to go
4. Do all-round observation including your blind spot
5. Handbrake off - away you go
Finally there's nothing wrong with stalling
As long as you deal with it the right way. Tell yourself over and over: everybody stalls sometimes, stay calm. The more you accept this, the less you'll flap when you do stall the car - meaning you'll deal with it quickly and safely, then get on your way. I stalled myself the other week, it happens to the best of us but I'll deny I said it if you tell anyone ;)
Do I need my provisional before I start?
Quick answer, Yes! You cannot drive a vehicle until you have a provisional licence.
Can I bring someone with me on my lessons?
Yes you can, as long as they do not interfere with the lesson. I have no problems at all with you bringing a 'chaparone' on your lesson. I often make this part of the lesson as its best to get used to having extra people in the car when you have your instructor there to highlight some common pitfalls such as distractions and peer pressure.
How do I apply for a provisional driving licence?
Click on this link and it takes you the DVLA web site or GOV.UK Click Here You will need to provide a passport photo with your application just so we can all laugh at it :)
When should I do my theory test?
I can help you to prepare for your theory test after your very first driving lesson, and can then give you all the support you require to pass this. All my pupils get access to theory test pro free of charge.
When should I do my driving test?
I am using a method called coaching and CCL(Client Centred Learning) teaching skills so you should know if you are ready or not, you should have a date booked but it is always advisable to do a mock driving test 4 weeks before the real date, that way you know what you are in for. Mock tests are planned into your syllabus so you will definitely know if you are ready.
I've been with another instructor can I still get the pass guarantee?
Unfortunately not. The pass guarantee applies to brand new drivers only as I can be certain that all necesary skills and considerations have been covered and that no 'bad habits' have been introduced.
What happens if I cancel a lesson?
As long as you give me a minimum of 24 hours notice you can change your lesson time and day without any issues. I do however request as much time as possible so that I can fill the time slot with another pupil to cover my costs. If you are unable to give 24 hours notice then the lesson must be paid in full at the earliest opportunity (usually on your next lesson if you have not pre-paid).
Can I make block bookings?
Of course you can. I offer 10 hour blocks at the moment saving you approxiamately 10% on the hourly lesson price. Call for details.
How can I overcome nerves on test day?
In order to combat the driving test nerves, it’s essential that you feel confident BEFORE you put in for your test. You have to believe that you can do it, and just remember your instructor wouldn’t have recommended you apply if they didn’t think you were good enough!
Practise makes perfect when dealing with driving test nerves
Make sure that you have practised all the manoeuvres and driving routines that you could be tested on in your exam plenty of times before your test. This will help you to feel much more confident and help to banish those driving test nerves.
The worst thing that can happen is that you start your driving test uncertain of a particular manoeuvre and the examiner then asking you to complete it. This will not help your nerves! If you are struggling on a particular manoeuvre ask your instructor to spend more time on it, or take a look at our practical videos.
Help and support to combat driving test nerves
Ensure that you have your instructors support. Talk to friends and family about your nerves and anxieties and see if they can offer any advice. You can also join our friendly community over on Facebook where you can interact with thousands of other learner drivers who are all in the same position.
Can herbal remedies help with driving test nerves?
Certain herbal remedies such as Kalms can be helpful for some people to help calm driving test nerves. Make sure that you read the label thoroughly and remember that you will need to start taking these a couple of weeks before your test.
Can breathing help with driving test nerves?
It may sound strange but breathing exercises can be very useful to help combat driving test nerves. Simple deep breaths whilst focusing on your in and out breaths will help to relax and sooth any nerves that may be brewing.
Can Bananas help with driving test nerves?
You may have heard instructors and learners recommending that you eat a banana before your test. They are full of vitamin B which will help to calm your test nerves. The main reason for this is that they contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into seratonin, the ‘happy hormone’.
Can distraction help with driving test nerves?
It’s recommended that you arrive at the test centre with plenty of time to spare on the day of your test. However, sitting in the waiting room before your test begins is often where most people begin to feel the real nerves kick in. Take along something to read to help distract your attention or why not try the breathing exercises to help keep you calm.
