Learning to Drive
SOME new regulations came into effect last recently for newly-qualified drivers. Drivers are now required to display a ‘novice’ plate on their car for two years after they’ve passed their driving test and there have been changes made to the alcohol limits and number of penalty points a novice driver can accumulate.
Once you finally have enough money saved up to start taking lessons and buy a car or borrow a car, things start to get real and you realise you’re actually going to have to make the wheelie thing move. Easy, right? But there’s also that tiny obstacle they call a driving test. The driving test is a rite of passage that fills most learner drivers with dread. The thoughts of a stranger sitting beside you while you chauffeur them around and try to look completely in control is pretty daunting. How can you seem calm and collected when you’re trying to remember hundreds of rules your instructor has been shouting at you for the last few months? Praying that you get green lights all the way and your car doesn’t cut out, checking your mirrors like a crazy person to show off your awesome observation skills and trying desperately not to confuse the indicators with the wipers? Talk about the ultimate multi-task!
I was really excited to start driving. I couldn’t wait to get out on the road and be free to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. My daydreams of road trips to the seaside, distant shopping havens and actually driving through a ‘drive-thru’ would finally be realised! Until I got into a car, that was. During my first driving lesson I managed to move into third gear (woo!), hit a bird, almost burst my front tyre and then quite literally drive my instructor back to her long-forgotten cigarette addiction (she made me stop at the nearest petrol station to buy a pack of Marlboros and then smoked furiously out the window until the lesson was over). At least the bird survived.
Of course you’ll have bad days when you’re learning and you might get frustrated and cry a little (or a lot) and say cars are stupid and buses are so much better anyway and you don’t mind waiting in the rain because you have that pretty new umbrella you bought and what about your carbon footprint? No way, not a chance will you ever sit behind a steering wheel again.
But even if you fail the test a few times it’s not the end of the world. You just have to keep practicing. Figure out what you need to work on and then practice it non-stop. If you have trouble with hill starts, drive to the steepest hill you can find and do 10. If you hate roundabouts, practice driving on them until you feel dizzy.
All the blood, sweat and tears will be worth the awesome feeling you get when you finally take off your L-plates (then put on your new N-plates), drive out of the test centre and onto the road – you are free at last and nothing can stop you going wherever you want to go.
Well, except maybe traffic lights.
Photos c/o jokeroo.com, bikeyface.com