I never thought I'd 'get' it - but I just passed my test. Thoughts for other learners inside. [Automatic - UK]

Learning to drive, driving, and using public transport

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MrLiquorish
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I never thought I'd 'get' it - but I just passed my test. Thoughts for other learners inside. [Automatic - UK]

Post by MrLiquorish » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:36 pm

Hi all,

I've been hoping for a while that I'd be able to share this post with you all, and try to share what I've found helpful on my journey (no pun intended) of learning to drive. I hope the below contains some useful information, and anyone who wishes to is welcome to ask as many questions as they like.

After having manual lessons with a relative a few years ago (which fizzled out mostly due to issues with the car) I decided to start learning again. The car, by the way, was pretty old and very basic, with some mechanical issues also, which didn't help!

Before starting practical lessons again, I studied for and passed my Theory lessons and then began to look for an instructor.

Deciding to Learn Automatic


The thought of learning in a manual filled me with a low-level sense of dread, whereas the thought of learning in an automatic filled me with excitement. Some people were not very encouraging of learning in an automatic, making arguments for learning in a manual. I was also worried that some people might think it 'lesser' to learn in an automatic.

Ultimately, I realised that actually it would be more courageous to go in the face of these negative views and do what I knew was right for me (and learn in an automatic) than it would be to learn in a manual just because of what other people might think. I also had an email exchange with a friendly manual driving instructor who put to rest some worries and after hearing what I had to say, was encouraging of my desire to learn automatic.

A couple of common arguments are:

ONE - If you pass automatic, you'll only be able to drive an automatic car
TWO - If you pass automatic, you won't be able to drive someone else's manual car if you need to.

While these are both valid arguments, my thoughts on this are:

ONE - Unless I am ever lucky enough to buy a particular classic or sports car with a manual gearbox (or the more likely scenario of an 'experience day' in a manual car), I would ONLY buy an automatic anyway, so that doesn't matter.

TWO - Whilst that is true, I don't know if the insurance I would have would even cover that, so that argument might already be null and void.

There are other arguments against automatics, such as expense, insurance cost, and fuel efficiency, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to speak on this (and how true or not true it is), and would encourage people to do their own research if this concerns them.

For me, being able to have both hands on the wheel more of the time, and more focus to be dedicated to what's going on 'out there' as opposed to the gears, is a real bonus.

THE DRIVING

Although I think definitely easier in an automatic, it was still no walk in the park for much of my lessons.

For a long time I would be nervous before my lessons and I struggled to understand certain concepts. I just felt I would never 'get' it and lessons were often a stressful and unpleasant experience.

In total I was learning for about 13 months, and had in the region of about 50 1 hour lessons. I appreciate this is a lot, and whilst I could have taken my test earlier (and my instructor would have been happy for me to do so) I was waiting to feel ready, and I'm glad I did.

Some pieces of advice I would share for learners:

- Read up on driving and the highway code. Although I'd passed my theory test, reading through some of the road markings in the highway code definitely helped me. If you study the information available to you in it I believe it will certainly help you (there are also other books such as the official DVSA 'driving: the essential skills' as well as the computer discs and Apps you can get for your theory).

- Roundabouts. I HATED roundabouts. Especially the big ones. It was one of the worst things for me. We have a couple of big ones near me that whilst you're in a particular lane, swing right out in a way that feels very unnatural (and meant I wrongly, without indicating) changed lanes a few times on at least one lesson. (It didn't help that the markings were worn away, either). For this I found it helped to look at the lane marking to my right and just stay just left of it, rather than looking at both lane markings and trying to stay in the middle of them. I find this helps keeps focus.

- Giving way at roundabouts. For quite a long while I was being too hesitant on these (and then after when trying not to be, too ambitious!) . I was misunderstanding the concept of giving way and doing it in situations such as cars waiting at one of the roads to the right that handed started moving yet. I later came to understand that you are not waiting for the roundabout to be totally clear all over, but waiting for a safe gap without cars and giving way to any directly sweeping (or getting close to) past you. If the roundabout is big enough, you and your car are quick enough, you may be able to safely move off if a car is coming around but is far enough away/going slowly enough etc.

- Mini roundabouts. These were also a source of confusion, mostly the idea of 'giving way to the right'. The car on the road in front facing you might be physically to the right of you, (as you are physically to the right of him/her, also) but if they are going straight ahead, and you are turning right, you are going to be 'sweeping' across from their right, and therefore they give way to you. I found it helpful to imagine coloured arrows above the road showing my direction of travel which would help me understand when I have priority. I believe this is actually shown in the highway code, had I seen that before I might have saved myself a lot of confusion - one of the examples of why reading up is good!

As you can see, most of my issues were with roundabouts!

If any more thoughts cross my mind, I'll share them.

One thing I would add is - test nerves. Nerves seemed to create a mind-fog for me which was not helpful at all. I did not perform as well on my warm-up lesson or my test as I normally would do on a lesson, but fortunately I passed anyway. I'm not sure the best advice on how to combat this, but believing you had potentially failed early on (as I did) helped me relax. I know someone else who had the same experience.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have!

Lucy
Getting settled in
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Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:48 pm

Re: I never thought I'd 'get' it - but I just passed my test. Thoughts for other learners inside. [Automatic - UK]

Post by Lucy » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:02 pm

Congratulations! It is such a great feeling to pass your test. I don't know the exact number of hours it took me but it was over at least 2 years and definitely a lot more than 50 - probably nearer 200. I seem to remember reading that 47 is about average but I could have completely made that up to make myself feel better when I was learning haha!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well - I similarly struggled with pulling out/giving way at roundabouts.

MrLiquorish
New member - welcome them!
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:05 pm

Re: I never thought I'd 'get' it - but I just passed my test. Thoughts for other learners inside. [Automatic - UK]

Post by MrLiquorish » Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:22 pm

Lucy wrote:Congratulations! It is such a great feeling to pass your test. I don't know the exact number of hours it took me but it was over at least 2 years and definitely a lot more than 50 - probably nearer 200. I seem to remember reading that 47 is about average but I could have completely made that up to make myself feel better when I was learning haha!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well - I similarly struggled with pulling out/giving way at roundabouts.
Thanks Lucy! Did you pass manual or automatic?

Lucy
Getting settled in
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:48 pm

Re: I never thought I'd 'get' it - but I just passed my test. Thoughts for other learners inside. [Automatic - UK]

Post by Lucy » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:40 pm

MrLiquorish wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:22 pm

Thanks Lucy! Did you pass manual or automatic?
I stuck it out with manual - the gear changes were ok for me (I think probably due to years of playing musical instruments with each hand doing different things), it was things like knowing how far I was from other objects and being able to judge the speed of oncoming traffic and therefore whether it was safe to pull out etc that got me. And not just judging when it's safe to enter a roundabout, but getting in the right line, changing lanes appropriately and needing to focus on where I'm going and also all the other traffic etc at the same time. I do sometimes wonder if I'd have gotten there sooner with automatic but, it's done now so it's not like I'll be getting the money I spent on lessons back!

Glad you stuck it out, hope you've been able to celebrate :)

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