Why can't I drive?!
October 29, 2012 11:32 AM Subscribe
Having real difficulty learning to drive. Give up altogether, start again in an automatic, or can you think of anything that would help me to improve?
posted by raspberry-ripple to Travel & Transportation (32 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've had about 46 hours of driving lessons and I honestly feel as though I'm not making any progress. I can sort of do the manoevres, eventually, but the actual driving part is a mess. I will try and explain why:
1. I strongly suspect I may be dyspraxic. I've always been extremely clumsy and can't do anything that requires bodily co-ordination. I am uniformly awful at all sports.
2. I have difficulties with left and right. It's very hard to explain; sometimes I'll say left and mean right; other times, when reversing for example, instead of just steering in the direction I want the back of the car to go, I imagine I'm facing backwards and then try to work out which direction that would mean steering in, which is obviously wrong.
3. I can't really focus on more than one thing at once. At a junction or roundabout I will be so busy trying not to stall the car that I can't possibly look at what the lights or the other cars are doing. I feel like I should have got past this by now. There is the related problem of not being able to process the various rules of the road while driving because I'm a) too distracted by the actual driving and b) too stressed to think calmly - I've passed my theory test, and if you ask me when I'm calm and relaxed what lane I need to be in if I want to turn left or whatever it's obvious, but if you ask me when I'm actually in the car I won't have a clue.
4. I'm very bad at judging physical spaces (I suspect this may be another feature of my dyspraxia). I'm not at all confident about whether a gap in the traffic is sufficient for me to go, and I have not really developed much of a sense of how much space the car takes up so I can never confidently work out how close another car is to the left or right.
5. There are a whole bunch of psychological blocks largely to do with confidence, such as:
a) if I mess up one thing early on in the lesson I go into a total flap and then can't get anything else right for the rest of the lesson;
b) I have a lot of guilt about being on the road in the first place when I'm so rubbish (if I'm doing a manoevre and another car comes along I'll just mess it up because my impulse is just to get the hell out of that person's way as fast as possible);
c) at no point do I ever feel relaxed, safe or in control (sometimes I have to actually remind myself to breathe), and obviously this massively impacts my ability to make decisions;
d) I've now got it into my head that I can't do it, so of course I can't;
e) it just seems like too high-risk an activity for me to be doing badly;
f) normally if I don't get the hang of something straight away I just chuck it in.
Worst of all is the insurmountable hurdle that I will never get confident without practice but I can't practise because I'm not confident. It would be massively helpful to practise in my husband's car, for example, but I've stalled in it so many times that I'm now paranoid about it, plus I'm terrified of driving a car that someone else doesn't have control of.
So my question is threefold:
1. Are there real and significant disadvantages to starting again in an automatic? And if I did, how many of the above problems would it solve? It seems to me that though I would still have issues with judging space etc, I would at least lose my paranoia of stalling, and some of the cognitive capacity that gets taken up by gears would be free to focus on other traffic etc.
2. If that isn't a good idea (and I am in the UK, where automatics aren't that common), can you think of anything else that would help me?
3. In the worst case scenario, do some people really never, ever get it? And when will I know if I am one of them?
(This is all somewhat complicated by the fact that I don't really have any objective measure of how badly I'm doing. I will tend to err on the side of pessimism when judging my own progress at anything, but then I do feel like I am having significantly more problems with driving than other people seem to. It's no good asking my instructor because obviously the more lessons I have to have, the more he gets paid, so it's kind of in his interests for me to keep plugging away with it even if a sensible person would have given up by now; if he'd just said in the first few lessons "look, you're unlikely ever to get the hang of this", I would have saved an awful lot of money.)
Any advice would be useful - everybody else just tells me "oh, it'll click eventually!", and no clicking has so far been forthcoming! Many thanks in advance for anything you can think of.