Welcome to Part 2 of Jess’ Driving Diary. The Driving Diary will be a weekly blog of the driving lessons for a 17 year old pupil but will be from the perspective of both the pupil and the instructor. Our aim is to help learners understand that the challenges they encounter are dealt with by most pupils and that they need not be as nervous about driving as they think. It will allow them to follow the lessons from the beginning to test of Jess Smith and her driving instructor Nick Freeman. We will hopefully bring you the emotions, practical and technical elements of learning to drive.

The Pupil – Jess Smith

jessJess Smith is a 17 year old young lady who hails from the glamorous town of Southend on Sea in Essex. She is a generally confident person. Jess enjoys her sport and has good eye hand coordination, which will definitely help whilst learning to drive. Jess is presently studying A Level English Language, English Literature, History and RE. Her long term goals are to become a primary school teacher.

The Instructor – Nick Freemannick

Nick Freeman is a Southend on Sea based driving instructor with 9 years’ experience in teaching people to drive cars. Nick spent 24 years in the Navy where he defended this great Isle of ours and got the bug for training people albeit in a completely different style and without the guns of course. For his sins Nick is a West Ham fan but we don’t generally hold that against him. With a great sense of humour Jess is definitely going to enjoy her driving lessons!

JESS: Nick picked me up when I got home from school so I was a bit tired but I was looking forward to my lesson which was an hour and a half. Again, we drove to Thorpe bay, the same place as my first lesson and to begin with I got straight into the driver’s seat and drove around for a bit to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.


NICK: As with the first lesson I took Jess to Thorpe Bay. This was an evening lesson during the week.  After a hard day at school it was evident Jess was quite tired and to be honest the roads were quite busy with the school runs going on.  Jess was a bit nervous at first due to so many cars about.  I think she realised as well that driving is difficult if you are tired.


JESS: Due to it being after school the roads were busier than they were on Saturday so it was difficult to try and start something completely new.


NICK: I then asked Jess to move off when it was safe to do so; we drove around the block a couple of times to build confidence.  Jess had done well, again there was a slight problem with steering but I was sure in time and with practice she would get better.  I decided to start moving into busier roads and I could see Jess was nervous.  We sat and had a chat and I assured her if I didn’t think she could drive on these roads I wouldn’t let her.  It is important for the pupil to gain confidence little by little and not thrown in at the deep end.


JESS: We went for a longer drive-with me driving and we approached a roundabout, I have never been so scared in my life but luckily there was nothing coming so it was a good introduction to roundabouts. I got round it alright, probably due to the fact that I was the only one there! We went along the seafront as well and went down a hill where there was a bit of traffic waiting to turn, Nick had to help out a bit with the breaks before I went into the back of a land rover but other than that everything went quite smoothly.


NICK: We approached a roundabout which worried Jess but she coped well with it, as there were no other cars about.  Jess still has a problem with braking but whereas before she braked harshly sometimes she doesn’t use enough pressure on the brake. I had to dual her once before she went into the back of a land rover, looking on the Brightside it had a tow bar so it could of towed us to a garage if I was a bit slow on the duals.

Jess began to gain confidence, she was also happy to move into third gear and increase speed.


JESS: . I actually managed to get up to third gear and 30mph which I was reluctant to do on my first lesson, I always considered myself as quite a careful driver and was scared to go fast. However when I went up to third I didn’t seem to have any problems and had to watch my speed before I turned into the next Lewis Hamilton!


NICK: Jess has also learnt how bad other road users treat learners.  She was getting annoyed as a driver behind her was so close.  I pointed out it is a regular occurrence and this is a reason why we check our mirrors.


JESS: Other drivers are annoying though, despite the fact that it clearly states that I am a learner they still love getting up my bum. It makes me so cautious and makes me feel like I have to rush but as Nick said I have to remain calm and relaxed otherwise I will panic which will make me more likely to stall.


NICK: This was a good driving lesson overall and Jess gained some vital experience in driving on busier roads, with roundabouts.


JESS: One thing that I still have to work on is my breaks, I’ll either break to soon or leave it too late so that I have to press hard on the breaks which is funny to see me and Nick fly forward but obviously not ideal. Hopefully as time goes on and I do more driving I will become used to the sensitivity of the breaks and know when and how hard to press on the breaks.