Learning to drive driving you mad?

(1000 Posts)
ShowOfHands Sun 27-Jun-10 07:33:55

So here it is, a learning to drive thread.

I think there are a few of us. I predict much swearing. Is it only me that goes one step forwards, only to go 8 steps backwards?

I'm SOH, have been learning for the grand total of a fortnight. DH is teaching me. My aim is to be driving by the end of September when dd is supposed to start nursery and they change the driving test again.

I live rurally (very rurally) and rely on dh for lifts everywhere. Even a supermarket trip is reliant upon him being home from work. And as he's a police officer, he's never home on time, works long hours and as a consequence, we're fairly isolated.

I am trying to focus on the new lease of life for us.

I don't have a provisional licence yet (still waiting for it) but live on private land with tracks of about 3 miles so am driving round a farm atm.

I'll kick off the swearing so there's no illusion of standing on ceremony. How the buggery feck do you look in 3 mirrors, one windscreen, at the speedometer and not cry all at the same time? Answers on a postcard.

Gauchita Sun 27-Jun-10 08:00:13

SOH, thanks for the thread smile

On the swearing front, my instructor said I swore so much he wanted to put a swear box in the car! He said I was the worst swearer out of all his pupils <embarrassed>

I'm Gauchita, I'm 29 and want to take the test end of July, beginning of August. I've been taking lessons since mid-February, but had to travel abroad both in March and May, so it was one step forward two steps backwards. Since coming back from the last trip, though I started driving a lot with DH and that has made a bit of a difference.

I live in a small town (and a hilly one at that!) but also rely on DH for almost every trip, even to take DD to nursery. My friends also drive so I feel like a child being the only one who has to rely on everyone for lifts.

One thing that doesn't stop worrying me is (with a bit of swearing) how the hell are you supposed to pass a test when you can fail if other drivers cock up and you end up in a situation that was tricky but where there was nothing much you could do!?

DH (who has been driving for 11 years now), didn't pass his test the first time 2 years ago when another driver was speeding and he found himself close to him at a passing place even though he had priority and the other driver was the one doing things wrong (examiner's words, not his). I can't stop thinking about this! You need all stars to align and make all idiots drive far away from where you're taking your test! Aaaand breathe ...

ShowOfHands Sun 27-Jun-10 08:14:08

I do worry about the test because you can't control other people. My dh failed his first test (nerves) and his second he should have failed because of the actions of the person in front but the examiner said it was totally unfair and what a shame he was looking the other way and couldn't note the error. I don't think most examiners are like that though.

I am concerned that when nervous my brain gets sharper but my limbs turn to jelly. I'm no good at physically performing when frightened. It's not a fair test of your ability to drive in other circumstances where there isn't somebody scratching on a clipboard next to you. I wonder if the whole thing wouldn't be better done with the instructor being able to certify you as fit to drive based on an overall knowledge of your ability. They could then allow you a new driver's licence or something. Then you could do the driving on your own having had the lessons and learnt the skills and then perhaps have a year's limit for the new driver's licence and then a test to exchange it for a full licence. Because it's not just competent drivers that fail tests but incompetent drivers who manage to perform for 45 minutes or whatever but are actually dangerous. Let somebody who has seen you driving for hours in all weathers judge you in the first instance. It's a mad and expensive way of doing things.

I'm dreading going on real roads. To get out of our village you have to turn left out of a junction on a busy road. But you're on quite a steep incline. It'll be a baptism of fire as I roll backwards into a tractor.

I never swear normally. Driving doesn't suit me at all. I get very, very frustrated.

All the best people are 29 you know. grin

Gauchita Sun 27-Jun-10 08:53:16

Your DH was lucky to have that examiner, I don't think they're all like that. Having an unfair examiner is one of my biggest fears.

I agree that this system isn't the best, you have people who can indeed drive but because of nerves/other drivers/sheer bad luck don't pass and then you have others who never indicate, speed, don't respect any rule and are on the road every day. And that's not even mentioning the cost of the whole process, which is ridiculous!

