Driving Lesson #22

November 24, 2008 – 21:22

Today was another chance to go through my driver record, Kev got to tick off a few more of the boxes which is always a nice feeling. I am definitely suffering from a case of diminishing returns when it comes to driving, Kev and I had a discussion at the end of the lesson about trying to get more polish on my driving rather than learning any new skills.

My driver record now looks like this:

Independent

Cockpit Checks, Safety Checks, Controls & Instruments, Safe Positioning, Mirrors – Vision & Use, Signals and Pedestrian Crossings. (7 in total)

Seldom Prompted

Moving Away & Stopping, Anticipation and Planning, Use of Speed, Other Traffic, Junctions, Roundabouts, Turning the Vehicle Around, Reversing, Parking, Darkness, Weather Conditions. (11 in total)

Prompted

Dual Carriageways, Legal Responsibilities, Environmental Issues, Security (4 in total)

Not Covered / Not Known

Passengers & Carrying Loads, Emergency Stops (2)

I agree with all of that, Emergency Stops have not been covered at all yet, and we haven’t spent enough time on Dual Carriageways to make any really judgment. The little box on the bottom right is a little hard to gauge as they are all covered in the theory test (not sure why they are on the drivers record really).

Annoyingly enough the Brighton and Hove test centers are closing on the 8th of January and don’t appear to have any free slots to book a test so it looks like I am going to be booking my test in Burgess Hill in February. Gives me plenty more time to practice!

Driving Lesson #21

November 17, 2008 – 21:32

Today was quite a lot of driving around and a couple of manoeuve, based upon the deficiency in my driving last week. The majority of it went well, both turning round in the road and reverse parking worked well, it helped me greatly to look back over my notes and refresh my memory.

The other major thing we worked on was gear changes approaching junctions, particularly my lack of them! I have a tendency to forget to change gear and try and do roundabouts at 15mph in 4th gear or something equally daft. We decided that this was because I am pre-occupied with understanding the situation, and thus I forget to go through all of the essential steps when approaching a junction.

I am getting there, slowly but at least I feel like I am driving. Kev discovered that the Brighton and Hove DSA test centers are closing in January meaning we (and all Brighton and Hove students) will have to drive to Eastbourne or Burges Hill to take their test, adding a good 20-30 minutes travel to and from the test centers. Never mind eh.

Lastly the car started smoking as we pulled up, it had possibly been smoking before that. It appears that part of the high preasure water system had burst leaving the radiator with little or no active cooling. Feel sorry for Kev he has only got the car back from the garrage recently.

Driving Lesson #20

November 10, 2008 – 20:43

So today was a mock test, one of several before I take my actual test. We drove down to the test center in Brighton Marina where Kev explained the test to me, how majors and minors worked and what would score as what. I still haven’t done emergency stops so we could not cover that, other than that it seemed pretty much as I had read and expected.

Kev got me to do three manoeuvres, the first was turning round in the road, which I did, not without hitting the kerb (I forgot to steer when reversing) so that was a major. Reverse parking was difficult as it was pitch black and my steering was off at best so Kev had to intervene as I was misjudging the position of the car rather seriously. Reverse round the corner went better, however I hit the kerb again as I overcompensated – all three would be easier in the daylight so I am not overly concerned about them.

My general driving wasn’t that bad, in a couple of places I was slow to move off, and my use of mirrors and the MSPSL routine left something to be desired, particularly after making a mistake.

In the end I had 4 majors and 13 minors, which isn’t too bad – it does show how important plenty of practice is.

So, next week should be more practice. In the mean time I have bought myself a copy of Focus’s Driving Test Successs – Practical Simulator which seems okay, not really that close to actual driving although I think it is helping me learn the sequences.

Going to give myself tonight off to watch Spooks and maybe play a little Team Fortress 2 or EVE Online (Who have their winter expansion released tomorrow).

Driving Lesson #19

November 3, 2008 – 21:10

So, Kev sprung a surprise on me today… a silver car, not just a silver car but a Renault. More or less the same thing I guess, well all the foot pedals were in the right place if somewhat sticky (not good). And most of the controls make sense.

The lesson itself went much the same as the past three lessons, having issues with my feet but getting my way through it. Moving off wasn’t perfect either, stalled more often than I would of liked and stuck around at junctions longer than I should have.

So, next week Kev is going to give me a Mock test, or assessment if you will. This should be interesting as it gives me a chance to be under a little more pressure, which hopefully will speed up the learning process and motivate me a little.

So, stay tuned for next week!

