Learner driver tips for blind spots, stopping distances, roundabouts and hill starts

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Blind spots
Stopping distances
Hill starts
Learner insurance

Learning to drive can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re learning the basics or polishing up on your skills before the driving test, there is much to consider.

Some manoeuvres and tasks are trickier than others, though. Once you've mastered finding the biting point and pulling away, you need to learn how to do it on a hill, too. And it's all very well and good tackling a left turn on a quiet road, but what about a busy roundabout? Nobody said it was easy!

We've got helpful tips for this and more below 👇

Blind spots

When you’re driving, a blind spot is a part of the road that you can’t see in your wing mirrors or rearview mirror.

They’re usually towards the back of the car on the left and right side. The biggest blind spot is on the right side – over the driver’s right shoulder.

Because you can’t see blind spots in your car’s mirrors, you need to check them by actually looking (physically glancing over your right shoulder, for example).

You should always check your blind spots:

  • Before you move off from a stationary position
  • When you merge onto motorways, or change lanes on a motorway
  • When you’re joining and leaving roundabouts
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Stopping distances

In driving terms, a stopping distance is the amount of space you need to be able to come to a stop without crashing into the car in front of you if it stops suddenly.

As a learner driver, it’s really important to understand stopping distances because you could fail your test if you drive too close to the cars in front of you.

Stopping distances change depending on how fast you’re going. For example, at 20mph, it typically takes 40 feet to stop, including thinking time and braking time (that’s about the same as three cars lengthways).

Here’s a brief breakdown of stopping distances in good conditions:

  • 20mph = 40 feet
  • 30mph = 75 feet
  • 40mph = 118 feet
  • 50mph = 174 feet
  • 60mph = 240 feet
  • 70mph = 315 feet

When it’s wet, you should double the distance between your car and the car in front. When it’s icy, give a lot more room - up to 10 times as much.

Scrubbing up on your stopping distance knowledge is a must for your theory and practical driving tests 🤓

It feels great to pass your driving test
It feels great to pass your driving test
Bonus reading 📚
Check out our learner driver cheat sheet for the practical test. Learn more.


Roundabouts are designed to help keep traffic flowing. You travel round them in a clockwise route, and you always give way to cars coming from the right.

So, say you’re waiting at a busy roundabout – you need to wait until there’s a clear spot with no cars coming from the right before you enter it.

(By the way - we've partnered with Otimo, a learner driver app that helps with everything from theory test practice to getting the low-down on practical test routes. Download the 'Otimo: for Learner Drivers' app, choose '1 Month' during the sign-up process, and then get 50% off the first month of your Otimo subscription by selecting 'redeem code' and entering CUVVA50 🔥)

When you’re approaching a roundabout you should always check your mirrors and indicate depending on which direction you’re going.

Indicate left if you’re exiting the roundabout at one of the exits to the left. Right for any exits over to the right. If you’re going straight on (so, the exit directly across from where you’re waiting to enter the roundabout), don’t signal on the approach, but do signal left once you’re getting ready to leave the roundabout.

Roundabouts can feel a bit stressful as a learner driver – but getting plenty of practice in with your instructor will have you feeling confident in no time 💪

Hill starts

Urgh – the dreaded hill start. It can be a tricky one to master when you’re learning to drive. But once you’ve got it, you’ll be set for life.

A hill start is where you have to set off driving from a stationary position when you’re on a hill (or any road sloping up or down).

They’re more difficult than just setting off on a level road because you’ve got gravity working against you. So you need to practise better clutch control.

You’ll be asked to do a hill start in your practical driving test. To do one successfully, you should make sure you have the handbrake on when you go to release the clutch and press the accelerator.

This’ll make sure you don’t roll backwards or forwards (depending on if you’re facing up or down the hill) if you accidentally stall the car.

You should only release the handbrake when the clutch starts biting (that’s the point where you’ve partially pressed down the accelerator and partially released the clutch and the car feels like it’s going to move off).

Try to keep the clutch biting as you release the handbrake – only releasing it when the car starts to move forward. Sorted.

Learning to drive can be stressful but with practice you’ll master the skills you need
Learning to drive can be stressful but with practice you’ll master the skills you need

Learner driver insurance and tips

Don’t forget: you can’t hit the road for practise without your learner driver car insurance. Cuvva has policies by the hour, perfect for fine-tuning your skills. It only takes a few minutes to get a quote.

We’ve got plenty more learner driver tips, too. Check out our guides on how to drive a manual car, how to drive an automatic car and how to parallel park. We’ve got much more here.

Updated on 3rd April 2023