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  • So, 28 years after my first 6 driving lessons, I have my seventh booked for this Sunday. I don’t know why I didn’t ever get around to it again, but in a nutshell my twenties were spent on the piss and my thirties were spent on the Korean subway. Anyway, I’m anticipating the rest of my forties being spent taxiing my offspring here and there, so I’m determined to sort it out. I have new glasses, a good instructor (she’s a neighbour whose daughter is best friend’s with mine, and she is very experienced - mostly, I trust her to be honest with me) and I’m ready to go! Any advice? I basically know nothing.

  • Good luck, Nick! I have no advice (how could I - I haven’t had a single driving lesson), but S. is in the process of learning now: he had his first five or six lessons over the past month or two, and in fact just passed his theory exam today! The practical part doesn’t seem to be coming very easily for him - in fact, his instructor was so unimpressed by his efforts of using a stick that he talked him into learning to drive an automatic (which I guess is slowly becoming more widespread in Europe). But then again, it seems that the customers they are used to are 17-year olds who practice privately with their parents between lessons, rather than 36-year olds who have never had an opportunity to practice outside of lessons. But despite the fact that it’s going a bit slowly, he does actually seem to be enjoying the process!

  • Despite what your instructor may tell you, driving on the right side of the road is the correct way.

    Just kidding, I wish you good luck. I had driving lessons when I was in high school, and I think the two things I needed help on was on turning, moving one hand over the other instead of doing it with both hands on the wheel - and just the basic sense of focusing on what’s up ahead of you, and keeping a reasonable distance behind the car in front of you. That, and if you want to pass someone you need to speed up while you’re doing it. Some things are probably already second nature to you. The other finer points you almost learn subconsciously Driving in Britain is probably a little more polite than the Mad max style driving we have at times in America.

    I need to get my license back because it is one of the things revoked when my parents did all the legal shenanigans to become my guardians when I was in the hospital, and I’m a little leery of the whole process it might take to get it back, and get used to driving again. But aside from tentativeness and jerkiness you may have at the beginning trying to brake and accelerate you settle into it pretty easily.

    (yeah and I only learned on an automatic, not stick, which probably made it a lot easier)

  • I haven’t driven much in the past 3 years and I can’t say I miss it much. It is probably useful in hauling large objects/children/etc, though. My advice is to keep an even keel, slow it down and take it easy. Beware of assholes (95% of all drivers).

    Left side or right side doesn’t bother me, but I hate the big roads here that have a “slow” left turn lane, median (with narrow little passages to merge), express lanes in the middle, median, and then another left turn lane (going the other direction), like this evil fucker outside my door: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Kilda_Road,_Melbourne

    In Britain, I would proceed directly here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Roundabout_(Swindon)

  • Thanks everyone! Excellent words there. I am learning in a manual, as I prioritised the instructor I wanted/knew/trusted over finding someone I didn’t know with an automatic. I also quite like the idea of learning that skill, but that’s probably a bit silly and macho.

    My dad definitely brought me up in the ‘95% of drivers are arseholes’ school-of-thought, but it’s probably a balnce between being aware of that and not losing confidence. I do probably tend towards being ultra-cautious in life anyway.

    I’ll try to update this thread with tedious posts about stalling at lights and knocking over bollards as we go along.

  • Good luck, Nick! Be patient, and look where you’re going. Stalling at lights can be scary, but you’ll get over it quickly.

  • yay you! You’ll be fine I’m sure :-) but it’ll be a very different experience from when you were first learning. Cars’ve changed a fair bit in 30 years, especially if you were learning in a bomb back then.

  • So had my first go this morning and I think I did ok. I live on a fairly quiet little spit of land called Shoreham Beach, with mainly straight roads, so it was an ideal place to start really.


    Anyway, I managed to do most things reasonably well and in the right order, but I suppose it will take a while to get used to even the basics. Looking forward to the next one.

  • Yeah! You tell ‘em Nick. :-)

  • Been thinking about driving all day. Can’t wait to do it again.

  • Yay Nick, that’s awesome! And well done. I had my first lesson from an instructor yesterday (I’m not counting the one I paid for 6 years ago from a horrible woman who completely broke my confidence) and it was great - with guidance, I was able to drive in ways that I had previously found terrifying (with other traffic! right through town! on notoriously forbidding Wellington roads!). I’m not very good, but my instructor says if I commit to this I could have my restricted license by Christmas.

  • Ah, cool! I think a trusted instructor is the key. What’s a ‘restricted license’?

  • There’s various stages to getiing your license here. You get your learner’s, which I have, which is basically just a quiz on the road code, and then you get your restricted, which means you can drive, but you can only drive at night if there is someone in the car who has their full license with you, and you can’t take passengers who are not your spouse, parents or dependents. Then, once you have your restricted, if you are over 25 you can sit your full license after 6 months (or 3 months if you do a defensive driving course).

  • Wow, that’s complicated. We get a provisional licence by being 17 or over and having working eyes, then take a theory and a practical test for a full licence, and that’s about it. Unles you want to drive 16-wheelers or dragsters, or something.

