Saturday, 5 July 2014

(Supervised) Driving Me Insane

Last week, I earned my Provisional License. That means that I can finally drive a car whilst unsupervised. I'm "P1", and in a year, I can get my P2 and not long after Opens (Full License). But it doesn't matter, because P1 is basically open license, it's just that I can't drink alcohol at all while driving and I can't drive at night with people younger than 21 in the car that aren't my relatives. But my friends are all over 21 and I don't like drinking before driving anyway, so I feel like I'm on my open license already.
But, while I was still learning to drive a car, I paid a couple of different people money to supervise, assess and correct my driving, and some of them were alright. But now that I have my P1 license, I think that I have the right and authority to talk about the stupid things they've said to me and judge them terribly for it. That's right, I've finally got my license and the first thing I'm going to do is slag off the people that hindered me along the way.
The Word of the Day is: 'LEARNER'
Learner /lernə/ 1. A person who is learning; student; pupil; beginner; apprentice; trainee: She's a fast learner. 2. A person who is learning to drive, has not yet passed the official driving test, and must be accompanied by a qualified driver and display L-plates on the car; a learner driver.
Some people are fucking idiots, which is understandable, but some of those people are getting paid to be idiots, and that annoys me. Particularly when those people are being paid by me.
So, here are some of the absolute dumbest things that driving instructors and testing officers have said to me:
"No, this has a lot of power, it's a diesel."
I don't know which is better, I'm not going to enter into this debate, because apparently the internet goes geeky when it comes to diesel vs. petrol, comparing compression ratios; calorific value; heat content (btu/lb) & a whole lot of other stuff that I neither understand nor care about. However, when one of my driving instructors showed up with a diesel car that was as big as a van and sounded like a garbage truck, I was driving it around the road and I made what I thought was an uncontroversial comment: "It's heavy. I'm used to a bit more power than this."
My instructor reacted oddly - I think he believed I'd directly insulted his manhood - because he responded by saying with the line above that it had a lot of power, with his evidence being that it was a diesel. This was also an instructor's car, so it had a secondary set of pedals, and he took the opportunity to put his foot down to "show" me the power. The vehicle proceeded to make a brmmm noise, and it accelerated from 20 to 30 kph in about four seconds.
Wow(!) Feel the power(!) Am I in a car, or bareback riding a rabid cheetah, I just don't know . . .
I didn't want to hurt the instructor's feelings, so I didn't reply to this unimpressive display of power. I don't mean to sound arrogant, I get that a diesel has torque, but my car has a lot of torque also, as well as the ability to accelerate faster than a garbage truck. I bought my car secondhand from my mate, Sean, a second-generation mechanic; my car has as much power as an inexperienced driver can legally drive, and a history of love and care from a devoted owner that has not only the compassion but the capacity to keep it up to the top notch. My car is leaps and bounds above a turbo-diesel minivan, don't be stupid.
"You should engage the clutch with the brake on, so that you don't slide backwards."
When I was preparing for my first driving test, I got a real dingus of an instructor. I told him on the phone and in person "I just want to prepare for my driving test, give me a practice run for the test". So, of course, the first thing he teaches me to do is check the mirrors . . .
I don't know why. I know how to check mirrors, I've already told this guy "I have 100 hours, I'm legally ready for my test", yet he's telling me how to do up my seatbelt and check my indicators? I thought maybe he was double-checking my abilities, so I went along with his bullshit.
But then he tells me how to start the car. Not only does he feel the need to teach me to start a car, despite the 100 hours of experience I've had driving, but he teaches me wrong. He said that I should start the engine; put my feet on the brake and the clutch, pedals to the floor; put it in gear; disengage the handbrake; engage the clutch until I could feel it catch on the 'bite' & then release the brake.
I asked him "do you want me to do a hillstart?", I know that I didn't need to do a hillstart, because the street I was on was at a five or ten degree angle, very slight; but that's essentially what he was asking me to do, only using the footbrake instead of the handbrake. But he said "No, this is how you're supposed to start the car". I said to him "I've never done it like that", but he insisted "I teach all of my students to start the car that way, because if you don't, the car will roll backwards, and they might panic" and that's when I knew he was a moron . . .
Now, I will concede one thing, if I start the car on a slight incline, yes, the car will roll backwards . . . about three centimetres. But that doesn't mean you need to wear down your gears engaging the clutch with the brake on every single time you start the car. That's just dumb! If you're on the flat, you won't roll backwards, but if you are at a slight angle (to the point that you might roll backwards) you'll probably need to apply power to the engine (via the accelerator), so that it doesn't stall, but you can't do that if you're foot's on the brake!
Oh, but it doesn't stop there . . . this moron offered three stupid pieces of advice that I've put on this list.
"You can't turn the wheel unless the car is in motion, because you'll pop your tires."
Finally, we start driving, and I'm struggling because the car was slow like a trundling tank, but then he tries to get me to practice parallel parking. So, he gives me some theory, then we begin, so I turn the wheel and he immediately stops me. He says "no, you can't turn the wheel while the car is stationary", then he starts off on this long spiel (which I suspect he was only doing, because I had paid him for the hour, and the longer he talks, the less actual work he has to do). And he said, if you turn the tire while the car is stationary, it grinds down the tires in one spot, and that spot will be weaker, and later when you drive, that weak spot will be more likely to pop.