Driving Lesson #18

October 27, 2008 – 20:38

I had another ‘funny feet’ day today, not as bad as two lessons ago however. I was being a little hasty trying to move off – this is part of becoming more confident we think, I am no longer able to crawl away without any gas on the flat as I am bringing the clutch up much faster. This means I have to adjust my technique sligtly by putting on the gas and then bringing the clutch up, this is often coupled with taking the hand brake off. It is a lot to think about at once, but I picked it up well.

I was proud of my turning round in the road, I managed it without prompting, questioning myself or hitting the kerb, thus I only had to do it once, much nicer on my legs. Reversing round a corner in the dark was hard work as I kept loosing the kerb, had to try it three times before I managed it. Didn’t do great on the last try either.

I am still happy with my progress! Next lesson same time next week!

Driving Lesson #17

October 13, 2008 – 20:46

Today was another funny driving lesson my feet weren’t quite right, and I kept doing silly things made a bit of a mess of turning round in the road and didn’t get reversing round a corner quite right. One of the things I was doing particularly wrong was putting the clutch down while breaking, for some reason I have it stuck in my head that clutch goes down when slowing down, rather than just before I come to a stop. Kev got me too take my foot of clutch pedal when driving and rest it on the side (which has done wonders for my ankles) it also delays me putting the clutch down.

The second thing I had problems with today was again braking, I was a little heavy on the brake which probably comes down to anticipation or not as my case is.

I learn’t something about roundabouts though, if I scan round the roundabout in a clockwise direction when approaching/stopped at the roundabout I check the most important thing last, i.e. traffic from the right.

There were many more little things, Kev seems to think that after the current block of lessons are up I probably won’t need another full block before I am ready to take my test. Scary stuff.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog on iTunes

October 9, 2008 – 21:37

I promised myself I would blog about Dr. Horrible again once it was released on iTunes UK, it seems like an age since it was available for free over the web, and then so quickly it disappeared again. It is however now available through iTunes UK, along with the sound track (which has been available for a few weeks now). Unfortunately I didn’t pick it up on my RSS feeds until too late to download and watch tonight, hopefully get a chance to plug in and watch at the weekend.

Thank you Joss, Jed, Zach and Maurissa and everyone who plied their trade to bringing this story to life!

Driving Lesson #16

October 6, 2008 – 19:41

So, today went much better than last week. We did quite a nice loop of the area  I am contemplating taking a GPS with me next time and leaving it logging on the back seat so that I actually know where I have actually been. Maybe I will do that when I have passed my test, could be a little distracting if it started beeping at me.

I got two major things from my lesson today; first being that after last week driving isn’t that bad after all, the second is that speed limit signs should be seen on both sides of the road like a gate.

The above example is taken from the A259 (actually it is flipped along the horizontal axis for the sake of clarity) moving towards Peacehaven in a 40 zone, passing a side road that is national speed limit before moving into a 30 zone.

What I did was see the national speed limit signs and speed up, in my head I had seen the signs but not really thought about it too careful, what I need to remember is speed limits are like gates you have to pass through them for them to take effect, i.e. if I had been turning left up the side road I would have passed through the national speed limit gates.

Another lesson next Monday.

Driving Tips

October 2, 2008 – 18:48

The BBC has posted a list of 10 “driving tips” to make your driving experience more enjoyable and rewarding, the article has the added advantage of providing an insight into the day-to-day driving skills that people develop on thier own without any formal instruction.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7635486.stm

I particuarly liked number 3 – “Make Eye Contact When You Can”; which is something I picked up a few years ago while walking around town making eye contact with people walking towards you often helped both parties to pass eachother without bumping or jostling. It is not something I had thought about with regard to driving, although I am going to try and put it into practice at pedestrian crossings if I get a chance.

Driving Lesson #15

September 29, 2008 – 18:59

Grrr… argh… that didn’t go so well had massive problems with my feet today stalled on hill starts wanted to accelerate round corners, people beeping at me – if you are in the 0.01% of people that beep at learner drivers please try to remember it makes it worse! – Kev went through strategies for keeping moving on minor to major junctions.

I can’t think of a way to draw it as a picture but basically it is as follows:

  1. Coming up to a junction, whilst scanning – ask yourself “is it clear?” (this is in the “I can see no cars” and the “I can clearly see both oncoming traffic and traffic you are joining)
  2. If the answer is “no” – continue up to the “commit point” – that is the give way line – asking the same question.
  3. If the answer becomes “yes” check your speed and change gear as appropriate (<5mph = first, everything else = second).
  4. If the answer remains “no” when you reach the commit point, stop, put the handbrake on, change into first and be ready to move off when it is clear.

My brain is a bit “fuzzy” after that lesson, so as with everything don’t take it a good driving practice or anything similar – it is just what I taken away from what Kev has taught.

Next Lesson: Same time next week.