Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Day Zero Project: Learn to drive

Due to a slight problem defrosting a chicken at the weekend (in that it didn't) we ended up staying in on Sunday (to eat the chicken we couldn't eat on Saturday) so I didn't get to post my Ice photo. I'll do a double whammy next Sunday.

Way back on January 1st, 2012, I set myself 101 things to do in the next 1001 days. That's about three and a bit years to do all the things on my list.

A year on, I'm taking stock of how I've been getting on with the tasks I set myself. And so far, it's not too bad.

Though of course, the first one on the list is as yet uncompleted.

I'm wanting to learn to drive. I can drive very well in an automatic, but I really want to master a manual. It'll be so much more practical and it'll give me the opportunity to be a bit more independent instead of relying on Mr Click for transport everywhere.

Plus if we ever wanted to take the campervan on holiday, we could take the car along too so we'd not be without transport.

My provisional license expires this year and I never got around to updating it to my married name, so I figure at some point this year I'll take care of that.

I got the hang of driving a manual quite quickly but I just don't get on with changing gears. No one has been able to explain it in a way that makes sense to me. I just don't get them. I'm thinking about using a different driving instructor to see if that helps.

But at the moment this one is still firmly on the 'to do' list.


  1. I learnt for a while in an automatic but have recently re-started lessons in a manual. Changing gears whilst moving two feet differently AND steering AND looking at the road is what caught me out the first time - but now I'm older, I've driven more (in an automatic, but still on roads, in traffic) it's coming a lot easier. I have more confidence, I'm putting less pressure on myself and I'm much happier about driving.

    What exactly is it about changing gears that you can't do? Is it something I could try to explain online?

    1. I think it is a confidence issue. I had a lot of practice in an automatic and I felt like I had one less thing to think about while I was driving. In one of my last driving lessons a ball and small child ran into the road and I had to do an emergency stop for real and I felt really shaken up by the fact that I couldn't remember what I was supposed to do with the clutch, whereas in the automatic all I had to do was brake.

      I'm not sure what it is I don't get even. I struggle to know exactly when to change gear and I don't seem to notice any change in the sound or feel of the car to help give me a clue. I'm okay going up through the gears as I pull away because that's just a sort of routine I got into, but when I've got to figure it out based on the road, the speed and the car it just throws me.

    2. Okay, well, I'm in the same boat re: one more thing to think about! If you're braking significantly, you need to put the clutch right down - so for an emergency stop, just get it straight down before/with the brake. Any time you come to a stop, or slow significantly (for example, slowing down to turn a corner - you'll probably change down a gear or two then, too - so you'll need the clutch down for that!), you put the clutch down. Brake pedal down, clutch down.

      As for changing gears, your revometer will help you. When you hit 2000 revs (or probably just the big "2"!), change up a gear. The engine will sound louder, like it's whining at you toddler-style. You might also feel it trying to pull away from you. Some cars - my instructor's car included - actually has a really useful up-arrow which lights up when you have enough speed and revs to go up a gear.

      There are gear-speed ratios for each gear, meaning that each gear can be used comfortably between a certain range of speeds, but I think that might vary from car to car - or at least from petrol to diesel cars.

      Dan says:
      first to second gear - almost instantly!
      second to third - ~20mph
      third to fourth - ~30mph
      fourth to fifth - ~40-50mph
      This is apparently economical. Sometimes in a petrol car this should be increased as they have higher revs, but that's an approximation.

      I definitely think it's worth finding an instructor through word of mouth - someone who has good reviews and a high(ish) success rate - and essentially telling them you want to start completely from scratch. Your automatic lessons will be incredibly helpful when it comes to things like road experience, but everything else is so different, comparing them just makes mountains out of molehills and causes problems!

      Good luck, and you can always tweet/PM me if there's anything else I can (try to) explain!

    3. I think I'm going to have to print that out and keep in in the car as a cheat sheet when I start my lessons again.

      I'll definitely be in contact again with more questions... now to get my Provisional License updated and renewed!


Let me know what you think. :-)