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Being a learner driver in your thirties...
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CD



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 665
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:35 am    Post subject: Being a learner driver in your thirties... Reply with quote

As a Lady of Leisure (for a few weeks anyway), I decided to address a significant hole in my education and have been taking daily driving lessons over the last week. And it's been hellish. Never have I forked out so much money for something that I've so actively dreaded...

Last Saturday, I had a complete meltdown and started crying in pure frustration at being so sh*t at everything: gears, clutch, moving off, positioning, steering, indicating, braking - the whole palavar. Fortunately, it was at night so I don't think my instructor noticed - but it was not a pleasant experience. The lessons after that were a lot better in that I didn't feel like I was continually just about to run over a small child every single second I was in the driver's seat. I take what I can get...

Anyway, I was wondering if any of you out there have had bad experiences with learning to drive that you would like to share - particularly learning as an adult? Especially if it involves stalling in heavy traffic and steering wildly on a busy roundabout Wink! Or any hints/tips?
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willaful



Joined: 02 Jan 2008
Posts: 1557

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also learned later in life and it *is* very hard at first, figuring out all the different things you have to coordinate. And I made it easier on myself by learning on an automatic. So don't beat yourself up, it will come. (Probably). If it's any comfort, my grandfather's wife learned to drive when she was in her 70s!
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got my drivers license late..well, late for most people. I was 25. Reason being, I was in a car accident with my best friend (she was driving) at 16. I just didn't have an interest, but then it became necessary when I had my first child at 24. Today, I'm a very careful driver. Never tailgate, try not to speed, but I don't especially enjoy it. I do it because I have to, but I don't think I'll ever like it. Also, I am a terrible passenger. I try not to be, but mostly can't help it. I love my iphone during those times, and usually just keep my head down and fool with that so as to not upset the driver. Smile
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JulieR



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 191

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I bought my first car, I deliberately chose a manual transmission since it cost less up front and and used less gas. Once it arrived, I informed the salesperson that he would need to teach me to drive with a clutch in order for me to actually drive it off the lot. That poor guy... he probably spent an hour with me before I drove it home, stalling several times. Fortunately, much of the trip was on the freeway, where it drove just like an automatic!

I don't envy you learning to drive in London. I had a little experience driving on the left in rural Derbyshire, so when my husband and I were in London a few years later I confidently rented a car and we took off. Let me just say, when there's a lot of traffic instinct takes over! And if your instinct was built on years of driving on the right, well, let's just say many pedestrians scattered when I drove on the sidewalk! But no one was harmed, and my husband decided that he'd better drive which left me free to enjoy the sights, so all turned out well!

Just keep practicing: like anything else, driving get easier the more you do it. Your confidence will build and with practice eventually you'll be a pro!
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LeeB.



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1285
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I took driver's ed one summer in high school and golly gosh, I was always soooooo happy to see the stoplight turning yellow (because in Chicago you actually stopped at them and didn't race through). But I so preferred sitting in the back seat watching the world go by. Thus when I was "encouraged" to take a driver's license test, I failed. No surprise. Still don't drive and manage to get around just fine. And I save tons on gas, parking, car insurance, etc. Wink
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Nicole



Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 469
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always find it a little surprising when people I know don't drive. I live in the middle of the desert in towns that are spread out over large areas geographically, but are separated from each other by a lot of distance. I don't know what I'd do with out a car, places are way to far to walk and public transportation is pretty non existent.

Just keep working at it CD. I didn't have to learn to drive in a city, so I guess that helped. Is there anyway you could go to a less crowded smaller town to learn the basics? That's what helped me, large parking lots and dirt roads.
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Beth W



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 168

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can somewhat relate. Not to driving a car - I learned that in my teens - but right now at age 40 I'm learning how to ride a motorcycle. Just when I think I'm getting the hang of the whole thing, I goof up again.

It doesn't help that I never drove a manual transmission car, so the whole shifting thing is new to me. And of course there are so many other differences between riding a bike and driving a car.

I keep making two steps forward and one step back - I think I am getting a little better every time I go out, but just when I've gotten a handle on something I need to work on (say, letting the clutch out too fast), I goof up on something I thought I had all figured out (like starting from a stop without stalling it).