<whispers> Does anyone else sweat a lot while out on the road? I don't normally perspire that much but by the time I finish lessons I need a shower grin

BigWeeHag Sun 27-Jun-10 09:24:14

Hello grin I'm BWH, 33, 3 kids, live in a town but a town in the arsehole of nowhere-by-the-sea, so am desperate to learn.

DS1 has additional needs and his appointments are all in a town 15 miles away, to get there on public transport makes it more or less an all day job.

I had about 9 lessons last year I think, and have had 2 this year. I can drive OK in my car (SIL comes out with me) but I find it really hard to drive with the instructor.

Have to apply for a NI provisional (I only have a GB one), when that gets here I will do the theory. I am considering blowing the money and failing a test, just so that I know what to expect! Then I would be able to concentrate on the driving rather than the test the next time. It's a theory! grin

I wish with all my heart I had done this 16 years ago. Nightmare.

ShowOfHands Sun 27-Jun-10 09:58:39

Welcome BWH. I too wish I'd persevered at 17 but it was expensive, I was at college, it seemed that I had forever. Well, it's still expensive, that much hasn't changed.

I have a good friend who was very nervous about her test, so much so that her family booked it for her and the instructor knew about it but didn't tell her. So she carried on going to twice weekly lessons and one day they just drove to the test centre and she was told it was NOW. She said it helped her not be nervous, no time to get worked up, just enough time to accept it and it was over. She did this after having failed twice due to nerves. Helped enormously and I think it's a good idea.

I think the sweating's normal. Even after dh passed he had to have a shower and get changed after every journey for months. And he's fine now, so it must be possible.

I am so drained after each lesson I shake and have to sit down for half an hour.

Are you all using the theory books and things? I started reading one the other day that another MNer very kindly sent to me. I got to the first 'you'll motor through this book in no time' joke and despaired.

I think in an ideal world one of two things would happen. I could read a book/use a simulator to learn. Or somebody could insert a driving chip in my head. I hate learning. I don't like being crap at things, I don't like not understanding and making this many mistakes and I don't actually enjoy a minute of it. But I do enjoy the idea of it. Well the idea of having passed and being free. Does it just seem interminable to you?

citybranch Sun 27-Jun-10 11:21:05

I am a very nervous learner (well, not learning just now as really short of cash).

I switched to automatic which made a huge difference but I'm still very afraid. I really don't know why! I have tried 3 different instructors, maybe none of them were the right one....

I live close to tube station/transport so I do get by easily just now BUT I can't get to friends who live in the countryside etc, which frustrates me. Also, I'm usually a fairly capable person so my inability to drive really bugs me.

I drive a train for a living!

I need to find a way of getting over the fear. Hypnosis?

SugarMousePink Sun 27-Jun-10 12:09:15

Hvaing read all your posts, do you think there is a theme? We all sound like capable ladies who are used to being able to do stuff without too much hassle...are we over-thinking it? I am normally really quick to pick things up so it does my head in that I still can't drive!

I'm 31, started learning at 22 with BSM and shelled out a small fortune doing 2 hour lessons every week. Had a lovely instructor but completely went to bits in the test - hands were shaking so much I couldn't change gear! The whole experience was so awful (culminating in me having to stop the car mid-test because I was crying my eyes out and was in too much of a state to drive), that I didn't get behind the wheel again for almost 4 years.

i did the odd lesson on and offbut I kept putting it off and cos I lived in the city I dodn't need a car so it wasn't too much of an issue. However I'm now at the stage where spending 3+ hours a day on buses and trains to get to work is doing my head in. Not to mention the amount of theory tests I've taken (and passed) but have expired as I have kept putting off re-sitting my test...

