Students: 8 Essential Skills for New Learner Drivers in 2023

Learning to drive is one of the most exciting parts of a person’s life. There are few things as freeing as getting behind the wheel for the first time but there are also dozens of things to take into account before you begin your journey into driving.

As a new learner driver in 2023, there are several essential skills that you need to develop to become a safe and confident driver on the road and pass your test first time with flying colours. The 8 skills below will not only help you to pass your driving test, but also prepare you for the challenges and responsibilities of driving in the real world.

Vehicle control

Vehicle control is one of the most important skills for any new learner driver. You need to learn how to operate the vehicle safely and smoothly, including how to accelerate, brake, and steer. It’s also important to understand how to use the vehicle’s controls, such as the headlights, turn signals, and windscreen wipers.

Observation and hazard perception

Observation and hazard perception skills are crucial for safe driving. You need to be able to scan the road ahead, anticipate potential hazards, and respond quickly to changing road conditions. This includes checking your mirrors, looking out for pedestrians and cyclists, and being aware of other drivers around you.

Defensive driving

Defensive driving is all about being proactive and avoiding potential accidents. This involves maintaining a safe following distance, anticipating other drivers’ actions, and being prepared to react quickly in case of an emergency. It also means being aware of your surroundings and road conditions and adjusting your driving accordingly and safely.

Spatial awareness and positioning

Spatial awareness and positioning skills are essential for driving safely and confidently. You need to know how to position your vehicle on the road, how to judge distances, and how to navigate through traffic. This also involves understanding the rules of the road, such as how to merge, change lanes, and navigate roundabouts.

Communication and cooperation

Communication and cooperation skills are important for driving safely and smoothly with other road users. This involves using your turn signals to communicate your intentions, following traffic rules and signs, and being courteous to other drivers. It also means being aware of other drivers’ needs and being willing to make allowances when necessary.


While not exactly a skill, knowing where you stand as far as learner driver insurance is concerned is one of the first things you’ll want to consider. You are, after all, more likely to get into an accident while learning, even with a tutor guiding you. It’s also illegal to drive in a car you or your family own without insurance, even as a learner.

If you’re learning in an instructor’s car then you might not need to worry but if your family is teaching you then you’ll need insurance.

Situational awareness

Situational awareness and risk management skills are crucial for safe driving. This involves being aware of potential hazards and risks on the road, such as bad weather, poor visibility, and high traffic volume. It also means understanding the consequences of your actions.

Decision making

When you’re behind a wheel, every decision you make could be incredibly important. Learning to make split-second decisions is one of the fundamentals of driving that rarely gets spoken about. However, if you struggle with making decisions in the moment, it’s something you’ll really need to work on before hitting the road for the first time.