Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Driving: instructor versus non-instructor

For weeks, I struggled with the idea of having an instructor versus a friend teach me how to drive. I could afford the former, and I had plenty of the latter. People had mixed opinions. Some balked at how I could even think of coughing up $400 for 6 hours of training. Some felt it is a necessary skill done best with professional help. Of course there is this hesitancy of getting into a friends car and learn driving. I don’t think I would be comfortable if someone learnt driving using my car.

I wouldn’t have thought of a driving school if I was a student. But I wouldn’t have bought a car in the first place if I was a student. If I could afford a car, I could afford driving lessons too. A little bit of market research later, I had signed up for a driving school.

I think that was a great idea. It is like being taught at home versus being taught at school. Of course I hear that great men like Tagore were home-schooled. But if Tagore were to learn driving, I’d recommend he go to a driving school too.

First, you need to be with someone who is more confident and less scared than you are. I am talking about steering something at least a few tones heavy, in the right direction, and at the right speed. You might not end up head on colliding with another car, but even a minor dent or scratch caused by a small accident is not desirable.

The best thing I liked is that my instructor has her own set of brakes. So while for the first few hours I struggled with how to and how much to move the steering, stopping my vehicle during need was one less thing to care about.

My instructor talks to me non-stop. At first it was annoying that she should ask me how sweets are made in India when I am struggling to juggle the steering, indicators, mirrors, brake, and accelerator. I was holding on to the steering tight, as if I was holding on to my life, my knuckles white. I was confusing between brakes and the gas (accelerator). Every time I saw a car behind me, I felt mentally pressurized to do something. She calmly asked me to speed up if I saw a car behind me. I have never felt more helpless.

Eventually you get the hang of it. My instructor had more confidence in me than I did in myself. She encouraged me, challenged me, even pushed me. The first friend who started to teach me drive never let me hit the gas. The second friend almost curled up in a fetal position on the rightmost corner of the car, holding on to the door and his dear life while I drove. Their fears are understandable. But things didn’t work out.

2 classes with the instructor and I had graduated from residential buildings to little streets. I was braking, accelerating, indicating, yielding and parallel parking. I was backing around the curb. I was changing lanes. Freeway driving hasn’t happened yet, but it will not be long.

To cut a long story short, go to a driving school if you can afford it. It is expensive, but it is better than the tension I cause myself and my friends in the process of learning to drive. See it as an investment. No amount of parking-lot driving can prepare you for driving on the main streets. I strongly recommend learning from an instructor rather than be a road hazard. I’d rather lose money than lose friends.

Btw, thanks for the good wishes. I am now the proud owner of a nice car.



Philotics said...

Nice to see that you side my opinion - Go to a driving school than be road-menace to other drivers.

Pavi!!!! said...

Congrats for ur car!

Ya…I think the instructor is the best person to learn from. A friend is good to practice with and to enhance ur skills. Personally I used SEVERAL (countless)hrs of the hubby and I think 3-4 hrs of the driving instructor before I was ready for the driving test. They teach u in no time n also have inside inputs abt the route to be taken during the driving test n stuff.

Merlin said...


Chaos said...

Congratulations on the new car :).

You are right about the driving school. even though, i myself was tutored by Dad when young, i think it had more to do with the general dictum back then ( and i think here in India it still continues) of Dad's doing the honors. But with the way traffic has worsened in almost every city, i think now a driving school would be the better option.

Cheers and all the best for your good driving days ahead. :).

Syrals said...

Congrats on your new car!

Have fun and enjoy this new ride too with all your other accomplishments. :) Take care.

CM-Chap said...

Congratz.. Very true... BTW, Im going for my driving test next friday... and going to start classes tomorrow. Though I knw drivg in India :)

ne8883 said...

loved ur blog. its so fresh. i happened to come across it by chance :)

after reading ur driving escapades only 1 thing comes to mind .... Driving Miss Sunshine ;)