I was staring at him for a while, not saying anything. I didn't pay this guy to argue with him, but for fuck's sake! I was parallel parking, I don't ever want to parallel park in my life (especially via reversing, even though that can make it easier), I'm not saying I never will, but it will be very rare. On those, what, five occasions when I do, I'm going to turn my car while stationary. For two reasons one, because my car has power steering which means I can; and two, parallel parking isn't easy, and if I have to go through the bullshit "align nose to wheel, turn, back in, turn, adjust to fit" method, it would be twice as hard if I can't sit still while I'm lining up my wheels.
And the best part? I told my mate Sean about this, and he was explaining that turning while stationary wears down your tires, but not as much as turning a corner. Your tires wear down, that's a fact of life. Sure, you shouldn't sit in the driveway turning the steering wheel back and forth for hours on end, which is why I don't do that, but turning the wheel while stopped on the rare occasion that I parallel park? Go fuck yourself.
"You can't back into a driveway during a three-point turn because drivers will get confused and crash into you."
The rules have changed on 'three-point turns', to the point that they don't even call them three-point turns anymore, since you're allowed to angle yourself around more than three points these days. Which is fair enough, but another rule has been changed, they say that on your driving test, if asked to do a three-point turn, you can't back into a driveway to do so (which is something my Dad was allowed to do on his test). But my dumbshit driving instructor, trying to use the Socratic method, asked me: "Do you know why you can't use a driveway?"
So, I answered with the most logical answer that I could think of:
  "Because, although there's a driveway on this road, there might not be a driveway on other roads I'd turn around on."
That makes sense to me. I mean, not every road has houses on it, if you can only three-point turn into a driveway, you're limiting your experience, right?"
  "No," he replied. "It's because if you back into a driveway, if another car is coming the other way, he'll think that you're backing into the driveway. So if you then drive out again, he'll crash into you."
I just stared at him then. I stared at him like he'd grown three heads, like he'd told me to eat a shoe. I stared at him like he'd told me that you can't park in a driveway because you'd crash your car. And that's the thing, if you use a driveway to turn around and a car's coming, what do you do? Do you go "well, I was doing a turn-around manoeuvre, he should know better", drive out and crash into them?
NO! You wait and let them pass! That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!!
"You'll crash into them", what kind of stupid shit does this moron believe? Who does he think he's teaching?! I'm not going to drive into an oncoming car you sack of potatoes dressed like a man! Fucking hell . . . I'm glad I was driving and not him, because first of all, it meant I was too occupied to slap him, and secondly, this dumbass would probably stall the engine and drive me into traffic.
That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard . . . at least, it was, until I heard this last one. Oh boy, it's a doozy . . .
"You can't drive around a corner with the clutch in, because the car will lean more than 30°, and tip over."
A man was paid money to sit in a car and assess driving - hell, he was trained to sit in a car and assess new drivers - and he said that to me. When I took my first driving test, I failed, and that's fair enough. I ran through an amber light, I didn't change gears properly and I didn't follow all of my directions. I'm an average to below-average driver usually, but I was anxious as all hell during that test so I was stupidly bad and I made dumb mistakes that I knew I'd made the moment I made them, one of which was that I clutch-cruised around the corner. Now, clutch-cruising isn't so bad if you're doing it while at low speed like 20 kph, while decelerating, in a straight line; but otherwise, it's very poor practice, and you will get an instant fail on your test if you have the clutch disengaged while in motion for more than 8 seconds (which is harsh, but grudgingly understandable, because that's not driving, that's rolling), so alright, I get that.
But when my testing officer was explaining to me why I wasn't supposed to clutch cruise, I think he must've taken a swig of absinthe, because his understanding of physics was closer to Warner Brothers than reality.
I'm not making that up, he said that if I went around the corner, with the clutch disengaged, the car would tip over. I know he meant that, because I asked him "do you mean the wheels would tip over?", I mean, like, would the rubber get pulled off the wheel rim? which makes slightly more sense.
But he said No. He genuinely believed that, because I had swerved around the corner, with the clutch disengaged, I was at risk of rolling the car.
I told my mate, Sean, since he drove me to and from the test, and he just said the guy was a moron, since that goes against physics.
I also asked my Dad about it when I got home and he got annoyed and explained the real truth of clutch-cruising. The reason you shouldn't clutch-cruise around corners is because if the car goes around the corner without the clutch engaged, it's more likely to oversteer and/or understeer, because you're car is basically swinging its weight around the corner, which can change the angle of your curve as you turn. But with the clutch engaged, the engine provides torque to the rear tires and helps to keep you on the straight and narrow, since you're pushing around the corner, rather than swinging around it. I might be explaining it wrong, but that's the basic physics of it, as I understand.
But that's the most important part, I understand. I don't know why my testing officer was making up bullshit, maybe he was in a position of authority and wanted to maintain that by appearing knowledgeable when he wasn't, but I saw right through it, and it made me lose all respect for him.

