Help! I can't drive!

Learning to drive, driving, and using public transport

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Help! I can't drive!

Post by Alislovesools » Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:05 pm


This is my first post so I'm not sure how this all works but I'll go straight in!

I'm 20 years old and have been learning to drive in a manual car for over two years. I know most dyspraxic people learn in an automatic but I am far too stubborn to change! My driving instructor is really good, very patient with me. But I am getting frustrated now. I seem to be taking 1 step forward and about 10 back! I struggle with concentration a lot and I get tired very very quickly (not sure if other people feel this as well? I used to get very tired at school when I'd have to concentrate for long periods of time) And spacial awareness is obviously a problem so I go too close to parked cars sometimes because I'm trying to avoid the cars coming towards me. I am on the brink of giving up because it's getting so frustrating! I feel like I'm a complete idiot because I just can't seem to do it. I can drive fine if I'm in my local area but once I go out it goes down hill quickly!

So I'm wondering if anyone has any tips? My driving instructor asked me if he can do anything to help and I don't know. I've never really had a lot of help with my dyspraxia so I don't know how to deal with it really.

Any advice would be appreciated :)

Thank you!

Tom fod
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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by Tom fod » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:40 am

I can't add much as my visual impairment is such I cannot read a number plate at 25 yds. It's good that your instructor seems to want to try and help.

Is he aware of your dyspraxia? I appreciate that you may prefer not to mention it. I hope your persistence pays off though maybe a break might help?

With a foot full of bullets I tried to run faster but I just hobbled on to the next disaster.
(from Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Foot Full of Bullets)

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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by Alislovesools » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:22 pm

Tom fod wrote:I can't add much as my visual impairment is such I cannot read a number plate at 25 yds. It's good that your instructor seems to want to try and help.

Is he aware of your dyspraxia? I appreciate that you may prefer not to mention it. I hope your persistence pays off though maybe a break might help?
Hi Tom,

I'm sorry to hear that, it must make things a lot more difficult. He is very good. Yes he is. I told him the other day, I want to try and find something that kind of explains how to teach someone to drive with dyspraxia, although I don't think that exists! haha.

I had a bit of a break of a couple of months and it did seem to help a bit so I might change them to every two weeks. It seems to be very hit and miss as to weather or not I have a good lesson!

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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by Greenartists » Sat Mar 22, 2014 3:05 pm

Have you had your eyesight checked for using your eyes at the same time?

It was years before I got an optician to pick this up, but if you are not short sited, it is possible that it is not picked up at all. It will not always be picked up in a standard test. There are glasses that can help with this apparently.

Two years is a very long time to go on practicing. I did not pass my test till I was 37 but could not afford to keep on with driving lessons so I did it in phases.

Even if you have a very good driving instructor, it may be worth trying another one. You do not have to tell your present instructor. I think to an extent either you or your instructor can get a little bit too comfortable with your foibles, and either not try hard enough, or not try to resolve stuff. Also I think that if you are used to them, you may have got into a bit of a rut, of getting used to having bad days.

Having variable concentration is normal, what is important is being able to drive well enough to pass your test and being safe on the road. Remember your test is actually shorter than your driving lesson.

I am astonished as someone who has a clean licence but does not drive for other reasons, how many drivers are completely oblivious to pedestrian crossings.

If you find you are driving to close, to parked cars, can you find something in the car, that is some kind of marker. Ask your instructor to help you find a safe distance, than work out a feature on the car windscreen, or mirrors etc, that works like a guide line.

The other thing I found took me a long time, was learning to guage the speed of vehicles coming towards me, which was difficult especially when turning right. It can come with practice. I avoid traffic now as a pedestrian, but it is something to an extent you can practice observing when you are a passenger in a car or bus, or even walking. Even just standing still on a busy street, watch the speed of the car, and notice how long it takes to pass. It may sound very boring, but with most things it is practice that helps confidence. Only driving once a week, may be all you can afford, but it is not that often.

