Planning the Spontaneous

It's more than just a blueprint.

To Barnstaple And Back

Posted by Robert Chow on 07/12/2009

So I’ve just had driving lesson #7, and we drove to Barnstaple and back.  In the rain.  It was a bit better than last week’s episode – I wasn’t so rusty this time due to not having spent the last 2 weeks in Manchester.

Just need more experience and practise – I guess that can only come with more lessons.

At the end I made a passing comment, “Slowly getting there.”  That’s all it was, a passing comment, but then my instructor seemed to take it a little less lightly than intended.

Bless him, he’s a nice guy, but he sure can talk. Gave me a 10 minute, what he calls, sermon on how people shouldn’t punish themselves for not making the progress they think they ought to.

He was teaching this one lad, who kept beating himself up, despite having only had 15 hours of lessons, and thinking he was assessment standard by then.  My instructor then went on to calculate how many hours of driving experience he reckons he’s had – and at that point (bearing in mind it was 12 years ago), it was ~28000 hours.  That’s a lot.  And a lot more now.

But what also fascinated me was his story about driving with a traffic cop.  My instructor always tells me to check what’s around, and more importantly ahead.  So this includes road signs, parked cars, bus stops.  The usual.  What got him however, was what the traffic cop noticed.

A cyclist for example – normal thing a driver should look out for. Traffic cop notices something else too – the wind direction. This is important should a gust of wind blows the cyclist into the path of the car. Not good.

Another example. Birds circling above a field. So. Who cares? Traffic cop spots trouble again.  Apparently, that means that there is a tractor below and the birds want their food.  The main potential problem to notice are plants – whether they’ve fallen on the road, over-growing bushes, etc. Another is tractor traffic.  And lo and behold, a tractor pulls out nearby.

They say the average driver takes around 45 hours contact time with an instructor before they pass.  I’ve a long way to go, and I’m more than happy to take those hours on.

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