I can drive. I really can. For the most part, safely. Sometimes I don’t respond early enough to stuff moving slowly ahead of me in time to change lanes (like a bus, or cyclist) when on dual carriageways, and my instructor thinks I take the odd corner a bit quick, but generally, I can drive.
There are 5 hours of lessons left until I take my test, so just over 2 weeks, and while, like all tests, being able to drive is not the only measure of success, it’s a good starting point surely?
I was really disheartened after last week’s lesson, but not for any good reason to be fair. So between that and this week, after a small break, I made sure I once again drove everywhere I could with Greté, and I really tried to focus hard on checking mirrors before indicating, slowing or approaching traffic lights and it helped, in two ways. Firstly, I forgot about the ‘controlling the car with your hands and feet bit’, I forced it to the back of my mind and allowed muscle memory to do it, rather than thinking about it all the time. Secondly, I actually remembered to use the mirrors!
When I went out for the lesson yesterday it was pretty much just 2 hours of driving to places I’d never been, handling the traffic and junctions without any stupid mistakes. Sure, I’m still missing 10 years of experience and finesse, sometimes I sit too long at a junction, sometimes I get stuck behind a bus on a dual carriageway, but my instructor was really pleased with the driving and admitted she was being picky over the 2 or 3 things she did bring up.
The only moment where control was an issue was right at the start, braking as we neared the end of our street. Having driven our car for a week, I’d forgotten how aggressive the brakes are in the lesson car, so even though I was only doing about 5mph, when I stopped I put both our faces against the windscreen. Other than that it was good. As I realised half way through the lesson that my hands and feet had started working on their own, and that I never once doubted my ability to start, stop or pull away from a junction I started to enjoy it.
My instructor was trying really hard to get me driving around places I’d never been, but she needn’t have bothered. I was concentrating so hard on checking the mirrors that I have no idea where we went. My view was the road, and just about nothing else. Only when I stopped at some lights for quite some time did I realise we were behind the Broadmarsh car park, having entered Nottingham on the east side somehow, and were now headed west towards Derby. That was slightly worrying, since I know it’s quite a busy route, both in and out, but head out we did, and I handled everything quite well.
My main challenge is still trying to avoid over-thinking stuff. If you read the first post in this series, here, you’ll see that was my problem at the start as well. However, the focus of the issue has shifted. I’m no longer over-thinking the process of learning to drive and sorting out lessons, but I am spending a lot of time thinking about ‘should I pass that bus – oh too late’ or ‘should I indicate right to get around that cyclist – oh too late’ or ‘is there enough room for me and that other car between those parked vehicles – too late – breath in‘ for example.
I know I’ll get there, I’ve stopped over-thinking controlling the car with my feet, and I know I’ll get past the over-thinking the higher level stuff – the outstanding question is, will 5 more hours be enough to convince the examiner I’m safe to drive.