  • We do much more like NZ - at 16+9mths you can get your Ls by sitting a theory test and you can then drive as long as you’re accompanied by a fully licensed driver. After you’re 17 and you’ve done h hours of this, you can then sit your practical test. Once you pass this you get your Ps (provisional) license, which have some weird restrictions state to state I think, and they last for 3 years, unless you’re over y in age, in which case it’s shorter. It’s more complicated, but there’s a hope that it leads to fewer road deaths.

  • Interesting. I was just looking at wikipedia’s figures for road deaths per 100,000 vehicles. Australia (7) and UK (6.2) are similar, with NZ slightly higher (10.3). Bangladesh is over 1,000! And some African countries are around 10,000. I wonder how you get a licence in Central African Republic (13,472)?

  • I didn’t know manuals were becoming more popular in Europe! Back from three weeks in the US and again struck by how much easier and virtually stress-free it is to drive there compared with Europe; if I remember well I looked at the same statistics as Nick and they showed that the accident rate was much higher in the US than in most European countries - can’t really figure out how. Good luck to all the future drivers - my instructors were all huge assholes but I was lucky enough to get the whole ordeal over with when I was 18.

  • Man I miss my car-less life. I drive somewhere on the order of 250-500 miles a week now and it fucking sucks. There is nothing worse than driving around the suburbs.

  • Had my second hour and a half this morning and it went really well. I was still driving around this Shoreham Beach area, but changing gear more confidently and starting to do a lot more turning. Feeling more in control of the car and better at parking. My teacher is away on holiday for 10 days now, but then I have two more lessons the week after next, so we’ll see how it all goes. Really enjoying it though.

  • 38 years old and I’ve never learnt to drive so I enjoy hearing about people in the same position. Maybe you’ll motivate me to learn how to do what seems to be a basic skill for most people.

  • Killdozersnakeboy said: 38 years old

    a mere whippersnapper!

  • In many developing world places, all you need is cash to get a license. It’s not too much different here for Americans—if you have a valid US license you can just request an Australian license, pay some $$ and you are a certified left-hand-side of-the-road driver (provided you are also a resident).

    My sense is that driving fatalities in the US are higher than in Europe because of the popularity of drunk driving, higher threshold of intoxication, and lesser penalties for drunk driving.

  • And higher legal drinking age! It’s a stupid idea.

  • Had my fourth lesson today and starting to feel more confident. As a teacher myself, I appreciate how my instructor is allowing me to recall what I’ve learned more and make some of the decisions more independently. I’m still really enjoying the actual driving, but it’s getting harder to fit lessons in around work now.

  • Awesome! I hope it continues to go exponentially better.

  • Thanks Clare :-)

  • I had a brilliant lesson today, driving all over a different area and doing lots of things quite well. It’s still early days, but it was great to be let loose on some new roads. I think I’m doing ok with the car control. Now. I have to learn more about road sense and decision making.

  • I’ve had about 15 or 16 hours now, I suppose. I should probably stop counting that. Otherwise, there’s a danger I’ll be updating this thread in December and needing a scientific calculator. Today, my instructor said the sentence about everyone learning at different rates. I think we all know what that means, thanks you very much.

    Anyway, I don’t care. She’s a good teacher and I’m enjoying it and getting on alright. I had a bit of an epiphany about a couple of things, just little technical things, today, so that was good, especially after a crappy lesson yesterday when after 3 days of flu I made every mistake it was possible to make short of ploughing through the Tesco storefront. I’m glad I’m learning in a manual but I still have a way to go before my limbs do things unbidden, which I understand is the ultimate aim.

    Part of me is just enjoying learning something new. It’s been quite a long time since I did that, and when this is finished I might have to think about putting (non-work) learning somewhere in my day-to-day life again in a way that doesn’t cost ludicrous sums of money.

    I’m going to carry on with 2 lessons a week for a couple of months and see how I get on. I wish I could do more, but it’s tricky to fit it all in around job/offspring/spouse/football etc…

    Oh yes, I did a cool turn-in-the-road today. Tidy. Back of the net.

  • It’s hard to keep it consistent, right? I had a deadline for work and it meant lessons went on the backburner, and then when I did go out I was making mistakes like crazy. BUT, first lesson post-deadline, I drove great and my instructor said it was good enough for the test, so if I can keep at that consistent level I should be able to sit it before too long. One dumb mistake that I keep making is taking both hands off the wheel when I’m at a traffic light (I feel like it’s a reflex from computer use, where I’ve trained myself to stretch my wrists if I’m not actively operating the thing?), and that’s just like an instant fail. But soon, hopefully!

  • Have you tried cellotape?

    A good lesson today. I went to a much more difficult part of town (Hove) and did quite a lot of crossroads. Stalled a few times (sigh), but otherwise 80% good vs 20% brain-not-catching-up-with-the-road situations.

  • That’s sounding pretty good both Grace and Nick. It does eventually just become ‘a thing you do’…