Being driven up the wall…

…or at the very least around the bend.

After a five week break (thanks to parental visits, festivals and a blown gasket), I got back behind the wheel this evening hoping that I hadn’t entirely forgotten how to manoeuvre a vehicle. My skills weren’t totally absent, but it was clear that an awful lot more work needed to be done before a practical test could be contemplated. (Hopes of sitting it before 2011 dawns are starting to fade.)

While I may have mastered stopping a couple of lessons ago [sounds basic doesn’t it!] an inability to successfully multi-task appears to be holding me back in my progress.

How can this be? I’m a woman, we’re meant to be genius multi-taskers!
Surely I ought to be able to slow down, change gear and work out if it’s safe to make turn simultaneously?
Or remember to take my foot off the gas when changing gear?
Or change gear while also changing direction?
Or work out what the speed limit ought to be?
Or ascertain what the bus driver might do while avoiding oncoming traffic?

It’s rather depressing. I’m used to picking up new skills quickly, not having to slog away at something to get where I need to be, but this driving lark is hands down the hardest (practical) thing I’ve had to do in years. My latest plan is to investigate taking an intensive course later in the year where for a week I can blitz my skills and perhaps finally be ready for what can only be referred to as THE TEST.

Tips, ideas, moral support and prayer (for me, my instructor and the residents of south-east London) would be much appreciated.

Comments

  1. A friend of mine’s husband was a driving instructor. He said the the more academic a person, the harder they find it to learn to drive.

    My father refused to go in the car with me until I could ‘go around corners.’ What on earth did he mean? I could do that…

    I found learning to drive a huge challenges. My driving instructor made me go around a block about 7 times because I couldn’t coordinate looking in the mirror, signalling, moving steering wheel, changing gears, braking and all those necessary actions.

    I drive quite happily. I don’t drive with much style or flair… but I get from a to b.

  2. Oh hon! There’s multitasking, and then there’s cramming too much in at one time.

    You’re doing great, putting this all together at once takes a while. Took me a LONG time to get the whole “downshift as you go around corners” – and really? depending on the corner and the speed you lose? You may not have to downshift at all. Many times I just hang out in 3rd gear and don’t downshift at all when tootling around my own neighborhood – I’m a bit sluggish getting going again, but if there’s no traffic, who cares? 🙂

    It helps some of the beginning drivers I’ve taught, if they sit and practice the gas/clutch/stickshift movements at home, with stuffed animals as the pedals. Your feet and arms and legs have to learn the physical movements, too, not just your brain learning. Once your body is physically comfortable with the movements, you won’t have to “think” about it in the foreground – your brain will simply fire off the correct commands, and you can use the foreground thinking on things like the speed limit and the bus driver.

    It will all come! It will! It’s just practice. Muscle memory, brain memory – you’re burning new neural pathways, hon! It can take quite a few tries for everything to connect! I’ve known race car drivers who struggled for years with street driving. It’s utter chaos out there, and your brain just needs more practice at sifting everything out and making those new brain connections.

    I feel like I should say “YOU GO GIRL!” 🙂

  3. I’ve already thanked Jenny via twitter, but to whoever ‘anonymous’ is, thank you!

    Your reassurances brought a massive smile to my face this morning and I may well be digging out a few toys or cushions with which to practise pedals with later.

    x

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