All I can say is hang in there and keep practicing. I know you will get the hang of it!
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Kristie(J)



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 1138
Location: Southwestern Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK - this is a bit of a long story - but hilarious......now. I used to get my husbands hand me down cars - he would get the newer one. Then he went and changed to standards and I had never driven a standard before. It was time for the hand me down and he took me out to show me how to drive it. About 10 minutes in, it became VERY clear that in order to save our marriage, it was best he not be the one to show me. I figured I would pick most of it up myself with a few pointers from my sister who drives nothing but. I was doing pretty good actually and kind of liked the feel of driving stick.

Fast forward several months. I was driving up the steepest hill in the city when the car started to lose power and start chugging. I was in the middle of the hill and the car stalled out completely. I froze in complete panic at the thought of trying to get it going again on the steepest part of the steepest hill in the city. So I sat there in my car - not moving. Unfortunately the cars starting to gather behind me just didn't seem to like a car stopped in the middle of the steepest part of the steepest hill in the city and started honking. Of course whatever movement I was attempting to make stopped cold. Finally the guy in the big huge truck behind me, got out of his truck and most patiently really considering, knocked on my window. I somehow managed to role it down and he asked if I was having trouble. I very shakily said my car had stalled out and I didn't know what to do. He asked me what gear I was in and those who drive standards out there will be rolling their eyes when I said fourth. He very nicely told me that when I go up a hill, I have to gear down. I did not know that. My husband and I didn't get that far in our lesson and somehow my sister and I never drove up a hill and it didn't occur to think I didn't know how to do it.

I don't know how many years ago now that happened, but it's a nightmare that has never gone away. I did manage to get the car started and up the rest of the hill - in first - and pulled off the nearest street when I reached to stop, pulled over to the side and burst into tears.

So CD, I really and truly sympathize. Since you are learning about gears and clutches, it sounds like you are learning on a standard and it's not easy. So stay strong, keep with it. I eventually learned to love standards though I had to learn to plan my route wherever I went in order to avoid hills. When I finally went back to driving an automatic, it was like my world opened and I was able to visit parts of the city I hadn't driven in in 5 or 6 years. I still do avoid that hill as much as I can though.
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CD



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 665
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks ladies - that's really encouraging. Like BethW, it is very much two steps forward, one step back, and occasionally the other way round! What's really frustrating for me is that it's been a long time since I've felt this incompetent at something that 99% of people, including smug teenagers, seem to be able to do perfectly well. Well, I suppose my ego could do with taking down a few notches...

JulieR/Nicole: Yep, learning to drive in central London would have been a nightmare. What I did was stay in my friend's empty flat in Oxford for a week and took lessons from there. It's not only the traffic, which I found difficult to cope with even in Oxford, but also the fact that drivers there a lot nicer in terms of cutting learner drivers some slack (albeit with gritted teeth I imagine). The idea is to take lessons from London now that I should have the basics but that's looking more and more unpalatable seeing how drivers behave here...

JulieR/BethW/KristieJ: To be honest, my main bete noire is the whole gear changing thing - especially the whole stopping and starting in heavy traffic and the constant shifing of gear to accomodate. I haven't encoutered any steep hills so far (not very prevalent in the suburbs of east Oxford) so that nightmare is yet to come Sad . However, while starting again on a slight incline, I once eased off of the brakes while still pressing down on the clutch - with the predicatable result that I started sliding backwards right into the car behind me. So I can't imagine how difficult it would be starting on anything steeper... Stalling my car TWICE in busy rush hour traffic was traumatic enough, let enough what KristieJ went through - I can only imagine how traumatic that was and I certainly would have had a similar meltdown.

What's interesting is that in the UK, you are actually not legally allowed to drive a manual if you only have an automatic license, whereas that doesn't seem to be the case in the US, unless you ladies are all criminals Wink. Automatics are actually not all that common in the UK which is why I went for the manual route. But an automatic does seem hugely less difficult.

Anyway, 14 hours of driving lessons done. Apparently, another 30 hours to go before I would be let loose on the unsuspecting public...
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CD



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 665
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JulieR wrote:
I had a little experience driving on the left in rural Derbyshire, so when my husband and I were in London a few years later I confidently rented a car and we took off. Let me just say, when there's a lot of traffic instinct takes over! And if your instinct was built on years of driving on the right, well, let's just say many pedestrians scattered when I drove on the sidewalk! But no one was harmed, and my husband decided that he'd better drive which left me free to enjoy the sights, so all turned out well!


