After three months of having a license, breaking a promise to set an appointment, then setting an appointment which is in a mere 31 days, I have done something I haven’t done in nearly eight years.
Drive a car.
A real car, with four tyres on the ground, and me sitting behind the wheel.
There is something to be said about driving a car being like riding a bike – you just never forget how to do it. The strangest thing was that I’d have thought that I’d be quite nervous about taking the seat and starting the engine, then backing out of the driveway, but it wasn’t there. Even my mom wasn’t that nervous about me driving her car, which I find amazing. 🙂
So, the first trip I took was a simple one – a trip to the grocery store. From our driveway, there’s the choice to go left, down a road that’s fairly straight, around to a state highway. Going right leads down the path I take every day when I go for my walk, and that has a lot of curves and hills on it, all right turns, but a trip down a 4-lane road culminating in a left turn into the store.
Anyway, things started out good with the driveway, and heading out onto the road – one thing that I remembered was that driving involves mostly doing nothing with your feet – put the car into gear (this is with an automatic, drivers of manuals, I’d be interested if this is the same case), and it goes slowly one way or the other. The first thing I had to do on the road was head down the road and negotiate some slight curves; that went well, but I was tending to use the wheel a bit much. Next was stopping at a couple of stop signs and doing some left turns. The first turn was onto a road that is as heavily traveled as our road is, and has a 4-way stop at the corner. That went well, though I didn’t turn quite enough for the corner.
Next, it was time to turn onto a state highway from a side road. It’s a bit of a challenging corner to come to – there are some visibility issues such as a curve on one side and a hill on the other, but you can see the other cars. I waited until it was clear and went. Everything on the road was going well until I got to a crossroad where I had seen a car coming up the side road and knew it wasn’t there, but wasn’t planning on it starting to come out into the road while I was still going; I got by him and he pulled out behind me, staying fairly close to my bumper, but at a safe distance (for him at least).
While on the way to the store, I remembered that we had to make a stop along the way, so I got to the place to turn, put the signal on, and turned into the drive. That went quite well, as did coming out of the drive and heading into town. I then snaked my way through a residential area (or the back way to the grocery store), got to a stop sign and spent, in my mom’s opinion, was a bit too long at the stop sign; I wanted to make sure the road was clear before I went. I got to the store, and on the first attempt, got into a parking stall nearly straight, and not over the line. 😀
On the way back, we went a more normal route – i.e. not through the residential area, and down another state highway (2 lanes), right turn onto a connecting road and a left turn onto the first state highway. Everything was going well until I got to the left turn – chances are that a more experienced driver would have gone right away, but I wasn’t secure enough with the conditions, so I waited until a few cars to pass which pleased my mom none too much. In the end we both made it home in one piece. 🙂
Lest you think that I am letting myself get away with just driving once before my test, you’ve got another thing coming 😉
Today, we needed to go get some gas, and stop at a home improvement store to pick up some supplies, and at first I wasn’t going to get the drive, but I did get it, and drove down into a fairly busy shopping area, which included a taste of driving on a 4-lane road, making a left turn at an intersection and, once again, parking in a parking lot. It all went well until the parking lot – I got into the stall alright, but wasn’t perfectly straight – the spot I had chosen originally had an empty stall to the right, so I could have straightened myself out, but someone decided that he had to park right next to me and came maybe within an inch or two of hitting the passenger side of the car. I let my mom fix the parking because of the new situation – though I will not hesitate to add that I did have all 4 wheels within the confines of the stall 🙂
I didn’t drive any more today, but I have to say that I wanted to; as was said to me, I’ve gotten the bug. 😉
And to answer the question Radioactive Jam had in the comments – based on some in-car footage I’ve seen from the Aussie V8 Supercars, the pedal configuration is no different to our cars – clutch on the left, brake in the middle and gas on the right (I think the gear pattern might even be the same, but I’m not 100% on that one). 🙂