A driving test can be a daunting and nerve-racking experience, especially if you have waited for the day for a long time. Recently, driving tests have been allowed to take place again after national lockdowns and restrictions were lifted, due to the pandemic. Some areas, such as in Birmingham, has seen wait times of up to 15 weeks for taking a test, with other places seeing just three weeks.
Whatever the length of time you have between your lessons and your driving test, there are several ways you can prepare yourself and make sure you feel completely ready. In this guide, we’ve put together our top five ways:
- Get to Know Winter Driving Conditions
At this time of year, you can’t expect to be driving in perfect dry and sunny conditions, unfortunately. So, it’s good to be prepared for winter weather and make sure you’ve practiced in these types of conditions with your driving instructor. Brush up on what to expect and what to do in this type of weather in the time you’re waiting for the date of your test.
You can also to learn the stopping distances for rain, icy or foggy conditions – where driving in wet conditions means your total stopping distance will be double the distance to stop on a dry surface and for icy conditions, the braking distance could be ten times more than on a dry road.
Expert driving instructors from Bill Plant Driving School recommend that to stay safe when driving in winter, use dipped headlights in poor visibility and make sure all windows are clear of snow and ice on the outside and de-misted on the inside, especially in the North and West Midlands where icy and snowy conditions are more likely.
- Learn the Different Test Routes
It is near impossible to know exactly what roads you will be directed to on the day of your test, the traffic build-up on that day, or the obstacles that could appear along the way. But there are some ways you can prepare for this. Once you’ve booked your test in a certain centre, you can scout out the likely routes that you are going to take. After all, they will be approved routes that the driving examiner has to take you on.
Also, make sure to practice a variety of roads during your driving lessons, in your region of the West Midlands, which could include minor and major roads, lanes and dual carriageways – that way you won’t be surprised by any type of road that could appear during your test.
- Improve Your Reaction Times
This may seem a strange thing to prepare, but your driving test is essentially a reaction test. Part of the theory, you’ll remember, includes a hazard reaction test, so this still comes to play when doing your practical driving test. Playing video games is a surprising way to improve quick decision making in a heightened situation – which is similar to reaction to hazards when driving. In fact, its scientifically proven with studies suggesting that video games could be a training tool for quicker reactions.
You can also improve your reflexes by playing ball, which is an inexpensive way to practice. Trying to watch the ball and catch it will help you make you aware of obstacles and decrease your reaction time. Practicing bouncing a ball off a surface and avoid it hitting the floor (or anything valuable). You can even buy specific six-sided balls called reaction balls, if you really want to be a pro!
- Have A Refresher Lesson Before Your Test
You instructor may have planned this in advance or recommended this to you already, but having a lesson before your test is very wise. It gets you in the mindset for driving, relaxes you for the test ahead and can calm your nerves. This time also gives you the opportunity to go over the little details that you may have made a mistake on before, like checking your mirrors, failing to signal or driving at the incorrect speed.
- Patience is Key
It may seem that you have been waiting forever to take your test, and with Birmingham in particular having wait times of around 12 to 15 weeks, this period of patience can actually be good for you. There is no rush to pass your driving test, especially first time, even if you are eager to go it alone on the roads. Time is a great benefit, as you can fully prepare yourself not only for your test, but for when you are driving solo on the roads.
It’s advised to only take your test when you and your instructor believe you are fully ready, and even if that’s not after waiting all this time for driving tests to become available again. Waiting can increase your confidence and experience for when you do finally take your test, but also for when you are driving independently.