Driving on your own for the first time can be a really strange experience. All of a sudden there is no-one alongside you telling you what to do if things go wrong.
If you have learned to drive in your own car, the experience should be easier; you will already be familiar with the vehicle you are driving. If you find yourself in a new car however, you need to take time to become familiar with it.
The first thing to do is to get comfortable behind the wheel. Make sure that you adjust the seat so you can reach all the controls comfortably. Next… make sure that you know where all the controls are!
Control positions do differ from car to car; the levers and buttons you have been used to may be in a different place. They may also move in a different direction! Take time to get to know your vehicle. Read the car manual before you even start the engine; and once the engine is running, go through operating all the controls you might need before setting off.
In particular, go through a few runs of the different positions of the gear lever. You can do this with the engine turned off; or hold the clutch down while it is running. Although the gear positions may be no different to the car you drove before; the tension of the lever, and the distance between the ‘gates’ can feel quite different. So before driving on your own for the first time in a new car, above all get comfortable with the gear lever.
Don’t drive straight into busy traffic if you can avoid it. Head for a quiet estate, a park, or an industrial area where you will not feel under pressure if you struggle at first. Give yourself time to settle down and feel relaxed before you head out into more challenging areas.
If there is a route you are familiar with; such as a journey to work or school that you have been making during your lessons, use this. Drive along it a few times, and then start to branch out into other areas.
Driving on your own for the first time can be challenging, but approached in a sensible way, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Take your time, build up your confidence little by little, and only move further afield when you really feel ready.