Learners warned of ‘bad habits’ passed on from other drivers

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With learner drivers always feeling the pressure when they attempt to get their driving licence, Express.co.uk spoke to an expert to find out what are some of the most common mistakes and bad habits that may result in a failure. 

Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, told Express.co.uk: “Statistically, some of the most common mistakes faced by learners are ineffective observations at junctions and not checking their mirrors enough.

“These aspects are naturally difficult things to assess yourself against, when once you’ve passed a junction your next thought is usually on the road ahead.

“While a trained driving instructor has been specifically coached to effectively observe a pupil’s eye movements to reduce these common test faults, it is extremely unlikely a parent of friends has been.

“An instructor would certainly pull the student up at the next safe and legal position, while a friend may not even realise a fault has occurred in the first place.”

Mr Hixon continued: “It is therefore certainly possible for bad habits to be passed on from other drivers as those they are with might lack the necessary observational skills to point out errors, or might even be making the same errors themselves.

“Watching parents, friends or family members when driving should not be the benchmark to measure yourself against.

“Thankfully, professional driving instructors are trained to ensure bad habits are corrected in time before they are able to impact your driving test or beyond.

“Not checking your mirrors correctly can lead to a serious fault during your driving test, and therefore a fail – so you want to eradicate any bad habits before the exam.”

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Mr Hixon offered a number of other tips that could help learners. He said: “Firstly, I would advise starting lessons with a professional driving instructor.

“Yes, learning with a family member or friend can be a cheaper alternative, but driving instructors are qualified to help get you through your lessons and fully prepared for your test.”

Mr Hixon stressed that driving instructors will also be up-to-date on any law changes or changes to test structures.

The expert added: “It is also important to keep practising manoeuvres and driving theory during the lead-up to your test.

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“It’s best to go into your driving test with complete confidence in your abilities.

“It is also beneficial to practise test routes so you can know what to expect before taking your test.”

Mr Hixon also urged learners to get a good night’s sleep and eat well before their test to decrease stress levels and optimise focus.

On top of that, Mr Hixon also advised drivers on whether it’s better to learn on a manual or an automatic vehicle. 

He said: “Learning to drive a manual car can be a practical choice with many benefits. Firstly, you have more control over a manual vehicle as you are able to choose which gear you are driving in. This can help in different weather conditions if you need more grip on the road. However, it could be argued that this is more dangerous than driving an automatic as you have to take your hand off the wheel to change gears.

“Manual cars can also get up to speed faster than automatic cars as the manual gearbox can help you accelerate at a faster pace.” Mr Hixon added: “Despite the benefits of manual vehicles, it can be argued that learning to drive an automatic vehicle is easier – you don’t need to master the gear changes and it’s also a lot harder to stall an automatic vehicle, making manoeuvres such as hill starts a lot easier.

“However, it should be noted that if you pass your test in an automatic vehicle, you are only licensed to drive automatic cars, whereas if you pass in a manual, you can drive either manual or automatic vehicles with your driving licence. Therefore you should consider the future implications of only being able to drive an automatic vehicle.

“However, with the growing popularity of EVs, it could be assumed that the future of driving is moving towards automatic vehicles, with the move away from fuel-powered vehicles being encouraged by the UK Government. The conflict we, unfortunately, see here is that the young driver used-car market is currently dominated by manual vehicles, especially with the high prices of EVs, therefore you have to consider the financial practicality of purchasing an EV or automatic car as a first car.”

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