Driving Lessons in Colchester. Friendly Expert Tuition.

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Why Choose Conquer Driving

Whether you want to pass your driving test or simply improve your existing skills, Conquer Driving School can help. You will learn the skills and gain the confidence to pass your driving test quickly, safely and easily. Experience enjoyable driving lessons in a clean, air conditioned, easy to drive car and find out how others have passed their driving test first time.

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What are the benefits?

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About Your Lessons

Arrange a suitable date, time & location with your driving instructor - driving lesson length is typically 2 hours. Your driving lessons will be tailored to your needs and experience, beginners will first learn how to use the controls of the car in a quiet and safe environment. Once familiar with the controls, you will be expertly guided around Colchester whilst your experienced driving instructor provides you with useful advice helping you feel comfortable and safe behind the wheel.

Learning to Drive - Getting Started

The minimum age to learn to drive is 17, so assuming you are 17 or older the first step is to aquire a provisional driving licence from the DVLA - click here to apply for your provisional driving licence - which will normally arrive within 2 weeks of the DVLA receiving your application. It can take longer if you need to notify the DVLA about any driving related medical conditions. You also need to read a car number plate from 20.5 metres away (approximately 5 car lengths) using your glasses or contact lenses if you need them. Now you are ready to start driving lessons with a driving instructor. Exciting stuff!

Choosing an Instructor

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) there are 338 Approved Driving Instructors in the Colchester area at the time of writing. Choosing the perfect one for you is a difficult task as you can hardly try all 338 instructors.

It is best to try an instructor who is able to fit your availability, that bit is fairly obvious. What is less obvious is price, should you pay more or less per hour? Well, to be honest the answer is in the price, if an instructor is able to charge more this is a good sign that they have enough customers willing to pay more. On the other hand an instructor who is less successful would have to lower their prices to try to make their service seem more appealing. So with driving lessons you normally get what you pay for, but consider this, if you save £2 per hour but it takes you 10 hours longer to learn to drive, are you really saving money?

Asking people you know who have recently learnt to drive and reading online reviews is a reliable way of narrowing down your choice, people are rarely willing to recommend a service unless they are very happy with it.

Try calling the instructor, when you speak to someone - even over the phone, you can normally judge if you would feel comfortable sitting next to them. You can also get a good idea if they sound experienced and confident in their ability to help you. You want the best instructor for you so trust your senses and listen to how you feel about them.

Manual or Automatic Driving Lessons?

This is an important choice to consider, learning in a manual without doubt will take a little longer but as coffee lovers will tell you instant isn't always better. It can be more fulfilling to smell the aromatic aromas whilst grinding the coffee beans yourself instead of sticking a teaspoon of instant in you favourite cup.

But after all you are reading about learning to drive not an energising beverage so I'll try to stay on point. Manuals are dying; it is true, the numbers don't lie but everything comes to an end eventually; even a mountain will erode to sea level given enough time. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders 40% of cars sold in 2017 had an automatic gearbox, in 2007 it was around 23% so automatic sales are increasing in place of manuals.

This partly due to the fact automatic gearboxes have changed a lot in the 21st century so they are now more efficient than the energy sapping automatics of yester-century. Also, the increasing sales of hybrid and electric cars are contributing to that increase of automatics. Having said that, the average age of a car on UK roads is 7 years and manuals have a lot of life left in them. Companies like Porsche and Aston Martin are starting to sell special manual editions of their automatic only cars because demand for the manual is still strong. The majority of cars on the road are still manual and that will be the case for a while yet, therefore even today 92% of people opt to take manual driving lessons as most people prefer the freedom to drive all cars instead of being restricted to only automatic.

Interestingly enough despite being easier, automatic driving tests have an 8% higher failure rate than manual. This is definitely a case where correlation doesn't always equal causation, the higher failure rate is likely because some of the people opting for automatic driving lessons do so because they find driving more challenging than the average learner and therefore are less likely to pass a driving test even if it is easier.

Whether you decide to drive a manual or an automatic after your driving test, manual driving lessons will help you become a better driver. To be successful in a manual you need to learn to stay calm, compose yourself and get the car fully prepared before you reach any junctions or hazards. This encourages you to learn to look ahead and plan unlike auto driving lessons where you only have two pedals and no gears to consider. A lot of people who learn in a manual learn to love the manual, this is one of the reasons they have stayed so popular for so long on our twisty roads. There is a form of satisfaction to be had from performing a clean crisp gear change on a winding B road or the extra control a clutch can give you when the weather gets bad and the roads get slippery.

