Welcome to Part 13 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!

NICK: Today I decided that I wanted to concentrate on her manoeuvres as I knew Jess was getting practice in her own car. Whenever Jess starts a lesson I always ask her what driving she has done in her own car.


JESS: I try and go out in my car as often as possible just to get me used to being on the roads a bit more. I still get nervous when coming to roundabouts so I find that going out in my car really helps me get more comfortable and familiar with roundabouts.


NICK: First of all we recapped on the Reverse Park. With this manoeuvre it only takes 4 turns of the wheel at certain times however at the beginning Jess kept turning the wheel the wrong way.


JESS: In this particular manoeuvre I kept getting my left and rights mixed up for example where I’m supposed to be going left right right left I keep going left right left right. Eventually I got it and I now know for next lesson as I definitely have it drilled into me.


NICK: This often happens with pupils if they are reversing but looking forward and only using mirrors. It is important to keep looking over your left shoulder in the direction of travel that will help knowing which way to turn the wheel. After a little coaching Jess got the hang of the Reverse Park.


JESS: It takes me a few minutes every lesson to adjust to the different biting point in nicks car when I am used to driving my car, I am usually quite heavy footed on the gas when I get in Nicks car because mine is different and older.


NICK: Jess has done more driving in her own car which has helped but at the start of the lesson she normally has a few problems with clutch control however this is not a big worry as the experience she is getting driving her own car far outweighs the little problem with the clutch.


JESS: Nick just advised that for a few weeks before my test I stop driving my car so that I am more used to his car.


NICK:  Jess has started to gain more confidence in her driving and I get the impression she is enjoying it more.


JESS: I have become a lot more confident in driving lately because I drove up to Chelmsford on the A12 which was quite busy, I was really scared at first but I knew that I would have to do it someday. It went really well and it was good practice for driving on roads that I am not familiar with. I was so comfortable driving that I also drove on the way back which was scary as it was dark and sometimes you can just see darkness in front of you so you have to be fully alert. It made me realise that I need to work on changing gear without looking at the gearstick. This showed that I am getting a lot more confident because there was no way when I first started driving that I’d be able to go on the A12 in the dark whilst still a learner.