Is Learning in a Automatic Cheating ?

By John Lendrum - February 1st, 2015 | Posted in Article

Recently one of the Lendrum’s Driving School pupils – Sophie – had failed a driving test for the second time. Sophie questioned her ability and suddenly lost her confidence, worrying that she would never pass a test. When a student who has tried so hard loses confidence, it is a tough challenge to turn them around and get them to believe in themselves.

It was decided not to book another test straight away to take away the pressure and work on her confidence. We arranged another lesson and after some deep thought, I came up with an idea that I thought could help her.

When I turned up to take Sophie for her lesson with the Mini Automatic, she jumped in the car with her usual big smile and was surprised at the new car. I explained that the idea of the lesson in the Mini Automatic was to build confidence by taking away worry of gears and clutch, but not to turn her to Automatic lessons.

The lessons started by explaining the controls and that the Mini Automatic would go when you want it to and not roll back on a hill. Sophie was a little apprehensive at first but she approached the first junction superbly, so far so good, then the roundabout which would normally make Sophie a little tense, but not that day. Removing the stress of gears and the clutch allowed Sophie to get down to the real business of driving.

As the lesson went on Sophie performed at her best, without any help from me and as the lesson finished she was beaming with confidence and smiling. Sophie was amazed at how well she drove and although I never doubted her, she realised that she would work herself up over changing gear. Sophie loved the car and wanted another Automatic lesson so we did and worked on more roundabouts, hills and reversing with not one error in her driving, which once again took her confidence to the highest level I had seen.

The result was way beyond what I could imagine. After two lessons in the Mini Automatic, Sophie returned to the Mini Manual. Sophie was concerned that she would make the same mistakes, so we discussed what differences she had made in the Automatic, earlier observations, positive thoughts and believing in herself.

As Sophie pulled away, without me making any comments, she seemed to imagine she was still in the Automatic, slowed and dropped a gear, started looking and said “I can go” and from that moment her confidence blossomed and she drove with little effort or error. Sophie has become so much more confident since having a couple lessons in the mini Automatic and is looking forward to her next test.

This inspired me to try the same exercise on some other pupils who were lacking in some confidence due to varying reasons. Over the next few months Sarah, Alan and Ann tried some lessons in the Mini Automatic. Each were amazed at the ease of driving and relaxed into their driving, seeing signs, dealing with junctions and hazards without any help or worry. Each have thrived from the experience and become stronger drivers with better confidence.

There is a lot of stigma in the UK about driving an Automatic car which puts people off and a lot of peer pressure with people saying “Automatic is not real driving and you will regret it after”. I have driven a manual car for 20 years and when I bought the Mini Automatic to complement Lendrum’s Driving School I was amazed how lovely it was to drive.

Does Automatic stop you being a real driver? No. What makes a good driver? Good awareness, planning, control and hazard perception  control of a vehicle you won’t pass a test or be a good driver. Driving an Automatic is more pleasurable than driving a manual, unless you are driving a high performance car like a Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini and if you have not tried it, I highly recommend it! I even convinced my petrol head of a wife to drive the automatic and now I have to convince her to let me borrow the car!!!!!

Driving is about comfort and enjoyment. Feeling frightened or anxious can lead to accidents, so if you are someone who feels this way while learning, or if you are a driver, don’t be afraid to try Automatic – it may be the way to help you enjoy driving more. Why not read our Automatic v Manual blog to discover more

From this exercise it has inspired Lendrum Driving School to let all pupils experience the luxury of the Mini Automatic and to remove the stigma attached to Automatic driving.


If you would like to try our beautiful Mini Automatic contact us on the Enquiry form and we will be happy to give you an experience you won’t regret or forget.

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