It may be an idea, to take a break for a few weeks and save up for an intensive group of lessons, perhaps every other day. We become more confident with familiarity. I never thought I would learn to touchtype, but I learned with 5 minutes every day building up. That is not practical with driving lessons.

Another option is to book a double lesson. This give you time to relax and not worry about wasting the lesson, and give you time to chill out, in putting the troubles of your week or day behind you. It means that you can ask your driver to take you to drive somewhere less challenging, (whether that be a country road or a dual carriageway, what ever you find easiest) and drive for longer.

I think we can all find we get frustrated if we over think things, as well as when we are not focussed enough.

Do you want to learn to drive because you really need to, or because it is expected of you? Do you enjoy the process or is it a habit, having the lessons?

If you live in a city, would your money be better spent on other forms of transport. It is often actually cheaper to get the occasional taxi, than run a car, and better for the environment too.

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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by jack200 » Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:22 pm

Alis. I am 42 and have been driving since I was 17, It took me 1 Full year to pass my test and two attempts
in an Automatic after 2 2hr lessons a week, ( The first few Lessons I could not even turn the steering wheel) The instructor came back and informed my Mum that there was no Chance I would ever pass a Driving test. I Did after a very difficult year of driving. I could only drive Automatic cars, then after about 8 years Driving I decided to take lessons Driving Manual Cars and after a few lessons passed ( Giving me one of my best experiences , when Asked to park a Manual car , My Brother Said "you Can't Drive a Manual Car" Oh yes I can and watched his shocked face.

Alis Learn to drive an Automatic, get experience and confidence driving and when you have mastered driving ,learn to drive Manual Cars. Good Luck..

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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by Kitty » Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:59 pm

Hi Alis, I'm in my late 30s and still struggling with passing my driving test. I started learning again 2yrs ago in an auto. I know exactly what u mean about being too close to parked cars although I don't do it as often now. I have failed one test so far - see my post. There's times when I reverse around a corner perfectly well and other times I struggle. I still dislike roundabouts espec when they're busy. I will say over 2 years I have come on along way and I really want to pass. There's times when I thought I just don't know if I will ever pass but when I've had a good lesson I think more positive. I think we just have to keep trying. Instructors are never gona know how hard it is for us even when you try explaining to them. I also get tired very easily and there's times when I don't concentrate as well. I also get put off when I've been told off for a mistake and end up making more mistakes.

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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by Shadwell » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:13 am


The biggest thing you, and your driving instructor need to remember is relaxation, get used to the car, how quickly you can stop the car, how smoothly to pull away, get to know the car, and feel comfortable driving the car, it needs to be your super special best friend that you never fight with, or your left/right arm.

so not going out during busy times will help, don't drive like you need to be somewhere yesterday is another tip, so drive like it is a Sunday drive, so nice and relaxing, and smoothly,

as for the driving instructor taking you somewhere where you don't know, then slower is better, until you know the area better. then you can practice on gaining speed.

if you see a car parked slow down sooner, so like 3-4 lamp posts away, then it will give you time to see what traffic is doing, slightly more than how far you are from the parked vehicle. remember distance + lack of speed = safety.

as for the gearing, etc. then the slower you go, the less problems you have, watch the revometer, or listen to what the engine is telling you, changing down through the gearbox helped myself, as then I only stalled once or twice of learning to drive.

I had loads of experience with changing gears, but found that the best way is then I knew my gear the whole time, whereas if I rushed it like say traffic lights changing to green then I would be in the wrong gear.

hope there are some helpful tips here for you.

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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by nickye » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:54 am

Hi Alis

I can so relate to your post and to what others have said. I'm now 45 and on,y just found out last year that I have dyspraxia. If only I'd known 24 years Pago when I was learning to drive, instead I couldn't understand why I had all these what seemed like stupid problems. But the good news is that I did pass on the third test after three years learning but think if I've understood about dyspraxia it might have taken less time! :)

I still struggle with certain things like joining slip roads. It's a bit scary but it is on,y practice that makes things better. I find I need to be told things in great detail and don't just pick them up like most people seem to. I said to my husband only the other week that sometimes when I look over my shoulder I can't work out which lane a car is in and he just said look where the white line of the road is in relation to the car. This seemed so obvious and since en I've had no problem.

