Five things I wish I knew before getting my driver’s licence
This will help prepare you for your journey.
Having a driver’s licence is something almost every 18-year-old Singaporean looks forward to.
Getting a licence gives you the privilege to drive, making it more convenient when it comes to travelling. Driving is much faster than public transport and gives you more privacy.
Getting a driver’s licence, however, does sound easier than it really is.
When I enrolled for my driver’s course, I realised that not all of the answers to my questions can be found on the driving centre’s website. For example, no one told me that my picture will be taken on the same day as my eyesight test and now, I look like I just rolled out of bed in my ID picture.
To help you make your journey a smoother one, here are five things you should know before enrolling for a driver’s licence.
1. Lessons and tests are not cheap
One important thing to remember is that you’ve got to be prepared to spend.
There is an enrollment fee of around $50 for six months, followed by an eye test and a picture taken which cost less than $10 each. You will also most likely have to purchase the basic and final theory books which are $6 each.
Once you pass the theory tests, you will have to pay for driving lessons, the simulator training and the final Traffic Police (TP) test itself. Each driving lesson could range from $30 to $90 and a session for the driving simulator training costs around $27. The TP test could cost you around $300.
You should take your time to compare prices across the driving centres. Some also have packages that may represent more value for money.
And if your parents are not sponsoring you for your driver’s lessons, it’s best to save up beforehand. Personally, I would recommend having at least $2,500 on hand.
2. It might take longer than expected
If you have other priorities like school or work, getting your licence will definitely take more than four months.
Unfortunately with COVID-19, slots can be scarce, especially when bookings get postponed when positive cases are recorded.
I had bookings that were cancelled – having waited two months for it – because of a COVID-19 case at the driving centre. The centre had to close down for disinfection and, as my booking was during the disinfection period, it was cancelled automatically. By the time I logged in to make a new booking, the earliest dates were three months away.
To avoid situations like this, it is best to always keep yourself updated about the centre’s booking slots. Additionally, you should check slots frequently as cancellations happen quite often during the pandemic.
3. The difference between private and school
You will be given an option to either enrol as a private student or enrol with the school.
There are differences between both.
As a student with the school, you will have to attend theory lessons in a classroom setting – though most lessons are now held online. Your practical lessons will also be conducted in a stricter manner – you will need to complete the objective of a lesson to be able to progress to the next lesson.
You will also have different instructors every lesson unless you are willing to pay more for the same instructor. Each school’s practical lesson can cost around $80 for almost one and a half hours.
On the other hand, enrolling as a private student allows you to do things at your own pace, perfect for busy schedules. Private lessons may cost less too, depending on the experience and passing rate of the instructor’s students.
However, you will definitely need some self-discipline when it comes to doing self revisions and attending practical lessons.
4. Staying confident, but not too confident
Once you pass your basic theory test, you will have to apply for a provisional driving licence to start your practical lessons.
When driving on public roads, it is normal to feel nervous around experienced drivers. You will definitely face those who are either impatient or unaware that you’re still learning, and some drivers can even be reckless.
You are bound to make mistakes during practical lessons. It could be something like accidentally driving over a curb, not checking blind spots or forgetting to signal.
You may even face some “close calls” with other drivers. They may honk at you or even put you in a dangerous situation just to overtake you.
Such experiences can be nerve-racking, sometimes reducing your confidence on the road. It is important to not let it get to your head.
It is also important to not let these setbacks make you doubt yourself. Your instructor will be next to you, guiding you. It is alway reminded to stay alert because sometimes, these incidents are not even your fault.
5. How getting a licence can feel like a competition
You probably won’t be the only one among your friends to enrol for a drivers licence.
This also means that comparisons among your friends and yourself on the speed of your progression can be quite common – no surprise given the Singaporeans’ kiasu-ism.
My friends and I enrolled in the same year when all of us turned 18. I also have relatives of the same age so naturally, my mother would compare me to them. The constant comparison became quite annoying to me.
My only advice is to ignore such comments and remember that at the end of the day, it is your own journey and progress, not theirs.
You will definitely face hardships, but that is fine because everyone faces similar difficulties. Once you finally get your driver’s licence, it will all be worth it.