Many people will no doubt be over the moon to receive the gift of driving lessons this Christmas, but learning to drive although exciting can be a little daunting, especially if you're not sure what to expect.

Absolute beginners, in particular, will have no idea of what learning to drive entails other than what they may have been told by people who perhaps learned a long time ago! So before you plunge straight into your lessons, read on for advice from Beverly Slater on what to expect.

Finding The Right Instructor

Choosing the right instructor is your number one priority and is key to learning to drive successfully. The right instructor can put you at ease and guide you through the basics and beyond, no matter how nervous you may be. Although it is tempting to accept a family member or a friend's offer to teach you to drive, you should politely but firmly resist, at least in the short term. This is because people who have been driving for any length of time may have picked up some bad driving habits - which they could then pass on to you. More importantly, they will not have the required training or knowledge and most certainly won't have access to a vehicle with dual controls; all of which a professional driving instructor will have. Start your search by looking for Approved Driving Instructors in your area.

Your chosen driving instructor will need to see proof of your provisional driving licence and will discuss with you how many lessons you will ideally need so that you have an understanding of how much time you will need to commit to.

Your First Lesson

The first lesson(s) will likely take place in a quiet area where there is minimal traffic and this is where your instructor will guide you through the basics of how the car works. Even though you may have been in the driving seat of other vehicles before, you will still need to learn the layout of where everything is and how it all works in your instructor's vehicle. You'll be shown how the brakes, clutch and accelerator pedals work, how the lights and indicators work and so on. The next step will be to learn how to start the vehicle and how to move off and then how to use the brakes to stop.

A good instructor will always allow you to progress at your own pace and will never push you to go further than you feel you can. A good driving school will emphasise the importance of building up a learner driver's confidence and will always take into account the particular needs of each learner; every learner is unique, and driving is a skill which is learned at your own pace.

After The First Lesson

Once you have mastered the basics of driving and you feel confident in going further, your instructor will take you through more advanced manoeuvres such as reversing, emergency stops, parallel parking and three-point turns. You will need to learn these to a level of competency required to pass the driving test. Don't worry about doing these things though; your instructor will take you through these manoeuvres as many times as it takes until you are both sure that you're happy, confident and competent.

Pass Plus

When you learn to drive, there are certain aspects of driving which are not routinely covered by lessons such as motorway driving, bad weather driving or night driving. This is where a Pass Plus course could be useful to get you that extra experience while still being under the tutelage of an experienced driving instructor.

So what are you waiting for? Even if you don't get lessons for Christmas, why not make learning to drive your New Year's resolution!