This may sound like I'm a bit dangerous and there have been times I've thought of giving up but I find since knowing how my brain works I get on a lot better. Before I would just go locally and if in doubt wouldn't change lanes. In, I've burned a lot of petrol over the yeRs going I the wrong direction and avoiding motorways!

But I am really glad I kept on especially as last year in France my husband had a seizure and wasn't allowed to drive home so I had to drive back. This was a big challenge get for me, having to drive on the "wrong" side of the road but I managed it with him helping me with directions. I feel really sorry for him because he loves car and works in the motto industry and can't drive til at lest November and there's me having to do all the driving now! I think it is doing me good in a funny way!
It's also interesting someone said about the eyes not working together but I have a lazy muscle in my right eye and my eyes don't work together. You can do exercises where you hold a pen in front of you and being it nearer and try to get it I to one image again once you start to see double. I used to go to an eye clinic every yeAr for this. It's not too. Ich of a problem unless I'm tired. I do relate to getting very tired as well.

The main thing is to try not to beat yourself up and think of ways to help yourself. I think there may be specialist driving instructors for people with dyspraxia but don't know details.

Sorry this is long but I hope it may help someone else.

Good luck!


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Re: Help! I can't drive!

Post by lozcore99 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:31 am

I believe I had between 50 and 56 hours of lessons with a driving instructor before passing my test at the third time of asking in July 2010, 10 days before my 18th birthday. I started in September 2009, just over a month after turning 17, so I passed in 10 months which is actually not bad on reflection. At the time though I was getting very frustrated and those were a very long 10 months...

I was terrified at first and, since I had never shown any real interest in or passion for driving, motorsports or cars in general, getting behind the wheel just felt like an expensive (and dangerous!) chore that my parents had forced upon me. My knowledge of the ins and outs of cars was and is to this day also extremely limited. Whilst I was at Sixth Form at the time and already receiving extra time for exams, I didn't have any clear Specific Learning Difficulty diagnosis so dyspraxia was never considered an explanation for my struggles/failings when learning to drive. When I did get diagnosed after my first year of Uni though I was like ahhh, that really does explain a lot! For example my difficulty telling right from left at times, spatial awareness (e.g. not slowing down early enough for roundabouts), erratic decision making and poor 'reading (of) the road'.

My first instructor was just a complete arsehole and was extremely quick to jump on the dual control pedals and criticise which was infuriating and knocked my confidence. It wasn't til failing my first test after about 30 hours of lessons that I got rid and acquired the services of my older brother's instructor from several years earlier (my bro passed first time with like 2 minors). I had been learning in a Mini One and it wasn't til driving my second instructor's new Ford Fiesta that I had something to compare it to. I was stalling the Mini regularly even after so many hours of lessons and the gear stick was awkward and clunky at the best of times. The Fiesta was like handling an arcade racing game steering wheel, and changing gear was smooth as anything. Try and find an instructor that makes you feel comfortable and not on edge and scared to put a foot wrong in front of all the time, it really does help. If I'd known I had dyspraxia I would have made my original instructor aware from the start and he may have been more understanding... Also try to ignore that you have dyspraxia and not make it a scapegoat for your difficulties. It's an obstacle, but it can be overcome with the right mindset. I guess some of you may be too defeatist about it which is holding you back.

Anyhow, I've not been behind a wheel since passing my test on 20th July 2010 now. I got a place at University less than a month later and I've been here ever since (struggling, naturally) and not needed to buy a car. It's a weight off my shoulders that I have a pink license and don't have to worry about that stress of 'passing tests' ever again, although I'll practically be a beginner again when I eventually invest in a car so I may spend a couple of hundred quid on refresher lessons or past plus. Good luck and don't give up!

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