The calamities of learning to drive

March 5, 2010

Everyone has a learning experience to share don’t they? It could be a wild incident leaving your dad clinging to the passenger seat in horror, or just one of those embarrassing moments when all you want to do is curl up and disappear. It happens to everyone. Everyone stalls; everyone has incidents they would rather forget, so how do we know when it’s part of the ‘learning curve’ or when frankly we’re just not safe enough to be let on the roads.

I’ve had my moments we all have. That time when you were waiting at the traffic lights, watching helplessly as they turned from red to green and back to red again- the angry rush hour traffic slowly building up, the walk of shame as you had swap places with your Dad. Some people just don’t understand what the huge L on the back of the car stands for. Cringe worthy moments like this I can deal with but when it gets dangerous, it gets scary.

It was just a normal driving lesson until I reached the hill. You would think that after having over twenty lessons I would be able to drive up a hill- a pretty steep hill but nevertheless a hill. Feeling pretty confident I hit the gas and start to drive pretty steadily up the hill. It’s all going fine, I slip it into third or perhaps I just miss it? I don’t really know. I’m in neutral, the car roars at me, I’m hitting the gas but the car slows down, I panic, the car rolls backwards, the car is rolling pretty fast, my feet are shaking and I can’t control the car and then it dawned on me I had no idea what I was doing.

Except for the blind panic and screaming on my part the incident wasn’t too horrific. I was just so shaken. It’s the feeling you have afterwards. Imagining what could have happened. If I had been in the car on my own who would have been there to pull the handbrake- when in all honesty I had my eyes tightly shut? Who would have been there to tell me exactly what to do? Would I have ever stopped rolling? As a learner you could say that I’m here to learn from these experiences but what if after all this time I’m simply just a bad driver?

The thing about driving is that it all happens so quickly, you can’t be prepared for anything. You just have got to find the confidence to deal with it and move on. You have to be calm and unfortunately- I’m not. It’s not only you who could be hurt it’s the people in the car with you; it’s the other people on the road.

I’ve had friends who’ve crashed. I’ve known people stranded in the centre of a round-a-bout after taking the turn too fast. Is it the legal driving age is too relaxed or are we simply too young to cope with such huge responsibility? It could be merely the nature of learning; the fact that we are inexperienced and prone to mistakes. I really don’t know, but what I do know is that driving is a learning curve; we all make errors but it doesn’t mean we are terrible drivers. We have to persevere, learn from it and improve (or in severe cases stick to a bike) In the wise words of Miley Cyrus it’s all about the climb, but sometimes that hill can be just too steep.

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