This month is all about parents who are supervising their children when they learn to drive. If you follow my blogs, you’ll know that I managed to convince my Dad to teach me to drive – and I thought you might like to hear it from his side of things!
Hi! My name is Rich and according to my children, I have been driving for one hundred and seven years and my car insurance is around £3 a month. Whilst none of that is entirely true, I have been driving for quite a while. I have been riding motorbikes since I was 11 (I dabbled in schoolboy motor cross) and thanks to my Dad (who had some land and an old mini) I have been driving cars since I was 12. It was my dad who gave me my first experience of driving a car on the road when I was 17. The car was an Austin 1100 and he promised that it would be mine after I had passed my driving test.
Sadly, it blew up before I got round to taking my test and I gained the rest of my driving experience in his Ford Cortina 1600 estate.
It was the size of a narrow boat and I hated it, but thanks to my old chap, I managed to pass my driving test after only having four lessons with a driving instructor.
Now you would think that because of that, I would have jumped at the chance to supervise my daughter in some extra practice between her driving lessons. This was not the case.
Convincing me to supervise her learning
I am a notoriously bad passenger. It doesn’t matter who is driving, I hate not being in control and often find myself pressing the non-existent brake pedal. If I do have to be a passenger (this doesn’t often happen – it’s usually Dad’s Taxi service) I will always opt for to be in the back of the car! Not sure why I think it just makes me feel a little safer. Needless to say, when my daughter first mentioned the idea of buying her own car and having some extra ‘dad lessons’, my response was a definite NO.
I had tried it a few years before with her older brother and to say that the whole experience was one that I did not enjoy is a bit of an understatement. It was around the time that he was changing gear, and had the gear stick came clean off in his hand, that I swore I would never teach one of my children to drive again.
Like all children do, she wore me down over the next couple of weeks until I gave in to her constant nagging. The deal was that she would buy a second-hand car and I would try it once. If I was still a nervous wreck after trying it once, the deal was off and she would have to have a rethink. During the next couple of weeks, I did everything I could think of to discourage her from buying a second-hand car by saying stuff like ‘You may as well wait until you’ve passed your test’ and ‘You could end up buying a lot of trouble’. Needless to say, my cunning plan to wriggle out of supervising those extra lessons did not work and she brought a second-hand car at the first moment she could, whilst looking a tad like this…
Bye, Bye, Betty
Now I’m not one to brag, but it turned out I was right – a few days after buying it, it developed loads of problems and her extra driving practice amounted to a couple of times around the block at 20mph (with me still hitting the imaginary brake pedal).
I felt incredibly guilty because I had inspected and test drove the car before she bought it and gave it the all clear. There were a couple of minor issues, but with my century of driving experience, was something that seemed like a quick fix. However, after many hours under the car and bonnet – I couldn’t seem to get it fixed. ‘Betty’ was then scrapped.
Please tell me this is the end of it
After the disaster of the first car, I had hoped that Chloe would call it a day, stick with her driving lessons and buy a car once she’d passed her test. Did she do this? No. She then took an even bigger plunge and ordered a brand new car from Marmalade! I knew it would take a few weeks for it to be delivered so I spent this time trying to prepare myself for supervising those extra lessons. I also knew that she was now very serious about getting her full driving licence and as she had made a massive financial commitment, I would have to get serious too and get over my fear. After all, how hard could it be?
So how did it go?
The first couple of trips was all about me trying to calm down and relax and I am pleased to say that this did not take as long as I thought it would. She had obviously been keeping up with her driving lessons during this period and was much better at it than I thought she would be, turns out – I had been worrying for nothing. I even stopped trying to stamp on the imaginary brake pedal after a little while! Now that I was relaxed and calm, I could pass on the benefit of my many years of driving experience – but I didn’t really have to do much. She was a bit worried about roundabouts so we focused on them for a while. It was mainly what lane to be in for the exit we needed and being alert when taking the exit.
Watch your attitude, buddy
The one thing I did notice was the attitude of other drivers. It seemed that as soon as many saw learner plates on the car in front they would have to get past it at any cost, so being cut up at a
roundabout by cars being in the wrong lane just to get in front was very common. I don’t know if this sort of thing happens to driving instructors a lot, or it was just because it was a non-driving school car with L plates on, but it was something we had to deal with a lot. I would say if you are thinking of supervising a learner, be aware of this.
Expect the unexpected
My main piece of advice to Chloe was, ‘always expected the unexpected’, then if anything does happen (like those who would cut us up on a roundabout) – you are ready for it!
My only other piece of advice was to give herself a bit more time at junctions and when entering a roundabout, trying to remind her of the importance of being in the correct gear. I also had to occasionally mention that she was going a few miles an hour over the speed limit, and it wouldn’t be a wise thing to do in her test!
It turns out, my supervising and slight nagging paid off. I am very pleased to say that Chloe passed her test on her first go and helping her learn to drive was not the nightmare that I thought it would be. I am happy that I helped her on her journey to getting her full licence and would recommend to any parent. On a side note, I’m still a rubbish passenger.
Aw – Thanks a lot, Dad! I have to say, if it wasn’t for the private practice I had outside of my lessons, I don’t think I would have passed my test on the first attempt. As a learner who was eager to get behind the wheel and have the ultimate sense of independence, being able to learn to drive with my Dad is something I’ll be forever thankful for.