One of JSF Driving School learner drivers, JH from Coleford, has agreed to give us an insight into the world of learning to drive by keeping a blog until he passes his driving test. Keep up to date with what he learns, how his driving lessons progress and see him drive all the way to his practical driving test pass!

(Please note that each update is usually for a two-hour session, which JSF recommends as providing the best value for money for most Clients.)

Update 1 – This was the first time I’d ever properly been in a car, and I expected for my free driving lesson I would be sat around listening to the basics of starting/stopping. This was definitely not the case, Jim went through the basic controls for a bit then to my surprise told me to drive home. This was a bit nerve-wracking but it was definitely better to get straight into driving without too much theory. Looking forward to my next lesson.

Update 2 – 
This time we went to the Cinderford Industrial estate for more practice with starting and stopping. I was also introduced to mirror checks and steering techniques. This definitely helped me gain confidence. I then got the chance to try out everything I had learnt so far by driving home from Cinderford. I made some mistakes which was to be expected, but Jim was patient and went through everything that was new to me and it was another enjoyable lesson.

Update 3 – Had my third driving lesson today, it went really well. I’m really starting to gain confidence with the basics of driving and it’s good get a chance to drive for the full 2 hours, you really learn a lot more when you’re actually doing it. Today we went ventured outside of Cinderford and I was able to get some practice with junctions, which I was initially worrying about. It’s easy to see where I’m making progress though, so I know what to improve on next time. I feel a lot more confident with steering and gear changes, which feel a lot smoother than on my previous lessons.

Update 4 – Had my lesson in the rain today but that didn’t hamper the lessons as I got a chance to get some more practice with right-hand junctions. I made a few mistakes with various things, it’s a lot to think about at the same time. However I’m more confident with how the clutch works on junctions and the steering needed to get you around the corner. We did a loop of Speech House and Parkend over the course of the lesson, so I got plenty of time to practice.

Update 5 – Having not driven for a couple of weeks I was initially rusty with some of the manoeuvres but I soon picked up what I had learnt previously and got some more practice with junctions. Jim made it easy to tell what mistakes I was making so I was able to learn from them, so although I hadn’t driven in a while I still felt like I was making progress. Got some good practice with clutch control when we got stuck in a slow-moving traffic queue.

Update 6 – Today we moved on from junctions and on to meeting traffic. This lesson was a different experience as we drove around the Coleford area which meant more traffic and more junctions. This was also really good practice for everything I had learnt previously. Junctions seem a lot easier when they aren’t the main focus of the lesson!

Update 7 – Todays lesson was hampered by fog so I only had an hours worth of practice, although it was definitely a valuable experience; it helped me realise the importance of paying attention to the road at all times, so definitely a worthwhile lesson.

Update 8 – I had a really good lesson today despite the snow. We continued with meeting traffic but Jim threw in some junctions so I could effectively recap on everything I’d learnt previously. By the end of the lesson I could tell where I was making a lot of progress. I finished the lesson with a lot more ticks on my progress card, and a lot more confidence in my driving.

Update 9 – Todays lesson gave me more practice with meeting traffic but also with adapting to road conditions; the road was very icy in places and it definitely helped me realise how easy it is to skid if you aren’t careful enough. We drove around Coleford, Newhnam and Lydney and as the lesson didn’t finish until 5:15 pm I got some good experience with driving in the dark too.

Update 10 – Haven’t had a lesson in a while due to the snowy weather but I found it quite easy to get back into driving again, seemed more natural than in my first few lessons. We looked at roundabouts. Although they can be daunting at first (especially with heavy traffic) they are really quite easy, it’s just a case of remembering early preparation, mirrors and signals, and of course keeping an eye on the traffic (not always easy when they don’t indicate!)

Update 11 – Today we moved on to crossings and traffic lights. This wasn’t too demanding until we met heavier traffic in the centre of Chepstow, but overall the lesson went really well and although I’m still making a couple of small mistakes I feel much more confident in my own driving ability and with the car. In a couple of weeks time I’ll be going up to Gloucester to get practice with more roundabouts and driving in heavier traffic.

Update 12 – We moved onto emergency stops and uphill and downhill starts in this lesson. It was great to move onto these new skills as it helped me realise all the progress I was making. I did quite well with them and will be confident doing them in the practical test (if needed). As the lesson was from 4-6pm I also got more night driving practice to help widen my driving experience.

Update 13 – Today I fought through the rush hour traffic in and around Monmouth to get a feel for the place as it’s where I’ll be taking my practical driving test. We also drove up towards Ross on the dual carriageway which was great (it’s always good to have an excuse to accelerate as fast as possible). Monmouth was quite difficult due to the amount of traffic and the relatively narrow streets but it was definitely worth it due to the experience I got from driving in heavy traffic.

