It’s amazing how time flies when you’re busy being a pedestrian.
I thought I’d been carless for two years, it was only when I was sorting out my insurance that I realised it’s actually been three. Within that three-year absence from the road I have probably driven, erm, twice and a total distance of, ohh, about three miles. So to say I was feeling a little rusty was an understatement.
As fate has been being kind to me recently I had an email fling itself into my inbox at an apt moment telling me about the AA’s Drive Confident course. Two hours of driving tuition for nervous drivers, or those who haven’t been on the road for a while. So long as you pass the qualifying questions the course is free (funded by the Automobile Association Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment don’t cha know).
I’d been driving for a week before my first lesson and whilst it was starting to come back to me, and I’d only stalled once, I found myself over thinking things which had once seemed so automatic. What gear should I be in? Is it signal, mirror, manoeuvre? How fast should I approach that island?
I was slightly worried that the AA instructor would tell me off for the bad habits I’d learned since passing my test and visions of spending most of lesson one having feed the wheel, ten-to-two and do you want a speeding ticket? yelled at me. I’m pleased to say that wasn’t the case.
My instructor, Roy, turned up on time in his AA branded Ford Focus and listened to my driving history whilst he drove me to a quieter part of town. I then took to the driver’s seat and showed him what I was made of and I actually really enjoyed it. It’s amazing how much more comforting it is having a properly trained instructor next to you when you’re getting back into it. If I wasn’t sure of anything, there was someone I could ask, who would give me a proper answer, rather than basing it on their own driving style. The car was a dream to drive, although I couldn’t help but feel that learners have it too easy today. A display that tells you when to change-up gear? I remember learning in a Rover Metro and having to listen to the engine whine to know when to change-up.
After about half-an-hour of driving we pulled over. No major problems with my driving. I need to check my mirrors more, but apparently all drivers are rubbish at that. I also need to slow down a bit when I’m approaching islands (I was paranoid about people thinking I was a slow coach so knowing it’s acceptable for me to slow down a bit more is good news) and I’m being a bit naughty and coasting sometimes, a bad habit I’ve picked from… I don’t know where.
Roy didn’t tell me off for some of the ‘bad habits’ I’d picked up, and if he did need to prompt me he did it in a friendly manner. By the end of the hour I felt like my joy for driving was returning and I’ve certainly felt more confident and in control when I’ve been driving this week.
I have another lesson booked in for next week where we’re going to work on parking. I reckon that after that, and three weeks of driving experience there’ll be no stopping me! Watch out world!