Back on the road: How I’m finding my confidence after two years away from the wheel

Aerial view of a motorway.

It was February 2011, a bright winter’s day with the sun low on the horizon. We had just come out of one of the worst winters the UK had seen in years, and I passed my driving test first time. Fast forward to 2018 and I had somehow managed to go two years without getting behind the wheel. How did I let that happen? I moved to the city.

In the city, I could walk everywhere or use the blissfully convenient public transport that stopped right outside my door. I didn’t have to pay for parking and if I went on a trip somebody else usually drove. It was only very rarely that I missed being able to get in my car and go somewhere.

Then everything changed. Being back in the driving seat has become very important to me – in more ways than one – and I forgot how much freedom being able to get in a car and take off somewhere can give you. I was sick of planning trips that were restricted by how close the nearest train station was, and I hated the idea of not being able to go to the remote parts of Scotland I love so much.

It really hit home when I began planning a trip with my boyfriend who doesn’t have a UK license – I’d have no choice this time. This was good, and bad. I didn’t exactly feel thrilled about setting off on a road trip after two years of being the passenger, and I didn’t even own a car. That meant we’d have to get an expensive hire car, and I’d somehow have to regain all my confidence in an unfamiliar vehicle. But I resolved that I’d do it because I’ve always been a good driver, yet the worry lingered.

With two months until our road trip I received some excellent news – my parents weren’t going to be using my old car for a while, and they’d agreed to loan it to me! The thought of driving that little car again boosted my confidence, and I made the decision to address my concerns by booking a motorway driving lesson. Yes, I was going back to driving lessons.

It cost me around £50 for two hours, and I’ll say right now it was worth every penny. As strange as it was being back in a dual-controlled car, the lesson showed me that not only was I a good driver, but also that motorway driving is not as scary as I remembered it to be. Before getting up to high speeds, naturally my new instructor wanted to assess how good my driving was. Once I got used to the unfamiliar Mini, it was smooth-sailing and he decided I was competent enough to take us onto the motorway.

I know I could have done this without a lesson, but I’ll be honest, it would have terrified me. Merging onto a motorway with an instructor giving me tips on how to gauge speeds and make decisions was the most useful thing I’ve done this year. Once the lesson was over, I went out in my own car and felt completely at ease. It was as if I’d never stopped driving, and I actually found it really, really fun.

I’m going to do one more lesson with him this summer to brush up on a few other skills that I gradually forgot about, even when I was driving regularly. Parallel parking is one of them – it was easy to avoid in my hometown, but not so much in Edinburgh! I’m genuinely looking forward to this next lesson, and I’m even more excited to set off on our road trip.

If you’re thinking of doing something similar, I used Red Driving School for the first time and found them super helpful!

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4 Comments

  1. Jean Smith
    14th July 2018 / 5:55 am

    Great advice for anyone getting behind the wheel after some time. Good to know it was such a positive experience. Can’t wait to hear about the road trip!

    • notevie
      14th July 2018 / 10:53 am

      Thanks! Can’t wait to write about the trip!

  2. Val
    14th July 2018 / 8:05 am

    Confidence is a wonderful thing. Happy driving!

    • notevie
      14th July 2018 / 10:54 am

      Thank you Val! Really loved the lesson 🙂

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