Am on lesson 11 with local chap who is very nice and good with nervous drivers. Re-sat and passed theory last Friday and instructor is booking my test for me...anticipated date of armageddon this is first week in August. I'm not ashamed to say that I am completely shitting myself. In fact I feel sick everytime I think about it.

Any tips on how to handle nerves would be greatly appreciated - short of valium I have no idea what I'm gonna do!! I quite enjoy driving but the minute we start talking about the test I completely go to bits and make every bloody mistake in the book! Is anybody else near test day yet? <feeling sick with fear emoticon>

ShowOfHands Sun 27-Jun-10 13:49:30

I think if you go to your doctor he can prescribe beta blockers. Lots of people say they help enormously. They give you a single dose for the day of the test. Hypnosis is probably the only other option. I do find that pretence is quite useful. If I get in the car and pretend I'm confident and relaxed, I do drive marginally better.

I think you might be right with your theory. I am, I like to think, fairly bright and pick things up easily. I've never struggled to learn things really but then I've only learnt things I'm interested in. I took up photography and develop my own pictures for example but I find it fascinating. I couldn't give a monkey's left testicle about drive shafts and biting points. I just want to get from a to b safely. I do not want to spend the money and time on something that I struggle with this much. But I have to. It's so consuming.

Meow75 Sun 27-Jun-10 20:37:46

Can I give you all some encouragement?!?

I am now 34, learnt to drive when I was 24/25 and hated it intensely. My first test was the week before my 25th birthday and I put so much pressure on myself to pass that I was just gutted when I failed. I didn't see a 50mph sign and thought the road was a 40, and got failed for going too slowly, as well as waiting too long to emerge from a junction.

Second test was a few days before Christmas in the same year, very cold and ALMOST snowing, but I passed with flying colours.

I now drive a 2 seat convertible sports car after having a series of second hand bangers as our main car was the one registered to my husband. I am now confident to drive any vehicle - even minibuses with students from my school halfway across the country to residential trips and football matches, etc.

I love driving, particularly in my "Colin" (so named because I was able to buy him after getting some money from my grandad's estate after his death). The joy I get on days like today of being able to get the roof down, get some suncream on and go out is amazing, and even if you never have a car like mine, I think the feeling will still be very similar.

Give yourselves a chance, especially the OP on the other driving frustration thread, who was feeling down after only 4 lessons. Give it time, it will come. My husband has been driving 7 years longer than me and he says that he thinks I'm the better driver.

Good luck to you all, and happy driving!!

Gauchita Sun 27-Jun-10 20:43:38

I agree, it's so frustrating to be doing/learning something that you're not precisely good at and make so many mistakes!

I'm an interpreter, my brain is used to listening to language A, processing it and translating it into language B in a matter of milliseconds. You'd think the process of mirrors + gears + steering would not be more challenging that that! grin Well, it is.

On the practice front, this weekend I managed to drive quite a lot with DH. Roundabouts are still quite nerve-racking <sigh>

Sugar, I'm also aiming to take it first week of August. I'll book it next week <nervous>

iloveasylumseekers Sun 27-Jun-10 20:45:43

Absolutely @Meow75, I was exactly the same. I failed at 17 and tried again at 25. Always hated it; never imagined I would ever get the hang of gears, steering, manouevres, and other drivers. I had to pass though as I moved to suburbia and needed to drive between two different places of work, as well as commute by car for the first time. It probably took me about a year after passing (2nd time) before I didn't actively hate driving, and probably another two before I didn't think twice about jumping in the car.

Now I love it, more so when you can drive a nice car (or in my case, borrow DHs!).

It just takes time, though. OP and others, most people hate it to start with, but once you're out there and driving for yourself it can be a wonderfully liberating experience, once you finally "get it" (which you will). Good luck!

2boysandbean Sun 27-Jun-10 20:47:36

Hello I am almost 30 preg with number 3 and taking my test in a few weeks eeeeeeeek

Gauchita Sun 27-Jun-10 20:50:32

City, can you do any driving privately? I have a tight budget atm so I'm taking a lesson every two weeks but driving every day with DH for at least an hour, and it does help.