Update 14 – We moved on to manoeuvres, which offered me a new challenge which was different to the skills required when driving normally. I practised basic reversing before we moved on to 3 point turns (or “turn in the road”) which was again difficult. I found it hard to control the speed of the car as it is easy to let the car speed up too much if you don’t control the clutch. Overall this was a rewarding lesson (also only managed to stall once!)

Update 15 – Carried on with manoeuvres today. I got plenty of practice with 3 point turns around Cinderford and Lydney. Definitely feeling more confident with reversing overall. Jim is good and finding the right balance between helping you with the manoeuvres but making sure you can do them on your own. Over the course of the driving lesson I got enough practice with 3 point turns to be able to move on from this next week.

Update 16 – Today we started on reversing around corners, which is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be! Really all you’re doing is reversing and turning, but in reality there are a lot of other things to take into account, such as constant use of the mirrors, something which is quite easy to forget. I managed pretty well though, it’s just something I’ll have to keep practising.

Update 17 – Only had a quick one hour lesson today but we finished off reversing around corners and looked at ‘sharp reverse’, just reversing around really sharp corners! This wasn’t too difficult after my previous practice, but I still need to get out of the habit of checking my left mirror too much – it’s really useful to gauge distances but you really ought to be looking behind and in front in case of traffic or other hazards. Next week I’m having a driving lesson in Gloucester, great for roundabout practice apparently, which should be a challenging experience!

Update 18 – Todays Gloucester driving lesson was a good one, and although driving in a new environment caused me to make a few silly mistakes, overall the lesson was thorough and allowed me to get out of my comfort zone by driving in a much busier environment. We finished off with roundabouts and polished up on the everyday skills that I’ll need to succeed in my driving test and beyond.

Update 19 – Today we returned to Monmouth to finish of reversing and although this wasn’t anything new, it was definitely worth taking another look at things like 3 point turns as it keeps the manoeuvres fresh in your mind. Next week we’re going to move on to parking, again I have to compliment the tickbox system on my Progress Card as I can see at a glance the progress I’m making towards taking my driving test.

Update 20 – The last couple of lessons I practised bay parking while still developing my skills with the other manoeuvers to ensure a constant development so I don’t end up forgetting everything I’ve learnt come test day. Parking wasn’t too difficult, you just need to remember to keep looking around everywhere instead of using the mirrors as an easy option.

Update 21 – Today we looked at parallel parking and covered this over the course of the lesson while still practising the other manoeuvres to keep them fresh in my mind. After the lesson I booked my practical driving test and I’ve covered every major area so it’s just a case of polishing all my skills up to test standard, can’t wait to pass!

Update 22 – The last few lessons have been brushing up on the manoeuvres and key skills ready for my test in 2 weeks. We’ve also looked at the Show me/Tell me questions (which are really easy!) so all in all feeling fairly confident with regards to my test, the more practice I get the better though, as I still make the odd mistake here and there. I mainly put that down to having a week between driving sessions, a lot of the time it takes me a while to get back into driving in the next lesson.

Update 23 – Had my driving test today, which I failed, as somehow I managed to forget to change into first gear when pulling off at a junction and stalled the car, and by the time I had sorted it out the lights were red again, which I failed to notice. I certainly won’t be making that mistake again! Pretty sure this was all down to nerves as the rest of the test went great and I only got two minors. Other than my silly mistake I found the test fairly easy so hopefully I won’t have any problems next time.

Update 24 – My driving lessons are now just a case of keeping me familiar with driving and the manoeuvres before my second attempt at the test. I have a couple of driving lessons before then. This is useful as I don’t get a chance outside of my lessons and I don’t want to be out of practice for my second attempt.

Update 25 – By this point I was pretty confident that I could do everything that was required of me to the right standard. The test came around and sure enough I managed to pass with 4 minors! This time I didn’t let nerves get the better of me even after a shaky start! This I partly attribute to the fact that the test instructor was much friendlier than the one I had on my first test, this made me feel a lot more comfortable. The minors I got were for going too slow approaching a slip road, not checking mirrors more than once coming off a roundabout and not changing to a right-hand lane early enough, so nothing major, just some pointers to consider for when I start driving independently. Overall I’m obviously chuffed with my pass and with the service offered by JSF in general!

JSF really appreciates your feedback JH, and the effort it has taken to let us all know how your driving lessons went. Lots of other learner drivers have already told us that they found it really valuable in planning for their sessions. Again, thank you so much, we enjoyed teaching you, and see you driving by soon I expect!!! Look forward to seeing you for Pass Plus and keep safe!