7 Common Myths about Learning to Drive

When you’re at the start of your driving career, everyone wants to give you advice.

Your first lesson has not even happened yet, but there they are, your Mum, Dad, next-door neighbour and the bloke down the pub, who’ve all been driving for years, with some sage words to help you your way.
Yes, they want to help you, but be very aware.

There are quite a few false beliefs, let’s call them myths, that have been built up around the driving test and learning to drive in general. Also, long-established bad driving habits create a whole load of driving folklore and fairy stories about what should make logical sense: acquiring skills to a level to pass your driving test.

Here at your friendly local driving school, Steering Clear, we’d like to put a stop to those rumours. Believe us, if you take them on board, your understanding of what it means to be a good driver could be a little skewed.

OK, here’s a good one to start:

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1. Don’t take your test on a Friday because they’ve run out of passes.

No, no and no. If you drive well enough to pass, you will pass. There are no quotas, targets or pass-fail objectives. It’s as simple as that. Let your Dad know about that one, will you?

2. You can use your horn to get angry about other people’s driving

People do this quite a lot, and it’s wrong. Actually, it’s dangerous, as acting in anger could compromise your safety, as well as those around you. Your car horn is not your road rage tool.

In fact, on a standard 30 miles per hour road, you’re not allowed to sound your car horn after 11.30pm and before 7.00am. We bet you didn’t know that, did you?

The use of your horn is to warn other drivers that you are present or to alert people to an unseen hazard. End of.

3. You will always pass if you take an intensive driving course.

Wrong again. Taking driving lessons every day could take you from zero to passing-your-test hero if you meet all the DVSA standards. Or maybe it couldn’t. Just because you’ve committed time and money to intensive learning, you’ll still only pass if you’re good enough.

In fact, learning to drive more slowly (not literally driving slower!) could instil better, longer-term habits, including developing your skills in all conditions.

More to the point, wouldn’t you get tired after just a couple of hours’ driving? Two weeks of learning behind the wheel could put you off for life. Just saying.

Our advice is to think carefully about which option suits you best.

4. If you stall, you’ll fail.

OK, if you stall a few times during your test, it’s likely that you won’t hear those magic words, “I’m pleased to tell you that…”

If you haven’t stalled in a dangerous situation or in a way that affects another driver or road user, just take a deep breath, re-start your car and carry on. You’ll probably be fine, although there are no guarantees on this.

It’s the way you deal with stalling that’s more important than it happening on an isolated occasion.

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5. Men are better drivers than women

Yikes, a bit of controversy here. There are some dyed in the wool drivers (mostly male, sorry) who will believe this myth until their last breath, but the truth is that both men and women have an equal opportunity to get it right or get it wrong.

It’s a fact that until just a few years ago, insurers offered lower premiums to women. Why? Because on the whole, they had fewer accidents than the guys. In general, it seems, women are the more cautious gender, hence the cheaper cover. The Equality Act has now disbanded this disparity, however.

The debate rages on! As driving instructors, we’re staying out of this one.

6. If you drive more slowly, you’re more likely to pass your test.

No, this is dangerous nonsense.

It may seem like a good idea to show your examiner that you’re a careful, cautious driver. The truth appears counter-intuitive to many; confidence is the key here, or rather, potential future confidence and capability. The speed at which you drive has to reflect the conditions, the road you’re on and your awareness of other drivers.

If you drive too slowly, not only are you never going to win Popular Driver of the Year, others in their frustration may try to overtake you at a dangerous part of the road.

7. You won’t get a fine and penalty points if the speed camera doesn’t flash.

Technology has moved on massively here, so this is a big NO from us here at Steering Clear. There are many, many ways in which your speed can be tested so don’t take the risk.

And, while we’re at it, check out via Google just how dangerous speeding can be. A grim subject, but the difference between 30 and 40 miles an hour regarding the impact on a human body from a car is significant.

Our advice on all of this? First off, don’t believe everything you hear. The driving test has been around for about 80 years and there are lots of legends, fables and myths around it.

You’ll only learn to drive once and of course, you want to do it right. The solution is to listen to your driving instructor. Ask him or her about anything. Remember, these good folks want you to pass.

Beep beep. And good luck with your test.