ShowOfHands Sun 27-Jun-10 21:38:57

2boysandbean, my MIL passed her test when pg with her dc3. She was very pregnant indeed and jokes that his considerable neuroticism is due to her stress levels at the time (he's utterly lovely really, just sensitive).

I can't think of anything worse than a convertible. It's hot and exposed. I don't like hot weather. I'd rather drive a refrigerated van grin. Actually, I'd prefer something like this. For now I'm more than happy in my VW Polo. I am hoping that once I can drive, when dh is working silly hours or away on a course, I can chuck the tent in the back of my van (oh yes, I will have my own hippy van) and take dd camping.

I'm definitely only improving because I practice daily. More than a couple of days between lessons and I forget where the handbrake is, how to accelerate and why it's a good idea to keep my eyes open.

SugarMousePink Sun 27-Jun-10 21:48:00

Might go and speak to Dr then. I do suffer with nerves really badly (did with exams at school as well). DH was worried that if I was so nervy about taking driving test how would I react in the car in an emergency situation. Well had a lesson a few weeks ago where a boy racer carved me up good and proper, meaning that I had to do an emergency stop in order not to slam into the parked car in front (was pulling out to pass parked car when twat on my ass decided to overtake me at the last possible minute). Bizarrely I was absolutely fine (quite calm etc.) and instructor said my reaction time was good as I was on the footbrake before he was! It actually made me feel a bit more confident about my driving. It's just the damn test that sends me loopy. I'm dreading it.

PS. Does anyone else have a thing about roundabouts? They are bloody terrifying and I am always worried that I will pull out at the wrong time!

just marking spot so i can come back to this.

Hello Eveyone. I am the OP from this threadI got here (sorry it took so long)

SOH, Thankyou so much for this thread! I just finished my lesson and couldn't wait to get here to vent my spleen!

Well, Today's lesson was a mixture of bizarre fuckery, multi-task overload, and lots of sweating.

For the first time ever, ADI took me out on the open road (eek) Its a road that I usually travel on to work, so was familiar with the dynamics of it (3 speed changes, a speed camera and an uphill junction onto it) - Jeeesus H. Christ. I was doing nicely on my practice road. Thinking 'I RULE! - I can DO this fnarfnarfnar' Then I had to slow down, bear left and stop on an uphill section of road, and join a (fast moving) section of road. It was a total shock! I was dithering about holding the 'bite' and keeping handrake on, looking at the supersonic traffic heading towards me, and trying to keep calm/not stall/stop/roll backwards..

Anyway, ADI gave me OK to take handbrake off and join the traffic, but I ended up veering too much into the kerb (my steering is shite) and we sort of bounced along while I panicked and dicked about with the steering. God knows what White Van Man behind me thought. I managed to get onto the main stretch, and was OK - I managed to shange gears smoothly, and kept my speed and steering level. I then had to turn into a left hand filter lane, then back onto the practice road. He made me do that whole thing three more times. I was a lot smoother on the third time and didn't kill us both, but FUCK ME! I am surprised he even wants me back next week!

Oh, and I think I should introduce myself too - I am 31 next week, have been driving since the beginning of June this year. DH only passed his test 8 years ago after 5 tests and (seemingly) millions of lessons and 3 different instructors. I need to learn after the NHS closed my long-stay ward and relocated to a house 14 miles away. I love my job, and dont want to give it up because I can't drive. Also, DD is going to be two in November, and I would like to be able to go further afield with her than the local softplay place.

I Always thought I was a quick learner too. I can pick up anything mechanical quite swiftly, and have even built a PC from scratch. However driving seems like astrophysics to me...

Hello!!
Im the ferret I am 26 and im learning to drive.
I started lessons last year but then stopped when I got too pregnant and had 6 months off (I swore I wouldnt wait that long, insisted I would be back learning 2 weeks after giving birth. HA!)

