driving-diary-15Welcome to Part 15 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: This was another lesson in busy traffic, but the main benefit of this is that Jess’s clutch control has vastly improved. She is also using her own car which has helped.


JESS: This was another lesson after school, which meant that there was quite a bit of traffic again but I like practicing in traffic because it means I get to practice clutch control.


NICK: We drove to a place called Belfair’s which is ideal for practicing manoeuvres, I gave Jess the choice of manoeuvres and she wanted to do the Reverse Park.


JESS: We drove around for a bit to Belfairs and I done a reverse park which went okay, I was still guiding myself through it saying what i was doing out loud so that nick could correct me if I said anything wrong.


NICK: Jess done well on the manoeuvre she likes to talk out loud whilst doing the manoeuvre, this is not a problem even on test, if it helps.


JESS: We then went to the normal place by the airport where I normally practice reverse park and i done it to ‘test standard’ according to nick which made me feel more confident on them and I’m hoping I get that in my test.


NICK: We went for another drive and did a few more reverse parks. I was very pleased the Jess’s improvement on this manoeuvre and she regularly does them to test standard which is great.


JESS: I am much more comfortable on roundabouts now which is good because they were my main worry, but practicing them over and over again has made me more aware of what’s going on and where to look and when to indicate.


NICK: Jess also told me she was not too confident on roundabouts, I asked her what worried her and she said she was nervous if we approached a busy roundabout. In my opinion the only way to conquer these nerves is to practice, practice, practice! Which is what we did and she is a lot more confident now!


JESS: It was raining on this lesson and it’s actually the first time I’ve driven in heavy rain so I had to get used to breaking earlier than normal and being wary that the roads were wet.


NICK: During the lesson it started to rain quite hard, I got Jess to pull over at a safe place and we talked about what effects the rain can cause. Jess knew she would have to leave a bigger gap between her and the vehicle in front. She also knew she would have to be gentler on the brakes to avoid skidding.


JESS: I didn’t find driving in the rain that bad at all as long as you remember to break a bit before normal so there is a safe enough stopping distance. Other than that it was fine, some people don’t like it because the windscreen wipers distract them but they didn’t cause me a problem.


NICK: Jess was keeping a good distance behind the vehicle in front of her but as usual other cars just slotted in the gap she had left so she then made the gap bigger again. Overall this was a good lesson again with Jess gaining more confidence.


JESS: I have finally booked my theory so hopefully I’ll be ready to do it, I’m going to try and do an hour a night and have got apps on my phone to help me.


NICK: Jess has finally booked her Theory Test, for which she is studying hard, and which hopefully she will pass first time.


JESS: My best friend has recently passed her test so I want to be the next out of my group which is making me motivated so we can all go out and about a bit more which will be nice considering we all go to different places. If we drive it will make it a lot easier to see each other a lot more frequently.