However, if you want the quickest route to a licence and don't mind being limited to automatic transmission cars, automatic driving lessons will be for you. With gear less electric cars firmly on the horizon I'm sure the manual driving licence will likely become a thing of the past, but not until at least 2045 by which time petrol and diesel engined vehicles are predicted to make up a minority of the cars on our roads. But no one knows for sure what the future will bring.

Petrol or Diesel Driving Lessons?

Diesel engines have two main advantages: pulling power and efficiency. Diesel vehicles are more capable at pulling weight which is why they're used in lorries and for towing caravans etc. However the main advantage for passenger cars is their efficiency, typically a petrol engine will have an efficiency of around 30% but a diesel can be as much as 45%. This means that for 100% of the fuel you put in the tank, 55% is wasted as heat and noise and 45% actually gets converted into kinetic energy (movement). In a petrol engine only 30% of the fuel gets used for pushing the car along and sometimes it can be as little as 20%.

However diesel fuel normally costs more and diesel cars are generally more expensive to buy and maintain. Especially newer diesels; since euro 5 emission standards came into force in September 2009 it has been compulsory to fit diesel cars with expensive filters in the the exhaust to reduce harmful particulates and nitrogen oxides. Long term exposure to these pollutants are known to cause adverse health affects and are believed to be responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Petrol engines with their lower combustion chamber temperatures produce far less of these pollutants. Couple that to the fact that petrol engines have been catching up with their diesel counterparts in terms of efficiency and pulling power, diesel car sales have sharply declined in recent years to the point where manufacturers are starting to withdraw them from their line ups. In February 2018 Toyota announced the worlds most efficient production petrol engine with an efficiency of 40% which is close to most diesel engines.

So should you do driving lessons in petrol or a diesel? Learning to drive in a diesel and a petrol both have their own advantages, most people will say diesels are harder to stall, which is true but I'll come back to that later. A diesel car is less refined which actually makes it easier to learn clutch control and when to change gear. This is because diesels are louder and send stronger vibrations through the clutch which make it easier to judge where the bite point is. The fact they're louder makes it easier to hear when the engine wants you to change gear also.

However, driving lessons in a petrol can be more relaxing and confidence inspiring, this is down to two main reasons: stalling and gear choice. Earlier I mentioned that diesel cars are harder to stall, but with the latest fuel injection systems modern petrol cars are also fairly hard to stall, the biggest advantage of a petrol car is how they stall.

When a learner driver stalls in a diesel the car jerks so violently with an almighty bang that you feel like you've had a small collision. This lowers the confidence of the learner and confidence building is a crucial part of driving lessons. Most petrol cars on the other hand stall very gently. Another petrol driving lesson advantage is when you mistakenly select the wrong gear. During the course of a driving lesson it is quiet likely that the pupil will select the wrong gear, but in a petrol car you can normally be one gear too high or low with out too much trouble. But select the wrong gear in a diesel and the car will either vibrate with the intensity of an earthquake or lurch along the road like a kangaroo.

As a driving instructor who has been teaching since the beginning of 2009 in both diesel and petrol cars, I would choose a petrol everyday for my driving lessons. Even though I spend a bit more on fuel, my pupils find the learning process far more calming and the extra fuel cost is normally recouped when I have to change the clutch - which is cheaper on a petrol - and I don't have to worry about those annoying exhaust particulate filters blocking up as they do on diesels.

Why Some Find it Hard

Some people find their driving lessons a walk in the park and for some getting a driving licence is one of the more challenging hurdles in life. Why is this? Well there are three things a learner driver is trying to improve during their driving lessons. Knowledge, skill and confidence, when you have enough of all three you will pass the driving test. It is my experience that there is little difference between the ability of learner drivers to improve their knowledge and skill, after all driving is a fairly simple skill and the rules are mostly common sense.

The two main differences between a natural driver and a slow learner are normally confidence and mental approach.

Confidence: If you find driving lessons challenging, try to find a way to increase your confidence and you'll find that you will start to improve. Not only that, you’re likely to start enjoying your driving lessons and may even look forward to them.

However improving your confidence during driving lessons can be akin to growing an extra set of limbs... Well maybe not that hard but challenging none the less. Unfortunately there is no quick and easy way to improve confidence. Confidence will normally grow with success, so the best advice is to be patient and only attempt tasks that you're likely to achieve, however big or small they may be. When you’re attempting what you can achieve you will normally start to flourish.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you will improve your confidence by being brave and jumping in at the deep end. In doing this, all your fears about learning to drive are likely to come true leaving you feeling less confident than you were when you started. Your driving instructor should manage your lessons well and ensure you're only subjected to achievable tasks. Spending too much time on something that is currently out of reach can leave you feeling demoralised. Better to practise something more achievable and work you way up, getting to the top rung of the ladder from the bottom in one step may never work but climbing one rung at a time is easy.