So far have had 6 lessons and hopefully shall be taking my test in August. Have bought my new car already, a nice shiny silver 206 with 5 doors so it's nice and easy to get the kids in and out.

Does anyone else have the thing where you can confidently and expertly do something one lesson but then on the next lesson you seem to mess it up every time?

Im great at parallel parking and turning in the road, but cant seem to master reversing around corners, I just cant seem to get my head around it. sad

I swear like a trooper, at first I blamed it on being pregnant but now I dont have an excuse for my potty mouth, the other week I used the expression "cockend" Ive never said that before in my life! I honestly dont know where it came from!

Meddles, on my very first lesson (the first time i'd ever been behind the wheel) my instructor took me out on the A5, a duel carriageway with lots of fast lorries etc
Ithink a part of me sort of died that day!
Instructor is now known as "evil cow" Yes, to her face! She just laughs at me.

PlasticCenturion Mon 28-Jun-10 16:34:19

(tis SOH, watched too much Dr Who over the weekend)

I am so mild mannered and pleasant usually. Driving? Oh I turn into a fishwife. It goes a bit like this....

DH: Now gently ease up on the clutch and feel for the bite point

<stalls>

<starts again>

DH: Now feel for the bite point
SOH: IT'S MOVED. THE COCKING BASTARD THING HAS BASTARD MOVED.
DH: Now ease up a little more and...
SOH: JUST SHUT UP, DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO FUCKING NICE ALL THE TIME?

I swear it's like I swap personalities for the duration.

Had a bloody awful lesson today. I don't know what was wrong. I was so hot and things I'm usually fine with were just beyond me. It was so hot and I was sweating and annoyed. I do find that I am great at something one day and useless the next.

Reversing round a corner I can do. I realised that the trick is to adjust your wing mirror to point down so that you can line yourself up. Don't rely on it and keep checking backwards (and forwards as your front end comes round) but if you do it slowly and keep checking your wing mirror it's much easier to judge what you're doing. Just put the wing mirror back up afterwards.

I can drive backwards apparently.

My main problem is speed. I don't go above 25 if I can help it. 30 feels so fast I could cry. And I know that the first time I go out on the road, the only route out is a hill junction so I'll probably roll backwards and into a car behind me.

I might give up learning to drive and try flying unaided. I'd be better at it.

Yes! I thought I was awesome at parking, until I rolled over a carrier bag that was full of glass bottles that exploded everywhere! ( I thought it was an empty bag)It was in a layby, and on my 3rd lesson. That set me back totally, as I was so shaky afterwards, I forgot pretty much everything. Whenever I am driving along, I always have to ask the ADI 'what now? - Shall I change gear yet?' etc. I have reversed around a corner once, and it was OK, but that was on a private road at 8 in the morning and no traffic. I think If had asked me to do it today, I can tell you now, that I would have forgotten!

Good luck for the upcoming test Ferret! I think I am looking at at least another - I dunno - 10 years to take mine!

SOH, I did that today! Thankfully there were no cars behind me, but on the 2nd go at up-the-hill-junction, I rolled backwards as i faffed around with the handbrake too soon and ADI had to slam the brake on. <shudders with shame>

turkeyboots Mon 28-Jun-10 16:38:08

Can I join? I'm Turkeyboots, started lessons in Jan at the age of 31 and taking my test next TUESDAY. Have done about a million lessons (68 according to driving teacher) and fairly confident. But have to pass as DH is going to the US for work for 10 days in August and without him to shuttle DC to nursery I can't work. And have to be able to drive for Sept when DD starts school.

Started learning when I was 18, but had a dogdy old man who kept fondling my knee. And the next one had me doing 50 mph down the main road on lesson 2 - and he didn't have dual controls.

And I live in Swindon - home of the magic roundabout. Thanking god the test centre moved last year and it is no longer on the test!

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