New skills require repetition. Some skills require lots of repetition. And sometimes that repetition–like doing drills over and over again for your sport, or practicing scales on your musical instrument–can make you say, “I’m over it.”

Repetition has a major benefit, however, because after repeating something–you know how to do it. Your driving school instructor in Suffolk, Virginia  knows that. The skills become part of your “muscle memory”, and you’ll be able to do them almost without thinking. While you should be paying attention while you drive, of course, your attention and mind will lead your body to take action when you have to–you will be ready to act.

You should find ways to make sure you get the most out of your driving school experience. It will help you learn to drive–the process will go more easily. The process involves you–the new driver, your driving instructor, and, if you’re a teen, your parents–all have roles to play.

Here are some ways to get the most from your Suffolk, VA driver education. It’s aimed at both teens and parents.

1. Ask for feedback during behind-the-wheel instruction

Instruction requires evaluation of your performance. Skills need to be done correctly, especially when the safety of others is at stake–as with driving. Feedback, therefore, is important–both during the lesson and at the end. You need to hear “you took that turn a bit too fast” just after the turn, not at the end. But at the end, you need an overview.

The feedback is an active process. Your driving instructor should give you a sense of what you did right–as well as the things you could be doing better. You need to know what you should practice before the next lesson. You should always ask questions, and don’t settle for “You can merge onto the highway better”.  Take advantage of your partnership with the instruction–ask the detailed questions, showing that you are an attentive driving student.

If you’ve been on stage in a school play, this time is the end of rehearsal when the director gives notes. Members of sports teams will recognize the time when coach goes through what happened during the game–win or lose.

2. Practice, practice, practice.

You have to repeat the skills. Over and over. And over and over again, until you have them right. Driving requires you to combine mental habits and physical skills–working together.  Repetition, therefore, is crucial to getting everything ready not only for your driving test but also for driving safely for the rest of your life.

You probably will not be able to get all of the practice you need with your driving instructor–that can get expensive. Work with your parents to get as much driving time as you can, and drive between Portsmouth and Suffolk, Chesapeake and Norfolk. Practice the items your driving instructor said you needed work on–and demonstrate the skills you know you already do well. Give yourself that reward–recognize and celebrate the good stuff even as you work on the other, more difficult skills.

3. Work as a team

Your parents or guardians have probably been driving for two decades or more–they have experience you can take advantage of. They probably also have some habits which you, as a new driver, probably shouldn’t have–even when everyone is “safe” when the experience driver follows them.

One example might be driving above the speed limit on the interstate. Some people may go 72-75 in 65 mph zones on I-64, saying “It’s OK–that’s the speed of the traffic”. Other parents may cut corners on curves when visibility is good.

Without getting into a long discussion, even if those habits are “safe” when experienced drivers follow them, new drivers should not. Parents and driving instructors should be working on the same good skills for their new drivers–parents will help their students get the most out of driver education if they  work to control the temptations of your habits which don’t conform to the rules of the road. Make this process as efficient as possible.

4. Avoid distractions and focus

While you’re practicing with a parent or guardian, focus on driving. Turn your phone off–and your supervising driver should also. Don’t have the radio on or music playing. Focus on the skills you need to work on.

You can always reward yourself with a texting/phone break halfway through the practice session–or after you get home from driving instruction. Pull off at a safe spot in Portsmouth or Chesapeake and let your friends know that your practice driving is going well.

5. Establish rules and routines

New drivers need practice–teens know it, parents know it, driving instructors know it. Virginia requires 45 hours of practice driving before taking the road test–and that will take some time to accomplish.

Everyone also has busy schedules in 2018, and that’s not likely to change. Parents and teens will need to make time in their schedules to get the driving done, and most practice will need more than a 5-10 minute drive to the store or school. Practice sessions should last an hour or so, with each session focusing on one or two specific skills.   

You will have your learner’s permit for at least 9 months. That time allows plenty of time to practice all the skills you need not only to pass the test, but be a safe driver.

Parents and guardians should also make sure that time is set aside for the practice driving, especially between lessons. Your teen will be happier knowing that progress is being made towards their license.

6. Plan ahead

Planning ahead is part of driving. If you’re driving from Chesapeake, VA to King’s Dominion for a day of fun, Google Maps will tell you that it takes about 2 hours to get there. If you want to be there at 9am, you can’t leave at 8 and get there on time. You should also allow for rush hour around Richmond.

Likewise, plan driving school behind-the-wheel lessons in advance. Summers are busy for driving schools–as you can imagine. Don’t wait until July 28th for lessons in mid-August, when you’re looking for a driving school in Suffolk, VA.

7. Drive when you’re ready

It’s become more common for teens to delay getting their licenses than 10 or 20 years ago. Not only is it expensive, other activities may run interference with getting the license–sports, school activities, jobs which don’t require driving.

You will get the most out of your driver education when you are ready for it. You don’t need to rush.

8. Prepare!

Know the Virginia driver’s manual inside and out–you will do better on both the written and road tests.  The manual is available online, for free.