That's a fun story! And it obviously ended well for you at any rate. And besides, I'm sure those pedestrians had it coming - nothing wrong with a bit of an adrenaline boost Wink.


Kristie(J) wrote:
I used to get my husbands hand me down cars - he would get the newer one. Then he went and changed to standards and I had never driven a standard before. It was time for the hand me down and he took me out to show me how to drive it. About 10 minutes in, it became VERY clear that in order to save our marriage, it was best he not be the one to show me.


LOL! I can definitely understand that. For some reason, driving seems to bring out the worse in everyone. There were times when I just felt everything that came out of my instructor's mouth was huge personal attack on my intelligence, my moral values, and my ultimate worth as a human being Wink . And he's someone who has no personal relationship with me and who's trained to deal with emotional nervous learner drivers. My best female friend almost broke up with her boyfriend after he agreed to take her out for driving practice before her test.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1670

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you see the movie "Happy Go Lucky"? It's a British film, and a big part of the movie is about the heroine taking driving lessons from a seriously bat-sh_t instructor. No matter what your instructor is like, he can't be quite as bad (although I did think he was right about her not wearing such high heels while she was learning).
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Beth W



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 168

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CD, I know exactly what you mean about feeling incompetent. I see some of the absolute idiots that ride motorcycles with ease and wonder why I have such a problem. Then I remind myself its only been a few weeks, but it's frustrating.
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bijoux



Joined: 30 Jan 2009
Posts: 398

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CD wrote:

JulieR/BethW/KristieJ: To be honest, my main bete noire is the whole gear changing thing - especially the whole stopping and starting in heavy traffic and the constant shifing of gear to accomodate. I haven't encoutered any steep hills so far (not very prevalent in the suburbs of east Oxford) so that nightmare is yet to come Sad . However, while starting again on a slight incline, I once eased off of the brakes while still pressing down on the clutch - with the predicatable result that I started sliding backwards right into the car behind me. So I can't imagine how difficult it would be starting on anything steeper... Stalling my car TWICE in busy rush hour traffic was traumatic enough, let enough what KristieJ went through - I can only imagine how traumatic that was and I certainly would have had a similar meltdown.

Hey, I only got my driver's license this fall and I'm turning 29 next week. I wasn't a natural. You stalled twice? Noob. I stalled at least 20 times. Smile Seriously, easing up the clutch was the trickiest thing for me. I also learned to drive manual, because it's much more common. My Dad however drives an automatic and quite frankly the thought of driving that freaks me out. What do you do without a clutch? Shocked Seriously, I feel that little pedal does 50% of the work and what would I do without it?

It's definitely stressful, I think even more so now than had we done it as teenagers when you just worry about things less. Then it's more, "Stupid old bats. Why did you just jump in front of me causing me to break at the last minute?!" Now it's, "Oh my God, lady. You lived to be a 102, l don't want to be the one to put an end to that. Take care."

All that said, I got my drivers license (on the second go, to be honest, I still believe the bastard screwed me over the first time) and it's been going fine. I quite like it, actually, even though I didn't get the chance to drive any longer routes yet.
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Nicole



Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 469
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I learned to drive a manual transmission on this dilapidated old farm truck. I had to use it while I was working for the Agronomy/Horticulture department during college. One of my coworkers a tough lady in her late 60's who had been working in the college for years taught me. She made me do figure eights in reverse, and stop and start on the steepest hill in town. It was nerve wracking, also the truck only had 3 gears. I stalled it out several times, but usually I was out on one of the farm sites so it wasn't that big of a deal. I did get it stuck one time in about a foot of mud during a sudden rain storm. I was freaked out thinking I'd be fired because I killed the work truck, but my boss just called one of the farm hands to come get me out with a tractor. I think just about everyone has interesting/embarrassing stories about driving.
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Jane A



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 771
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I learned to drive in an automatic and then a few years later switched to a clutch. My brother very generously taught me and I still remember how patient he was with me. Quite shocked me, actually. Very Happy I am sure it was much easier learning with the automatic first, rather than having to absorb everything all at the same time.

Now I love to drive, and will tackle most anything. I'm beat out in the adventure department, though, by my girlfriend, who pulled a loaded three horse slant trailer with her dually pickup through New York City and told me how fun it was. Wow.
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