Welcome to Part 3 of Jess’ Driving Diary. The Driving Diary will be a weekly blog of the driving lessons for a 17 year old pupil but will be from the perspective of both the pupil and the instructor. Our aim is to help learners understand that the challenges they encounter are dealt with by most pupils and that they need not be as nervous about driving as they think. It will allow them to follow the lessons from the beginning to test of Jess Smith and her driving instructor Nick Freeman. We will hopefully bring you the emotions, practical and technical elements of learning to drive.
The Pupil – Jess Smith
Jess Smith is a 17 year old young lady who hails from the glamorous town of Southend on Sea in Essex. She is a generally confident person. Jess enjoys her sport and has good eye hand coordination, which will definitely help whilst learning to drive. Jess is presently studying A Level English Language, English Literature, History and RE. Her long term goals are to become a primary school teacher.
Nick Freeman is a Southend on Sea based driving instructor with 9 years’ experience in teaching people to drive cars. Nick spent 24 years in the Navy where he defended this great Isle of ours and got the bug for training people albeit in a completely different style and without the guns of course. For his sins Nick is a West Ham fan but we don’t generally hold that against him. With a great sense of humour Jess is definitely going to enjoy her driving lessons!
NICK: I took Jess to Thorpe Bay. The roads were very busy down to it being a warm bank holiday. At the start we practiced moving off quickly as I wanted Jess to progress to roundabouts. Its important to be able to move off quickly at roundabouts if they are busy.
JESS: Today was my third driving lesson which was an hour and a half and I was absolutely shattered so when Nick told me that we would be moving onto roundabouts I was so apprehensive but knew I would have to move onto them sometime.
NICK: As I explained how the roundabout procedure worked including rules of approaching roundabouts, priorities on the roundabout and mini roundabouts Jess looked overwhelmed. I try to put her at ease telling her I would constantly talk to her and help her on the roundabouts until I feel she was ok. This seemed to calm Jess down.
JESS: I hadn’t had a lesson for a week and a bit so Nick let me drive around a bit to get used to the car again and then we stopped and told me things about the roundabout such as always give way to the right, which lane to get in and how I have to quickly move off. Roundabouts were the one thing that I was terrified of doing but I feel more comfortable going around them now even though they are still scary.
NICK: After the explanation we went to a couple of quiet roundabouts and Jess done the common error that pupils make which is looking to the right too much on approach to the roundabout.
JESS: Nick told me every step of the way and went through it bit by bit as I was doing it which reassured me. When I got to the roundabout it was quite busy and all the other cars made me panic a bit. I soon learnt that there was a lot to think about when going around a roundabout and it was really confusing but it will come to me with practice. I didn’t realise how many roundabouts there were in Southend until I drove home but Nick helped me out with every one we got too.
NICK: It is important to glance to the right but look where you are going on approach. If there is a car in front of you that has stopped at the roundabout and the pupil is looking to the right too much they could end up going into the back of the stationary car. Jess also kept looking to the right once she had proceeded onto the roundabout, this is dangerous as it will affect your lane discipline.
JESS: I need to keep an eye on my speeding because I can’t keep it level, I will either go over the speed limit or too much under it. I also need to keep an eye on my steering especially going around roundabouts because I don’t tend to steer as much as I should therefore I would probably end up in a bush or something worse.
NICK: As we came up to some traffic at a set of lights Jess came to a stop but was too close to the car in front of us. Its important that when you stop in traffic that you can see the car in fronts tyres touching the tarmac. There are 2 main reasons for this: so my nerves will not be shredded by the end of the lesson but more importantly if there is an emergency vehicle wanting to get past you will have enough room to manoeuvre.
JESS: I am carrying on the problem of looking down when changing gear as well which makes me swerve a bit but that’s because I am gripping onto the steering wheel to tight. I also need to look where I’m going when going around a roundabout because I keep looking to the right therefore I’m more likely to crash into something.
NICK: Later on in the lesson we were stopped in traffic when an ambulance wanted to pass. Jess successfully manoeuvred up the kerb to let it pass, point made and the 2nd reason is so that if the car in front rolls back we have time to sound a horn or get out of the way, apart from that fact that by holding ourselves back we don’t get the fumes pumping in the front of our car.
JESS: Overall it was a good lesson and I’m happy I finally got round a roundabout without crashing or going insane and despite the fact that I was knackered I think I achieved a lot and progressed further.
NICK: Overall it was a good lesson and Jess made good progress. Roundabouts are arguably one of the hardest subjects to nail so Jess did well.