Driving Lesson #2

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

So today went well, I am starting the cement the moving off procedure in my head now and I got a bit more comfortable breaking (which is always good when moving at anything above stopped). I edited the previous post with corrections from the previous day. Most notably I forgot about checking the position of the mirrors before putting my seat belt on and the hand brake should be the second thing to check after getting in the car.

So on to stopping! The technique it seems is to be able to decouple your feet from each other, I don’t think I do anything else that requires me to use my feet independently so it is a little difficult. The exact procedure from memory goes as follows:

  • Take your foot off the accelerator, this seems fairly obvious but is quite important really.
  • Squeeze the foot brake very gently, this may not even be necessary if you are on an inclining hill as gravity may well counteract the drive provided by the clutch.
  • Steer into where you want to park, by turning the steering wheel to the left
  • Once the front of the car is in position, steer the back in by turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction – straightening up the vehicle to the kerb.
  • Finally straighten the front wheels by returning steering wheel to the “12 o’clock” position.
  • Push the clutch right down to the floor (this is where I tend to press the foot brake down to the floor too).
  • Push the foot brake more so that you come to a total stop, again this may not be required depending on the inclination or of the hill, the reverse is true too, more brake may be required if you are going down hill.
  • Put the hand brake on.
  • Return the gear stick to neutral.

As I said I have been having some problems decoupling my feet, I seem to be getting there though. All in all a very positive lesson.

Driving Lesson #1

Monday, August 4th, 2008

I had my first driving lesson today with Kevin Tant, started off a little nervous however I got more relaxed as the lesson continued. I am going to try and write down what I learnt here to help me remember for the next lesson – please do not take this as official or instructional (in fact it may well be TOTALLY WRONG!) if you are learning to drive there are lots of excellent resources on Amazon and I honestly can’t stress how important it has to have an Approved Driving Instructor.

I suppose this post is inspired to an extent by several other learner drivers such as Sean Moore who have very kindly been sharing their experiences with the world.

First I had to check the doors, driver’s side was easy enough as you can see that it is flush with the side of the car, the passenger side can be done the same, then checked the hand brake was secure by pulling it up. Adjusted the seat, and in theory adjusted the steering wheel (if it was adjustable, which it wasn’t). Next task was to adjust mirrors, and then finally fastened my seat belt (and checked anyone under 14).

So that makes the cockpit drill – doors, hand brake, seat, steering wheel, mirrors, and seat belt (DHSSMS).

Next thing we went through was actually starting the car and moving (or ‘Moving Off’). With the handbrake on I started the engine, changed to first gear by pressing the clutch down to the floor and moving the gear stick into the first gear position. From there I was taught to find the biting point with the clutch pedal (that is where the clutch plate just meets the flywheel – to the point where some of the rotational drive is transferred from the flywheel to the clutch plate¬†and thus through the transmission, driveshaft, differential and¬†eventually the wheels). To actually move off I lightly pressed the accelerator (or ‘gas’ – grr Americanism – easier to say though) and brought the clutch up to the biting point. This is the point we checked the mirrors (internal, right door and left door) and blind spot before releasing the hand break. All of this got the car moving forwards, at which point the clutch could be released.

Just to point out that my instructor had explained stopping in advance of moving off! I was struggling to the foot work right and it was nearing the end of the lesson so I don’t really remember the sequence.

Once of the things that I found hardest was concentrating on what I was doing in the car (feet, hands, dials and so on) and managing to steer in the right direction and pay attention to the road, this is why we are not allowed behind the wheel of a car without ample instruction.