Pretend you’re on a driving lesson to help combat driving test nerves
If the idea of sitting your driving test sends you to jelly, try to think of it as an ordinary driving lesson, but you’ve simply got a replacement instructor in the car. So long as you remember everything that you have been taught and you drive to a high enough standard, you will pass!
Hints and Tips from other learner drivers to help banish those driving test nerves
Here are some hints and tips from other learner drivers about how they overcame driving test nerves:
Think of all the good times that you’re going to have when you pass your test
Imagine that you’re a taxi driver and you’re taking someone home and have to follow their directions.
Chill out with friends before your test to help relax
Chewing on chewing gum
Bach’s rescue remedy pastilles
Have a positive attitude – “I will try my best but if I fail then at least I’ve tried”
Don’t have a big meal before your test – it will make you feel sluggish and tired
Ask your instructor to sit in on your test – a familiar face in the car can make you feel more at ease
Don’t tell everybody when your test is!
Eat a bowl of porridge before your test
Listen to music before and during your test (as long as its not too loud to hear the examiner give instructions)
Speak to your GP
How much will my test be?
At the moment (January 2018) the test costs £62. This covers the examiners time on the day of the test but DOES NOT COVER use of the car or the lesson the hour before. The day of your test you will need to pay for a DOUBLE LESSON which gives you 1 hour before your test, to go over any areas you are concerned about for example parallel park, and car hire for the test itself.
If you like you can take your own car but there are some criteria that must be met. Your car must:
be insured for a driving test (check with your insurance company)
be roadworthy and have a current MOT (if it’s over 3 years old)
have no warning lights showing, for example, the airbag warning light
have no tyre damage and the legal tread depth on each tyre - you can’t have a space-saver spare tyre fitted
be smoke-free - this means you can’t smoke in it just before or during the test
be able to reach at least 62mph and have an mph speedometer
have 4 wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg
How do I choose a driving instructor?
Choosing a driving instructor is a very personal and sometimes troublesome endeavour. Here is a few pointers to help you decide.
All driving instructors must be registered with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). Instructors can be an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) or a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI). A PDI who satisfies basic criteria and a criminal record check is awarded a trainee licence – a pink permit or badge which should be displayed in their vehicle’s window. An Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) will display a green badge in their vehicle's window.
Your first stop should therefore be
here. Choose an instuctor who agrees to the CPD. These instructors have indicated they are committed to the voluntary Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme. Also choose one that agrees to the ADI CoP. These instructors have agreed to abide by the ADI Code of Practice.
Beginning 7 April 2014, instructors are given one of the following grades following their assessment:
A grade (85% or over): an overall high standard of instruction
B grade (60% or over): a sufficient level of competence
Fail (less than 60%): an unsatisfactory performance.
Undefined means the insructor has not yet been assessed as they are newly qualified or in their first few years of instructing.
Type of car is also important, make sure that the instructor has a dual-control car (one with an extra set of pedals for the instructor to operate from the passenger seat) which is either manual or automatic, depending on your preference. Beware an instructor with a flashy car as they may be using it as a 'magnet' for attracting students. A good instructor can deliver a compelling lesson in any car.
Don't appoint an instructor based on price alone. If an instructor’s hourly rate is considerably lower than other instructors in the area, you should find out whether they intend to increase the price later.
Many driving schools and instructors will offer a discount for booking several sessions at once, including me, and paying for them in advance. While it can save money, wait until you’ve had a few lessons before you commit to a non-refundable 'block booking' (my block bookings are refundable as long as they have not been left unused for a month or more).
Ask them about their teaching method?
This question, arguably is the most important. The driving instructor's teaching method must be aligned with the best way in which you learn. Some people learn best by being told what to do, some want to dive in and learn from their mistakes whilst some will learn only if they feel like it's a partnership. Some like to learn as they go whilst others want to know everything with a briefing or a video/app and the specifics before attempting something new.
