Starting Life as a Learner Driver

What happens in your first driving lesson?

It’s a common question that some of you may have. You might have an idea of what happens in your first driving lesson, others take a guess or go on what someone else has said in the past.

There are myths that you can spend the whole hour stationary and the car doesn’t move. We have heard of companies out there that do that, but it’s not something we practice at Karl’s Driving School. There are also Myths about the Driving Test itself, such as the examiners can’t pass too many people so never take a test on a Friday because the pass quota has been reached. The examiners won’t speak to you, not necessarily true, the examiner will always weigh up the situation with a pupil and act accordingly. They will always encourage pupils positively in their manner to bring out their true driving ability.

Our goal at Karl’s Driving School is to get you driving as quickly as possible on your first lesson without compromising your safety.


Here’s generally what happens from the beginning to the end of the first hour:

  • Eyesight test and checking provisional licence– You will be asked to read a number plate which will be approximately 20.5 meters away (5 car lengths). Once your eyesight has been checked, your instructor will then look at your provisional licence and take down some details, including your driver number.


  • Quick Q&A– Your instructor will spend 2-3 minutes asking questions and finding out your previous experience. Although you may not have driven before, you may have experience with other vehicles such as a moped, go karting, farm vehicles or you may have practiced with family/friends. Some pupils getting into the car for the first time know absolutely nothing and others have some knowledge, like which pedal is which, basic controls like the handbrake and how to adjust the mirrors. By quickly finding out your prior knowledge at the beginning, your instructor can pitch their level of instruction accordingly.
  • Drive to site– Depending on where you live, your instructor may have to drive you to a quieter area. It’s important that you start in an area free from activity, like approaching vehicles and busy junctions. Depending on where you live, this make take 5-10 minutes. Your instructor will take you to the nearest suitable place possible.
  • Commentary drive– On the way to a suitable place your instructor will talk you through what they are doing. For example changing gear, turning the steering wheel, the use of mirrors and more.
  • Controls– Once the instructor has found a suitable place, it’s important you know the controls of the vehicle. Little things like adjusting the seat and mirrors vary on every car.

Knowing which pedal is which, where the direction indicators are, how to adjust the seat – are         all important need to knows before you start trying to move the car. These are very simple               things for someone who can drive, but many pupils don’t know this on their first lesson, so it’s           important to lay the foundations correctly, so the pupil doesn’t panic later when the car is                 moving. A controls lesson can take up to 20 minutes. Depending on your prior knowledge, it             can be shortened to just 5 minutes too.


  • Clutch control– Before commencing moving off and stopping, it’s important you understand how the clutch works and you should have a little practice to become familiar with the sensitivity of the clutch. The use of the clutch is required to move off and to stop, so an understanding and a feel for the clutch definitely helps.


  • Moving off and stopping– Your instructor will need to brief you on what to do first. This can take up to 7 minutes, depending on your prior knowledge and experience. After the briefing you will practice moving off and stopping in first gear initially. Once you are comfortable exceeding 10mph, your instructor will encourage you to change into 2nd and possibly 3rd gear too. Because the foundations were laid earlier in the controls, the need to stop and go through the gears is unnecessary. You can expect at least 7-10 moving off’s and stops within the one hour lesson. To do this many ‘moving offs’ a long stretch of straight road is required, this is why location is important at the beginning.


  • Debrief and drive back– Depending on where you live or want dropping off, your instructor may have to drive back in the interests of safety and finishing your lesson on time. On the way back, your instructor will go over the lesson and possibly do a bit more commentary of what he/she is doing whilst driving you to your drop off point.


  • Feedback and Rebook– Your instructor will offer feedback, usually including strengths and weaknesses, for you to bare in mind. Before leaving, your instructor will book you in for your next lesson