Driving lesson tips

Driving lesson tips

Posted by Henno Havenga on 31 Jan 2022

Learner driverWith the ink scarcely dry on your new Learner’s Licence, your first thought is likely to be how soon you can get behind the wheel of a car and drive your way to a full licence and the independence that provides.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 08 seconds.


Learning to drive and learning how to drive the K53 way are sometimes world’s apart, especially if you are being taught by a parent or older sibling, so taking lessons from an accredited driving instructor is a wise choice.

Assuming you have never had any lessons, there are a few things you can do in preparation for your first lesson.

Primarily you need to acquaint yourself with the cockpit. Sit in the driver’s seat of a family member’s car and adjust the seat so you are comfortable, can reach the pedals without stretching or squirming in the seat, can rest your wrist on the top of the steering wheel, and can see clearly over the steering wheel.

Then, learn what each of the switches is for, operate the indicators and windscreen wipers, and understand the information being displayed on the dashboard.

Your instructor’s car will probably be a different make and model so you need to know the indicator stalk can be on the left or right of the steering wheel. . .it all depends on the manufacturer and country of origin.

You also need to give serious thought to the type of driving licence you want–you can opt for an automatic licence only but this means you can drive only automatic vehicles and should you decide later in life you want a manual car, you would have to redo your licence to the unrestricted licence.

First Lesson

However, knowing what to expect in your first driving lesson is the easiest way to calm your nerves and ensure you get off to a great start behind the wheel.

It’s the first time you’ll meet your driving instructor as well as being your first time behind the wheel, so it’s natural to feel a little nervous beforehand.

You will need:

  • Your provisional (learner’s) licence
  • Comfy shoes (no ‘slops’ or high heels)
  • Your glasses (if you wear them)

If you are a complete novice with no driving experience, the first lesson will probably take place in a quiet area off the road such as a parking lot, industrial estate or established training ground.

You should get to drive before the lesson’s over. That does not mean 120 km/h down the freeway, but you will almost certainly get to do a few laps of the training area at a sensible speed.

You’ll probably start with the cockpit drill:

  • Are the doors securely closed?
  • Is the seat in a comfortable position?
  • Is the steering position established?
  • Are all seatbelts on?
  • Have the mirrors been adjusted?
  • You’ll be introduced to the car’s controls
  • You’ll learn about clutch control
  • You’ll learn how to safely move off and stop
Here’s what else you'll likely learn about in your first lesson:
  • 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

If you have chosen to learn to drive a manual car, stalling is part of the process. Do not be embarrassed or become annoyed with yourself and ruin your first lesson. Your instructor has done this many, many times so listen carefully to the advice and the action will soon fall into place.

Remember, driving is 90% mental skill and 10% physical.

The more you practice and gain control over the physical functioning of the car the more these actions become part of your ‘muscle memory’ so you are performing them without having to think about it.

On the day

Before your first driving lesson:

  • Get some sleep
  • Do NOT drink alcohol the night before
  • Eat some breakfast!
  • Double-check where and when you're being picked up

At the end of the first lesson ask the instructor how many additional lessons you should book. Do not stint on this – bookings are difficult enough to obtain at the various licence centres so you do not want to fail your driver’s test and have to do it all over again.

Check out our Learner's License  Study Guide for more information on learning how to drive.

Download Study Guide

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