Christmas is just around the corner and everyone knows that means one thing: presents. I’m joking of course; while presents are a big thing at Christmas, they’re not the only thing. For young drivers like myself around the country, Christmas also offers the opportunity to get behind the wheel again. If you’re like myself and don’t have your own car, you may be looking forward to getting home and being able to drive your parents' car once more. Whether you’re at university or have a job, many young people can’t afford to buy their own car until well into their mid twenties - this means when we get home, we’ll all be itching to take a car out and enjoy that freedom it gives us. However, as everyone will know after not driving a car for a while, there is always a touch of nervousness that comes with it. Will I still be able to reverse into the drive properly? Am I going to stall at the traffic lights? What happens if I can’t manage the hill start? These are all valid questions and ones I have thought to myself on many occasions. I passed my driving test at seventeen and now at twenty-two, I still don’t have my own car. This means the only chance I get to drive is when I go home and I must admit those trips back are getting less and less frequent.
The first journey
Almost without fail, my first drive in the car every time I get back home is going to visit my grandma. I’ve unpacked, settled into family life again and my mum will poke her head around the door and say:
"Why don’t you drive up and see your grandma? I know she’d love to see you.”
Okay perfect – the first drive. Luckily my grandma only lives about five minutes away by car, but it’s still always the first trip and it still always makes me slightly nervous. Getting into the car I’ll strap myself in, readjust the mirrors to where I need them, and slowly release the handbrake. Creeping forward I make my way down the drive and pull to a stop, waiting for a gap in the stream of traffic to get out onto the road. My left leg starts to bounce up and down a little from the unnatural feeling of holding the clutch in place and – I have to admit – on more than one occasion I have stalled there and then. But then I’m out on the road, around the corner and on my way. A smile does always creep onto my face at this point. Being in control of a car is a great feeling and that’s made even better when everything about driving just comes flooding back to you. It’s like riding a bike, after all, just a much more powerful one. via GIPHY
My next obstacle is a roundabout and here’s something else I must admit: every time I approach this first roundabout after not driving for a while I think to myself ‘give way to the right, give way to the right’. It might sound slightly silly; you’d think after driving on and off for the best part of six years the way roundabouts work would be firmly engraved in my mind, but it’s always good to have that gentle reminder. Then finally, to get onto my grandma’s street there’s a sharp left turn, followed immediately by a sharp right. Again something that is very easy when you’re a regular driver, but something I always think about and make sure I do it just that little bit slower than normal for the first time. I always make it there unharmed, both myself and the car in one piece, but there’s still always that little bit of nervousness that accompanies me. I think it’s natural and in reality, it is probably a good thing as it means I make sure to drive more carefully until I feel 100% comfortable behind the wheel again. Then its inside for a cup of tea and a catch-up, before grandma stands by the front door to wave me off on my way. And if there’s one thing that will make you be extra careful when setting off, it’s a grandma watching your every move!
So I’m now looking forward to getting back to my parents' for Christmas in a couple of weeks' time, and undoubtedly making that first trip to see my grandma. It’s a strange feeling driving a car for the first time, but it’s also a happy one - and one that until I can afford to buy my own car, I’ll look forward to having every time I make a trip back home. If you're a student heading home for the holidays, then you can get student car Insurance to cover you to drive mum's or dad's car over the uni break.