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What to expect on your first driving lesson

Last updated: 21/02/2022 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Whether you’re super excited or a little nervous, your first driving lesson is a huge step! Let’s take a look at how you can stay calm in your first driving lesson, and prepare you for what to expect for your first time behind the wheel.

In This Guide:

How to prepare for your first driving lesson

A little preparation goes a long way! In advance of the big day, make sure you do the following to get the most out of your first lesson:

  • Ensure you’ve enrolled with a reputable instructor or school.
  • Brush up on the Highway Code. In all likelihood, you’ll have already done deep reading into this juicy code before your first lesson, but give yourself a little refresher so the basics are at the forefront of your mind.
  • Get some good sleep. You need to be focused and mentally prepared for your first lesson, so avoid alcohol the night before, get an early night and eat a good breakfast. Oh, and bring your glasses with you if you wear them.
  • You must have your provisional licence before taking your first driving lesson, so be sure to apply for this well in advance. On the day, make sure you have this with you too, as your instructor will need to validate it. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take your lesson.
  • Be comfy. Wear your lucky charm if you like, but a stuffy suit or a bodycon dress won’t help you relax when it comes to getting to grips with the mechanics. Most importantly, where flat, sturdy shoes.

What do you do on your first driving lesson?

Every driver’s first lesson works in the same way, with the learner going over the cockpit check and car controls. After this, you’ll get a little taste of life on the road.

Cockpit check

Once you’re in the driving seat, the first thing your instructor will go over with you is a cockpit check. These are the first checks to ensure you’re in the right position to start driving and entails:

  • Checking the doors are shut
  • Checking your seat is comfortable – adjusting the height and distance
  • Checking your steering position
  • Checking you have your seatbelt on (a must!)
  • Checking your mirrors – are they adjusted for your view?

Car controls

You’ll then move onto some simple car controls, the basic mechanics of driving. You’ll be introduced to the clutch, break, accelerator, handbrake and be shown how to use the gearbox. You’ll also be shown where the indicators are.


Next, you’ll hit the road! Your instructor will ask you to practise what you’ve learnt with your cockpit checks and car controls, and off you go. It involves starting the car, signalling you intend to move and stopping the vehicle after a little drive. You may even learn some parking and manoeuvres while you’re at it!

Everyone learns at different paces, so don’t be disheartened if you have a rocky start. Instructors know learner drivers may be nervous, which is natural. And for peace of mind, your instructor has dual control of the car, so you’re in safe hands!

Top tips for your first driving lesson

Your first driving lesson is a huge experience and your brain may be in overdrive trying to remember an abundance of new information. So we’ve put together a few tips to help you have the best possible experience:

  • Keep calm: It’s natural to be nervous, but your instructor is with you the whole way. Take a few deep breaths and remember – you’re not expected to get it straight away, not even close!
  • Ask questions: There are no silly questions when it comes to learning to drive – in fact, it’s important you ask anything that springs to mind so that you feel confident and safe behind the wheel. Trust us, your instructor has done this countless times and is there to help you understand all the complex mechanics and processes.
  • Don’t worry if you forget things: Either in your lesson or afterwards. Driving is muscle memory and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
  • Don’t compare: You may have heard a mate bragging about how quickly they learnt to drive, but take that with a pinch of salt. Everyone learns at their own pace and there are no deadlines for mastering such a big skill. If you need more time or practice, that’s okay. Speak to your instructor to work out a lesson schedule that works for you.
  • Congratulate yourself: At the end of your lesson, recognise what a boss you are and relax.

What happens if I make a mistake in my driving lesson?

If there’s someone out there who didn’t make a mistake on their first driving lesson then we’re a monkey’s uncle. Driving takes commitment and practice, and as the old adage goes, you learn from your mistakes.

Errors like stalling or a juddery gear change are not just common but expected, and even if something more significant happens, remember your instructor has control of the vehicle too.

Do I need insurance to take a driving lesson?

If you’re taking a driving lesson with a qualified instructor, then you don’t need to take out car insurance – your instructor’s vehicle is insured for you. But once your first lesson is over, you may be keen to get some extra practice in. If you’ve got your own vehicle, or plan to practice in your parent’s car, then you’ll need insurance, for which you’ll need specialist learner driver insurance.

After all those lessons and once you’ve passed your test, you’ll need to change insurance policies to reflect that you hold a full driving licence. Searching for a suitable deal can feel like a minefield, so check out our comprehensive guide on how you can reduce your premium as a young driver.    

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