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22 April, 2020

Learning to drive during lockdown – how to keep your skills sharp without lessons

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, shares his top tips for learner drivers keen to brush up on their skills during lockdown, as featured in The i.

As lockdown continues, empty streets are the new normal. Driving test centres in the UK may be closed but the temptation for parents and their learner driver children to use the lockdown as an opportunity to practice is very real. If we are to look forward to getting out and about again soon, we must follow the government’s advice to stay at home and avoid the appeal of quiet roads.

Starting to learn with family members can set up new drivers with bad habits and, without dual controls in the family car, it can also be very dangerous for those just starting out. But most importantly right now, it is inappropriate for learners and parents to be out on driving lessons. The government has asked us to stay home so let’s follow this guidance not out of fear, but out of love and support for those on the frontline.

We urge all learner drivers to take this opportunity to brush up on theoretical skills that will help them become safe drivers for life. 

Here are RED Driving School’s top tips for learners keen to keep their skills sharp during lockdown.

1. Nail the theory test

This part of getting a driving licence is often neglected as learners focus on the practical side of getting behind the wheel. And it shows in the statistics – the DVSA reports theory test pass rates for 2019/20 are just 48%. With proper study, learners should be able to pass the test with flying colours and a solid grasp of the theory behind driving will only help learners excel on the practical side as well. 

The theory test is made up of 50 multiple choice questions, and learners need to get at least 43 of these right. It’s recommended that learners do at least 20 hours of revision for the test. Our Theory Training Test Aid gives access to more than 1,000 DVSA official practice theory test questions. Feedback is provided for every question and learners can even take a full mock test.

2. Know your traffic signs

Being able to instantly recognise traffic signs and understand their direction is crucial to safe and confident driving. Take your learning to the next step by printing out images of the road signs and using them as flash cards. Leave the signs at various points around your house, like the ‘intersection’ of the hallway between the bathroom and your bedroom, and test yourself as you move through the house throughout the day.

3. Quiz your family and friends

Zoom quizzes have become a staple for socialising during lockdown so use the Highway Code to test your friends or family on your next big night in. While revising the Highway Code, prepare questions from the information you find, whether it’s a section you’re struggling to remember or an answer you were surprised by. Testing others can help reinforce your own knowledge. Learners might also get a kick out of testing their parents to see how good their driving theory is!

4. The hazards of the hazard perception test 

The hazard perception section of the test is where many students become unstuck, but it’s testing drivers’ ability to recognise and respond to hazards on the road – an important part of safe driving. Hone your skills via official DVSA sample hazard perception clips which you can access online and trial via a laptop or computer. Learners can also speak to their driving instructor on how to get it right. And practice, practice, practice.

5. Show me, tell me

The ‘show me, tell me’ section is part of the practical driving test. The ‘tell me’ questions are asked at the start of the test when the car isn’t moving while the ‘show me’ questions are asked during driving – when it is safe to do so. This is one section of the practical test that can brushed up on without having to take to the streets.

There are online tutorials for this section of the test, but all learners can ask their RED instructor for examples to practice in their own time. To test yourself, get your family to ask the questions and practice explaining them. You should also get familiar with the controls of the car, such as the de-mister, cleaning the windscreen and dipped lights, and this can be done from the safety of your driveway in a parked car if one is available.

Find out more about RED’s Theory Training Test Aid here: