Teen talk: “Finally, my time to drive is here!”

DriversEd.com Contributing Writer Alexis David has kept an ongoing diary for us as she takes our California online drivers ed course. Here’s her fifth entry.

minicooperBeing a passenger was a routine thing that I took for granted. As a passenger, I could sleep in the car, eat, listen to music without being distracted and admire the passing scenery. I wasn’t concerned of anything as my parents or any other driver drove, but I did know that one day, I’d have to learn all the driving techniques and laws and become responsible enough to be adequate of driving a vehicle. And although I love the luxury of sitting back and relaxing in the car, I was ecstatic to get behind the wheel.

It was finally the moment that I’ve always anticipated as I grew up: driving a car. Despite the fact that excitement was coursing through me when I found out when my first driving lesson was, I was insanely nervous. All of the questions and jitters making me overestimate the experience was annoying. Questions and concerns like, “What if I crash the car during the first time?” or “I hope it won’t be awkward when I mess up and I hope it’s not too quiet.” The more I thought, the more agitated I became, so I stopped thinking about it until the day came.

Hands-on training
When it was finally the day, I had that eager-yet-hesitant feeling again. I met my driving instructor and we were off to the MINI Cooper. He drove me to an empty parking lot around my neighborhood, and we switched spots. I was in the driver’s seat while my instructor was in the passenger seat. He asked me some simple questions about where certain tools on the dashboard are, the hand signals for turns and stops, he gave me a quick hearing test, he tested my sight, and I was off. My instructor explained and showed me how to start the car, and that I was ready to begin driving at any time. He instructed me to start at my own pace, and that we’d first practice left turns. All I thought was, “We’re already starting?” but I swallowed that nervous gut feeling, and lightly stepped on the gas pedal. The car lightly lurched forward, and I was driving. I was moving the car! By myself! I slowly turned the wheel and made my turn. It was moderately bizarre, like learning how to ride a bike the first time, but the bike being much bigger, harder to move, and with more controls. I then did right turns, and after that I practiced both left and right turns while using the signal lights. I circled the parking lot until I was comfortable with what I was doing. That is, until my instructor told me to drive out of the lot. There was that nervous gut feeling again. He told me to drive through a neighborhood, and there, I encountered road bumps, turns, blind spots, pedestrians, unmarked and unmarked crosswalks. I had to remain observant of my surroundings. And like the turns, I got the hang of it. I got used to what to do when I confronted a new obstacle, and learned more about the neighborhoods I live near. Before I knew it, my lesson was over. Even with simply stepping on the pedal and turning, I felt incredibly accomplished after it was all over.

The best part of the driving was my instructor. He made it fun and he talked to me, giving me the chance to learn how to focus on the road and to the conversation I was a part of. I got to ask countless questions because he knew I was learning. That’s what I always loved about drivers ed, their support makes it incredibly easy and fun to understand.

Practice makes perfect
I loved the feeling of driving a car so much that I wanted to practice again with my dad. Nevertheless, I still had to get my permit to continue practicing. I took a vast amount of practice tests online on drivers ed, trying to improve the grade of my previous test every time. When I was ready, I was prepared to take the test.

After much waiting, I was able to take my permit test, and I passed! I was extremely relieved. I got about three questions wrong, but enough studying was exactly what I needed to pass the test.

Both driving for the first time and taking my permit test had me nervous and wondering what the outcomes would be when really, it was not a big problem. Both are building me up to becoming an exceptional driver.

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