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Learning the roads - my driving journey so far

Joe Butler profile

Joe Butler

September 6, 2018

Learning to drive Young driver stories 5 min read

My theory test is a matter of days away. People say that passing it is the first milestone towards being a professional driver- but I feel like I’ve done so much and come so far and achieved a lot on my driving journey already. Surely, all these milestones that we learners have to overcome before we can even hold a licence must be celebrated. So, here’s my little celebration of all the milestones I have overcome so far on my way to a life behind the wheel.

The first step of a thousand mile journey

I didn’t really notice that I had a seventeenth birthday; I was too busy trying to book an instructor. Around me, everyone had already started learning how to drive, and I was clawing for my opportunity to hit the road. Luckily, my instructor came highly recommended by my sister, who came highly recommended to her by a friend etc. so I knew immediately which instructor I was going to put in jeopardy when asking them to teach me.

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Those first few driving lessons are like stepping into a completely alien world- right? Nothing makes sense, there are a dozen things in that car that you did not even know existed but are very important, there are handles and levers and buttons everywhere. I had spent my whole life as a passenger, yet the first time sitting in the driver’s seat felt as though I had stepped onto the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. The whole driving process seems utterly ridiculous: why am I pushing this down now, I just lifted it up? Why make pedals that you can’t even push down properly without being launched out the windshield? What even are gears- why do they exist?

As I silently decided that I would be buying an automatic car ASAP, my lessons continued, I did hit some (literal) bumps, but I suddenly found that it was all making sense. They all say that driving a car is like riding a bike – which it isn’t in the slightest- but it turns out that just like taking the stabilisers off, there is a surreal knack that unexpectedly strikes. It all suddenly makes sense; independence begins to prosper. However, if I did not have my instructor as my guardian angel, there would be many dented rear bumpers.

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Hitting the books

You may be able to drive down the dual carriageway, you may be able to glide around the world’s biggest roundabout – but none of that matters if you do not know your theory. Pass the theory, and then you can pass the practical. Some learners, like myself, still need plenty more driving practice at the time of their theory test, whilst may be perfect on the road, but are unable to become a theory wizard. My bookish brain just loves sliding through the Highway Code, but for those who are not academically minded (I hide in the library as sports scares me), the theory can be a hellish barricade on the way to getting that licence.

Am I a theory wizard? That remains to be seen, but I am like a ninja chopping my way through my practice tests. At this stage, merely days away from the real thing, I’ve done enough practices that I can answer the question without even really reading it. It is a level of familiarity that I think a restraining order might be necessary against. I am not even reading all four options anymore; I instinctively know which one to press.  That said, I know that during the real test, I will be reading those questions one word at a time, making sure I have read everything six times over before I answer. Too careful is not careful enough if I am to succeed this massive milestone.

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The final hurdle

Once the theory has been passed (oh please let it be soon!), then I shall be triumphantly entering the final phase of this journey. Admittedly, I still have a long way to go until I can drive passably. Within my lessons, there are still some manoeuvres to conquer, even if I have become a master at parallel parking – if I do say so myself.

Practice, practice, and practice some more. I can now see the finish line, I can envisage myself getting that pass and driving off into the sunset. Looking back at the months of my lessons, I am proud of how far I have come. I may not be able to drive yet but I am astronomically better than I once was. The last pieces of the jigsaw are now falling into place, and the picture is slowly being revealed. It’s a shame that the photo is the glare oh my licence photo – I cannot wait for that to be changed!

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Joe Butler profile

By Joe Butler

'When I pass, I cannot wait to get my own car and get onto the roads! Learning to drive has been a whirlwind experience of ups and downs, but I have grown to love being behind the wheel. The feeling of being able to go wherever I want is thrilling and I am counting down the minutes until I pass.'  See more posts by Joe

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