A driving instructor's teaching method is what will decide whether or not you learn quickly and successfully. It will be the difference between looking forward to driving lessons and dreading them. It isn't price or deals that decide the outcome. So pay attention to the answer to this question. Remember, your driving instructor will usually be somebody that you spend at least 35 hours with over a period of several months to a year! This is an important relationship that will define your skills and confidence in driving for the rest of your life. Do not take this decision lightly. Don't let price dictate who you choose. This is your choice. Another important tip is to make sure you have approximately 3 to 5 separate lessons before committing to a block booking. Only commit when you have 100% faith in your instructor and they have 100% faith in you.
A reputable instructor will answer any questions you have relating to their terms and conditions and qualifications. If they dont give you a straight answer then walk away.
Questions you might want to ask could include any of these:
What is covered in the first lesson?
Should I book an intensive course or longer term lessons?
What’s the average number of hours most pupils need?
Do you have dual controls?
Do you have any testimonials / reviews?
Are you CRB checked?
I have special requirements (confidence issues or special needs), how can you accommodate this?
What car will I be learning to drive in?
Can you help me with my theory test?
How long have you been teaching?
What’s the best part of your job?
What qualifications do you have?
If we don’t get on, what is your refund policy?
How long are the lessons?
Where will I be having my lessons?
Are you DSA approved?
Are you knowledgeable on the local test routes?
Will I have the same instructor each lesson?
Can I take driving lessons when pregnant?
In a crash it is important to reduce the primary risks to your baby. Hitting the bottom of the steering wheel, minimising your forward movement and letting the air bag operate as intended. You should position yourself correctly and review and modify your position as you get bigger. Move your seat as far back as is comfortable/effective and tilt it slightly away from the steering wheel. Try to be 25 centimeters from the steering wheel, making sure the steering wheel is tilted toward your breastbone rather than toward your abdomen. If your baby gets too big to position yourself correctly for effective, safe driving, if you can't fully control the pedals because of your bump, you need to consider stopping your lessons until after the birth.
Pedal extenders are not an option for sitting your test and would be considered a modification to your vehicle for the purposes of the test. Big soled shoes, higher heels or a cushion on the seat are available options but you must be in full control of the pedals.
Wear your seatbelt properly. Official advice states that the belt will have no adverse effects on a normal pregnancy. When pregnant, the lap belt should be secured below your baby, low and snug on your hipbones. Never wear the belt across or above your belly. Always use the shoulder belt, which should fit snugly between your breasts.
As you get bigger, it’s important to keep healthy circulation, particularly in your legs, take regular breaks even if just for a couple of minutes, so you can stretch your legs. Toilet breaks are relatively easy to plan in a lesson so you can do both at the same time.
Fill up before hitting the road. It is not just the car that needs fuel. Eat before you leave the house and maybe pack a snack for the lesson (2 hours). Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. It helps reduce distractions due to pangs and fatigue.
Try and pass your driving test before the third trimester. Although there is no hard and fast rule, many women stop driving around 30 weeks. This may be because of advice received in regular check ups. If there is the slightest problem with your pregnancy the doctor will advise you to stop driving. I have found roughly 50% of pregnant women are advised to stop driving in the latter stages of pregnancy by their GP. This is after they have already spent alot of money on lessons and are just getting into the swing of things.
In the last trimester fatigue, various distractions and a lack of focus can start to effect a pregnant womens driving ability quite dramatically. Some describe it as 'baby brain' a combination of hormonal effects, tiredness and other stuff. If this happens regularly you need to consider stopping your lessons and plan on starting to drive again after giving birth. A good instructor will only present a candidate for test if they remain safe.
If you're in a collision - even if it’s a minor one and you feel OK - have the baby's heartbeat checked to make sure no damage has been done. Even if you don't feel you've been hurt, research suggests that pregnant women in crashes without documented injuries are at greater risk of premature labour caused by a placental abruption.
How do I pay for my lessons?
These days there are so many ways to pays. Driving With Ellis accepts bank transfer, PayPal payments and card payments in the car on the day of your lesson. We even take cash :)
Some lessons are paid up front for example block bookings are paid in advance or on the first lesson of the block via any of the methods above.
Lessons MUST be paid for on the day of the lesson at the latest.