Mental Approach: It’s also very important that your mental approach is going to help you learn and not hinder you. A mental approach that may hinder you is one where you’re trying to pass the driving test from the very beginning.

If you have never driven a car before you will have no skill when you start driving lessons, this is perfectly normal as you have no practise and it takes practise to get skill, rarely are people born naturally with the skill of driving.

So when you start your driving lessons, instead of trying to drive like a test standard learner, try to spend your time learning how to drive. Put your full focus into learning the car, taking your time with the pedals and hand controls to get a good feel for them. Go slow to give yourself time to read the road signs and road markings to allow yourself to learn how the road works. Definitely don’t worry about if you’re too slow for a driving test or the fact you have missed 3 opportunities at a junction, none of this matters until you’re in the latter stages of learning. All that matters is that you’re learning how to drive, not already able to drive, after all, if you could already drive, why would you need driving lessons?

Also, until you have a good mental approach you’re unlikely to be successful which will impact your confidence and slow the learning process. So when you want to learn, put your time into learning, the car that’s very close behind who would like you to go faster will have to wait until they can pass you. We were all learners once.

Will Driverless Cars Replace the Driving Licence?

If you keep up to date with the news you may well believe that "driverless" cars are going to be zipping people around by the early 2020s. So taking driving lessons will soon become a thing of the past, right? Before you decide that driverless taxis will soon replace the need for driving lessons, it may be a good idea to consider some of the hurdles driverless cars need to overcome.

Us humans are very good a recognising what we see, for example if you saw a small part of a tree you would know it was a tree without having to see the whole thing. If you were to look away from you phone or computer's screen right now, you could probably identify everything you see. Not only could you identify everything but, you would know what is further, closer, moving, not moving and the direction in which things are moving. Believe it or not, even though a computer can do calculations in a fraction of a second that would take most of us humans hours, a computer is not very good at identifying objects. They can try to use radar and or Lidar to help overcome this problem but even with these systems a computer is currently no match for a human at object recognition. This of course can prove somewhat of a problem when negotiating the streets of the world reliably.

There are also ethical issues that need to be sorted before driving lessons become a thing of the past. For example, who should a car save in an emergency? When a human reacts in an emergency, the outcome of the reaction is not seen as the human's responsibility because a reaction is not deliberate. But if a computer is in a position where it has to choose between the occupants of the car or the pedestrian, the computer's decision is deliberate and calculated. In fact, it's likely a human would have programmed the computer to make such a decision before the car was even made. Who gets to decide who lives and will they program cars that transport people such as the royal family or the prime minister differently?

Then there is security, anything controlled by a computer has a possibility of being hacked, would this allow criminals to "kidnap" unsuspecting individuals?

Something else that makes me believe driverless cars will not be replacing driving lessons and the driving licence anytime soon is the fact that I still have to fill my car up with screen wash. Yes, that may sound fairly irrelevant but I also have to fill it up with fuel and clean it. So what's the point I'm making? All these tasks are easier than driving the car so wouldn't we have robots in our homes that can cook, clean and fill up the screen wash before we have robotic cars that drive us around our unpredictable and partially broken road system?

I understand that there is big money to be made from driverless cars so there are many people investing huge sums of money to advance the technology at a faster rate. Money makes things happen so it may be possible to see driverless cars before we see a house robot akin to bicentennial man (I love that film) keeping our houses in good condition and cooking us healthy food from scratch instead of relying on the microwave and takeaways when we don't have enough time to cook. On a personal note, I would like such a robot because I hate house chores but I quite enjoy driving so I'm not in a hurry to delegate that task. But then I may be different to most people, I am a driving instructor after all so it makes sense that I like driving.

Even if there was a perfect driverless car today, how would that upset our worlds economy. I'm not just talking driving instructors giving driving lessons. There is a significant percentage of people who make their living by driving, so even if a true driverless car existed, I have a great suspicion that legislation would slow the number of driverless cars being sold to allow the market to adapt and prevent an economic catastrophe from a sudden and major change in the world's available jobs.

Another reason I'm confident driverless cars won't be replacing the driving licence anytime soon is that all the driverless car examples I've seen have had some sort of caveat to how they work. Some require a human to take control when the computer can't handle the situation and others can only drive on very specific routes that are carefully preplanned, this is known as geofencing. Driverless cars have come a long way since the beginning of the century, but taking them to the next step where they would be reliable enough to replace a human taking driving lessons and learning to drive seems a long way off from where I'm standing. If I was thinking about learning to drive, I would still take driving lessons.