When I went for my license the second time, I went to a different driving school, and I will never again use either Coastwide Driving Training or Greenslopes Customer Sevice Centre for the Department of Transport & Main Roads, and I suggest you don't either, their testing/training personnel are ratbags, as far as I'm concerned. And the best part is, I don’t ever have to, since the Hazard Perception Test for getting a P2 license is done online.
But not everyone involved is terrible. The officer who let me pass my test just felt . . . professional. He said I had good speed control and I was a natural at road positioning, even though I sometimes drive too fast and he said I need to be more careful since I cut the corner one time (because I was nervous); but I did everything else right and I passed my test. And of course, there’s my Dad, who sat with me for more than three-quarters of my mandatory 100 hours, and who taught me not just to drive safely and efficiently, but also courteously.

I didn't hate my learning experience, I just think it’s crazy how much work you have to do to drive a car, even though that’s something that the majority of people have to do.

And now that I can drive on my own, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. A few days after I’d earned my provisional license, I wanted to post a letter to my girlfriend. I was running late and the post office was going to close in 30 minutes. But I didn’t panic, I just got in my car and cruised, on my own, through my suburb. Each shift of gears came naturally, I wanted to go faster and I did, and as I drifted down the street to the main road, I wanted to go slowly and I did, just like I’d practiced millions of times before. I parked my car; dropped off the letter at the post office; paid to post it; got back in and drove home, as easy as breathing. I felt so free, and yet connected to everything, since I could go anywhere.

I’m the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, I think I might go for a drive . . .


  1. Definitely go for a drive, and revel in the freedom; you more than earned that government identification that allows you to explore.

  2. Oh, I get why you're frustrated. Some instructors will drive you nuts with their methods of teaching, especially if you’re driving a manual and you’ve got to learn those three-point turn tricks. It’s kind of hard to focus while they are backseat driving. But hey, they’re doing their job the way they deemed right. And by the looks of it, it seems you did just fine. Congrats on earning your license!

    Verna Scott @ Greenville Driving School

  3. I am glad to read such a wonderful article on driving. I liked your post dear! You know I am also getting professional training at a popular Port Macquarie Driving School. In the next week I will try for driving license. I need your encouragement and blessings!!

    1. You don't need blessings, you just need confidence and most of all PATIENCE. Learning how to drive a car is teaching your brain to do four things at once. Don't be disheartened when you make mistakes, that's how you learn not to make mistakes.
      But, I gladly offer encouragement. As I said, when you get that freedom, this huge world of ours feels a little smaller and a little more cozy. It's well worth achieving. And definitely let me know how it goes, I'm sure you'll do better than you expected.

  4. Raj’s Safe Driving School has well respected name and reputation by providing professional driving lesson with excellent customer service, honest, friendliness, patience with high percentage of licence test pass rate.
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