Getting as many driving lessons as you can and as much experience in the car as possible is the sure route to success.
But what if you can't have more lessons and you don't have access to a car to practice?
Can you really practice driving without being in a car?
Is there anything you can do to learn even faster without actually driving?
There certainly is.
And it's easy.
Not only that but you could save money on lessons and pass your driving test faster.
Do you need any better reason to at least consider practising in private?
Why You Need To Practice
So many times over the years I've had learners mention that they wished they could practice between driving lessons, but their parents couldn't afford the insurance or feel safe enough to take them out. Without having access to a car, how can you practice driving?
OK, so you're not going to be sat in a car between lessons, but think about it for a moment. Many of the physical movements you make in a car whilst driving you can replicate between your lessons. It's almost impossible to overstate just how important co-ordination and physical movement is in driving.
These movements are very repetitive. You'll find yourself doing the same things over and over again. You don't need to be in a car to practice them. You can accelerate your co-ordination and muscle memory by practising alone.
Many theories of learning state that even just thinking about these movements actually and measurably increases your ability to perform them in the real world. That’s the reason Olympic athletes visualise certain movements over and over again. When they aren't actually competing or physically training, they train their nervous system by imagining themselves making those movements.
The nerves become more adaptable to the movements and what was difficult becomes much easier. So much so that such movements become almost instinctive. If practice like this is good for Olympic athletes, don't you think it could be good for you?
Practicing Mirror Checks - Extremely Important
Let's get specific and look at a few examples. You may feel daft practising this, but stick with it (in private) and your driving just may come on in leaps and bounds.
Your instructor should tell you just how important mirror checks are. It's one of the key areas of driving and is something the examiner will check on your driving test. Mirror is the first 'M' in 'MSM', or Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre. MSM is the foundation of everything you do as a driver.
You should check the mirrors, often the interior and one of the side mirrors, before you do anything. Before you slow down, before you speed up, change direction, approach a pedestrian crossing, change lanes, pull over at the side of the road, the list could go on and on.
Nothing you do should happen without a mirror check first.
"Many of the physical movements you make in a car whilst driving you can replicate between your lessons. It's almost impossible to overstate just how important coordination and physical movement is in driving"
Because it's essential to know what's going on all around you before you move. Note that I said "before" you move, not "as" you move. If you turn left into a side road without checking the mirrors, how do you know if there isn't a push bike on your nearside and you're about to knock them off?
Mirror checks, constantly and before you do anything, are essential. So, how can you practice them?
Well, you know where the mirrors in a car are, so let's practice the simple movement to glance in them. Imagine that you are in a car and about to slow down. DO NOT move your right foot to press the brake pedal before you glance up and to your left into your imaginary mirror.
Pretend to take a quick look for the bike or car behind, then actually move your foot as though you were gently squeezing the brake.
Do it again. Absolutely no foot movement until you glanced in the mirror, then gently pretend to brake.
Do it again
Do it ten times whenever you have a few seconds to spare, it takes no time at all.
Taking It A Little Further
Now expand the exercise and pretend that you're turning left into a side road. Hold your arms our as though you're holding a steering wheel. Yes, I said hold your arms out, if you're in a private place there's no reason not to, nobody else will know.
DO NOT, under any circumstances, move your hands until you've taken that glance in your pretend interior mirror.
Then, immediately take that all important glance to your left into the pretend nearside door mirror. Just a fraction of a second into each mirror can give you all the information you need.
Then and only then, pretend to signal to the left, then pretend to make the gear change (yes, you can even move your foot on the pretend clutch), make those very important final mirror checks just before you move, then make the turn with your pretend steering wheel.
Do it again. And again.
Now do it pretending to turn to the right.
Now pretend that you have to stop at a pedestrian crossing, go through all the movements but remember . . . mirror first.
Would you feel silly sitting alone doing this? Probably, but you don't need to tell anyone and you don't need to admit that you do it. The simple fact is that your driving could come on remarkably. If you take the time to do this, you'll realise that you can actually practice just about every physical movement in almost every driving situation you can think of. Just like Olympic athletes who visualise movement, your brain doesn't care whether or not you're actually sitting in a car. Just making the movements strengthens the connections and makes the movement natural and flowing when you find yourself in a busy situation.