Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Independence is finally mine... the imp can drive!

I've always considered myself to be a pretty independent person in most areas of my life.  However, there is one area in which I have been totally dependent upon others the past few decades of my life - getting from A to B by means of a car.  Yes - all my solo adventures have been made with the use of my own two feet and public transport.  Due to events the past few years I started thinking that perhaps I really should get my driving license.  After all, as the nature of the job I want is likely to involve travel - how likely am I to be successful in an application without a driving license?  A couple of years ago I cheekily asked if driving lessons counted as a 'training course' for my personal development plan - naturally the answer was 'no'.  My attitude is I was no worse off for asking and they could have surprised me (so I'm an optimist).

This year I finally decided to take the plunge and started saving.  It's an expensive business in the UK as there's a fair bit involved cost wise:
  • Cost of a provisional driving licence (if you don't have one already): £50
  • Insurance for a learner driver on the practice car
  • Theory test: £30
  • Practical test: £56.50
  • Driving lessons: £20 to £26 per hour in my area
  • Supplementary materials (e.g. DVD, Highway code): £25 for learner pack from DSA inc. L plates
  • Free information: Lots of good stuff on the motoring pages of the Direct Gov website.
Although I'd considered going the intensive route I decided I'd be better off taking it steady and accumulating driving experience between lessons - an approach I highly recommend.  In the end it took me 16 x 2 hour lessons (32 hours of driving tuition) and when all the costs are added up it still comes in under £1000.  A few hundred pounds over my optimistic budget... it was worth every penny to hear those magic words:

'I'm pleased to say you've passed.' 

For anyone else out there in their mid-thirties and thinks it's too late to learn - think again.  If I can do it - so can you!

Major thanks go to:
My partner: All your support, patience with manoeuvres and learning to trust my ability to stop the car.
My driving instructor - Dave Lewsey: Your patience with a perfectionist learner, willingness to translate concepts into something that worked for me (mantra: RLR, Rbs, Lbs, Bwdw) and your sense of humour - I loved lessons with you and no longer having them is the only downside of passing my test.


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