Welcome to Part 10 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: Again the lesson was at 16:30 which normally means we spend a lot of time in traffic. Today I wanted to move Jess onto another manoeuvre the Reverse Park, some people call it the Parallel Park.
JESS: We avoided most of the traffic today so that I can get on to do reverse park which Nick said was the easy. But typical me! I always find a way to make the easiest things complicated!
NICK: I tried to reassure Jess that this is an easy manoeuvre but after I gave her the explanation she look troubled, I find it is always best to do a demonstration of the manoeuvre after the explanation, this often helps the pupil.
JESS: We went down a reasonably busy road with a lot of parked cars which gave me the perfect opportunity to practice a reverse park. Nick went through it first and then done a practice one before I got back into the driver’s seat and tried it.
NICK: When doing a manoeuvre it is important to be aware of any vehicles or pedestrians approaching you. It is a common error for the pupil to only concentrate on their turning points. If you carry on with a manoeuvre when a vehicle is approaching you it could result in failing the test.
JESS: This lesson was useful for clutch control and road awareness! It took a few practices but I got there in the end.
NICK: Whilst Jess was practicing her manoeuvre a car approached, Jess did see this in time, she stopped the manoeuvre and assessed the situation.
JESS: On my second try in the middle of doing my reverse park someone come the other way so had to wait for me to complete the manoeuvre so I had an audience which always makes me nervous as I feel they’re watching my every move and makes me want to rush it so that I don’t keep them waiting.
NICK: As the other car was happy for Jess to continue with her manoeuvre, she carried on. This then put Jess under a bit of pressure as she had an audience. The common error for the pupil is to rush the manoever so as not to hold up traffic. It is important to keep your composure and take your time.
JESS: At the same time, as I was clearly reversing into a space, another driver pulled up behind me which threw me off a bit, as I was halfway through parking!
NICK: Some motorists are respectful to learner drivers but as Jess found out a lot are not. Whilst she was practising her manoeuvre clearly trying to reverse into a space, another driver drove up behind her and pulled into the space she was trying to reverse into. I experience this often when teaching with other drivers showing pure ignorance. They seem to have forgot that they were learners once.
JESS: I done a lot of practicing this lesson and noticed that I couldn’t quite get my speed right when reversing. So Nick made me drive to an open space to practice reversing but with a reasonable speed and just releasing the clutch until I get slight movement but making sure I don’t bring it up too much.
NICK: Jess had some trouble keeping her speed down whilst in reverse so we practiced some straight line reversing which helped.
JESS: I worked on clutch control for about five minute s and after doing that, my reversing was much better as I was slower and was in control more. I also had to keep checking with Nick which way to turn the wheel as it goes left right right left. However towards the end I was getting the hang of it and after a few more tries I should be getting used to it.
NICK: Jess experienced some trouble pulling off but we have put this down to Jess now driving her own car and each car is different with the clutch control.
JESS: One problem today was moving off, I put too much gas on and lift the clutch up to quickly where as I should just use a little bit of gas and gradually lift the clutch up. I think the gas problem is due to me driving in my own car as I have to step on the accelerator a bit more than in Nicks car to get movement.
NICK: It’s a catch 22 situation, driving your own car will help with experience on the road however it can make things difficult with clutch control.
Check out this handy infographic for help on How to Reverse Parallel Park