You’re struggling to get through your driver’s test. But don’t worry. Here are some easy but logical tips to follow if you’re making that excruciating drive to the local testing yards. No longer will you hear the ominous ‘dead man walking’ running through your mind. Steady on and take a deep breath. You’ll soon be able to borrow your mom’s Toyota, rent a car or save up for that bakkie safe knowing that you can actually drive the darn thing.

Be pedantic

Nobody passes their test by showing the instructor all the fancy tricks and flair you’ve picked up while joyriding your father’s VW in the middle of the night. They want to see every indicator and every blind spot checked. That handbrake must get pulled up more times than you want to remember.

Don’t panic if it rains

This is actually a good thing! While signs and road markings may be obscured if it is really pouring, the instructor will provide some leeway if they are understanding of the situation. What really helps though is that you will naturally drive slower. This will reign in any overconfidence you may have and will only cause you to be extra careful.

Always be aware

Sometimes in the heat of the test, you forget that humans even exist. Be sure to stop at the zebra crossings if there are people waiting. It can often slip your mind when you are stuck inside your indestructible bubble. As well as pedestrians, you should look out for drivers that have developed bad habits or break the law. Be mindful that anything can happen and those inconsiderate few who change lanes illegally or run a red light can really be a danger to you and your passengers.

The dreaded yard

This is when having a driving instructor really pays off. Nobody in their right minds would encourage you to take the test by feel. Learn the tricks that you need. Acquire visual cues and distance markers with cones and the curb. Again, be confident but don’t let that over-confidence fool you. If you do the yard methodically, you will be guaranteed to defeat the old nemesis.

Stay calm

Don’t worry if you’re nervous. There is a big difference between a natural bout of nerves and crumbling into a sweaty wreck. Your judge will sit with eagle eyes, noticing your shakes and quaking voice. Always be aware of the pressure on the pedal. Your unease might cause you to speed without you noticing. If this does happen, the driving test will be over and you will fail immediately. Just focus, take even breaths and remember that you will settle down once you get into the swing of things.

Don’t let them trick you!

It’s the simplest things that can really get you. There have been horror stories where people have failed their test because the key suddenly gets jammed or your tires are ‘too smooth’. As obvious as it seems, make sure the car is off before you put the keys into the ignition. These may be little traps that the tester will set for you and it is easy to fall into them. Near the end, be careful to watch your speed! Things are nearly over. Don’t take a turn which you haven’t been told to take. Always listen to where the instructor tells you to go.

These aren’t meant to scare you but are meant to help you. Don’t shy away from the dreaded driving test problems and be brave. Be aware that this is meant to be challenging and you’re ultimately going through this suffering to be a fellow responsible driver. They are not looking for speedy or flashy racers but those who are methodical and aware.