I’ve been learning to drive for a while now. My lessons have been fairly spread out, largely due to the cost as paying for them with a student budget is quite hard! Why are they so expensive?! Actually I could probably answer that myself: they are expensive because the instructor has to get in a car driven by people like me. And I’m not really that bad. My instructor tells me he’s had much worse and, considering he once had to grab the wheel while I was driving, I dread to think how bad these other learners were! I’m hoping to be able to pass before the end of the summer. I feel like that is a fairly achievable goal.
I should have really started learning earlier and got the test passed before I came to university (mainly so I wouldn’t have had to learn to drive in a city!) but I didn’t really have the money then either. Also, living in a rural area many of my friends whose birthdays were before mine were keen to drive and to get a car so I tended to rely on my generous friends to give me lifts everywhere instead of learning myself. Now I realise that I need to learn, certainly before I leave university. Not only is it practically a necessity if I were to return to live at home but I think it counts as one of those life skills that you can be sure that you will need at some point. It’s also something that can be put on my CV should I need to drive in a future prospective job.
I can’t quite decide whether I like driving or not. I was very nervous for my first lesson and thankfully the nerves have lessened as I’ve had more lessons but I still dread them just a little bit. I know that I’ll be fine, particularly as the instructor’s car has dual control so if there is any emergency breaking to be done, I know that I won’t run anyone over. Some of my friends told me how the worst bit of learning is when you make mistakes that irritate other drivers – like stalling at a junction or just travelling too slow – but personally, I’ve found out that I don’t really care. I couldn’t give a damn about whether I annoy other drivers. I’m only learning so it’s not really my fault! I’m trying my best and everybody had to learn at some point. I just feel more annoyed with myself for making the mistake when I’ve done it right before. So if you’re ever following a learner driver, cut them some slack and remember what it was like when you were first learning to drive.
When you’re learning the correct procedures for every manoeuvre, you realise that a lot of other drivers don’t do it right either and it makes you aware of how many people perhaps need a refresher lesson themselves! Having said that, I can see why people don’t follow everything they’ve learnt exactly. Much to my mortification, my instructor once made me practise hand signals out of the car window. Hand signals!! Who gives hand signals in a car? I have never seen a driver give hand signals and I doubt I ever will. Ridiculous.
Roundabouts are particularly scary. I once idiotically booked a 2 hour lesson from 4 till 6pm not remembering that it would be rush hour during this time and this was the lesson my driving instructor decided we would do roundabouts for the first time. There were far too many cars on the road and I just remember thinking ‘I’m never going to be able to pull out!’. There just seems to be an impossible number of things to think about doing roundabouts which I think (hope) will become automatic once I’ve done them more frequently. My Dad seemed to think I’d be able to take my test after about 3 lessons when I was booking my first one. It was obvious that he had forgotten how difficult driving on the roads with other traffic is when controlling the vehicle is not yet instinctive.
In my last lesson I seemed to lose the capability to determine which was left and right. After I’d put the indicator on the wrong way or starting going the opposite direction to what I’d indicated for about the third time, my instructor asked me to pull over. I don’t know why on earth I was being so scatty but the instructor was understandably more than a little alarmed. Hopefully in my next lesson I will have regained my ability to process left and right in my brain. I’m supposed to be starting the manoeuvres: bay parking, parallel parking and turn in the road so perhaps direction won’t be quite so important…although I’m sure the instructor would disagree on that point. Hopefully I won’t take too long to get the hang of them and most importantly I hope I remain able to hang on to the ‘no disasters/crashes’ claim!