As soon as I got into the car for my first lesson, my nerves disappeared. That is after I hadn’t been able to open the door of the car. I was embarrassed but this was a great ice breaker! My instructor drove for about 5 minutes to a housing estate that was fairly quiet and had loads of interconnecting roads so there were lots of looped routes for us to use.
As soon as we stopped, my instructor, Matt, told me to swap seats with him. I actually said to him “already!!”…I didn’t think I’d be in the driver’s seat from the beginning of my first lesson. As soon as I got into the driver’s seat I was worried as I was looking through the top of the steering wheel. Little did I realise that the seat pumped up, oops!
He began by asking if I knew which pedal is which and if I knew which foot you use for each one. I got a feel for the pedals. The first time I pushed the accelerator the rev count flew up to 80 which is apparently something that a lot of people do. Matt then told me about the safety checks that have to be done before you start driving. Firstly I adjusted my seat so that I could push the clutch completely down without feeling like I was stretching. Then I had to adjust the mirrors, put my seatbelt on and checked all of the car doors were shut as this is the drivers responsibility.
Matt told me about the biting point of the clutch and demonstrated how this works using his dual controls. This is basically when you lift the clutch up slowly and the front of the car bounces up a bit and means that you can release the handbrake and go. Unfortunately I may have released the clutch a bit fast resulting in a bit of a jerk forward of the car. After another try I was away and driving along the road. I actually couldn’t believe that I was driving a car (I admit it wasn’t very well but still). The test came when we reached the first left turn which I actually managed really well for a first time. Matt had told me that he would talk me through stopping for the first time when I actually needed to do it. When I was approaching a T-junction I was instructed to release my accelerator, put my clutch to the floor and gently and slowly brake. The gently and slowly part didn’t really happen as I wasn’t really sure how much pressure was needed on the brake. Once the car was stationary I was told to keep my feet where they were and put the handbrake on.
The loop contained 3 or 4 left turns and 2 T-Junctions which I seemed to be getting used to. One of the left turns was quite tight and for most of the lesson I clipped the back tyre on the pavement however other than that it was okay. That is until I ended up on the pavement on the opposite side of the road and then straight over onto the pavement on the left side. I literally had no idea what I had done to do this but obviously it wasn’t the right thing. At this point I was thinking that I was unteachable and that I would never learn to drive. I managed to get myself back onto the road with Matt’s guidance. I’m so surprised he managed to stay so calm the whole time whilst I thought we were going to crash into a parked car.
At some points I did find myself pushing the wrong pedals. I hope this is something that will come naturally after a while. I sometimes struggled to release the handbrake as I couldn’t push the button in. Matt will have a new car in the next couple of weeks so this shouldn’t be a problem for long.
During this lesson I was told that I should be driving around 1 meter away from the pavement and around the same distance when I am going past parked cars. We also stopped to discuss meeting, and how to act when you meet other cars. The general rule is if the obstruction is on your side then you should wait (this is one of the few things that I previously knew) If you are in any doubt you should wait as this is safest thing to do. We discussed this at the end of my lesson however during my lesson I had been going past parked cars and realised that very few cars were stopping even though the car was on their side. There was one car parked on my side on a corner which was annoying but as we couldn’t see past it, it was quite dangerous. We only met something coming past once however I had to pull up so close to the parked car that it was difficult to get moving again. Matt took the handbrake so that I could just concentrate on steering out of the small space.
If you’re thinking about learning to drive but nerves are the reason you are holding off, definitely go for it. It’s nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be. I really enjoyed my first lesson and as soon as I had finished I wanted to get back into the car and learn some more.