« 9 - Public Humiliation, And Worse | Main | An Eternity Of Buffaloes »

U3A Writing: My Forties Challenge

…The Advanced Driving test itself covers a course of approxomately 40 miles and incorporates all the different types of road. It covers town centres, dual and single carriageways, motorways and country lanes. During this time the examiner, besides giving instructions as to where to turn etc, asks questions at random about what signs or road markings one has just passed and it is important to keep your eyes peeled for as many signs as you can. You also have to watch the speedometer regularly as you have to keep within the speed limit wherever you are…

Hazel Dracup tells of facing up to a stern driving challenge.

Back in 1988, looking round a local exhibition, I came across a stall manned by the local Institute of Advanced Motorists. Picking up and reading the leaflets and responding to my husband saying “why don’t you give it a try”, I signed on for a course of lessons leading to the test itself.

Recalling my first driving lessons and the four tests I took before passing some twenty years ago, and wondering what on earth I was letting myself in for. I told myself this was a challenge for me, (having turned 40 the year before) to prove that I could achieve this and that life really does begin then.

I was then paired with an observer, who looks at my driving and points out any “bad driving habits” I had developed (we all have them don’t we?) One of these was when I changed gears. I went from 1 to 2 to 3 to four and vice versa in that order and being told that most of the time it was a lot easier and better for the gearbox to go straight from 2 to 4 and 4 to 2.

Each week I was observed doing the various disciplines involved in the test, which included reversing, three-point turns and emergency stops as in the original test.

After a few weeks of this I sent off my application for the test itself and was told to meet the examiner (who was a retired advanced police driver) in the car park of a large DIY store on the outskirts of town. He then introduced himself and said he was looking for a safe, smooth ride. He went on to say that if I broke the law in any way then the test would be terminated there and then.

The Advanced Driving test itself covers a course of approxomately 40 miles and incorporates all the different types of road. It covers town centres, dual and single carriageways, motorways and country lanes. During this time the examiner, besides giving instructions as to where to turn etc, asks questions at random about what signs or road markings one has just passed and it is important to keep your eyes peeled for as many signs as you can. You also have to watch the speedometer regularly as you have to keep within the speed limit wherever you are.

We then set off and got the reverse, three-point turn out of the way, then started the long drive round the test course and having to take note of all the signs I could certainly kept me occupied, as well as watching where other drivers were going.

Having come off the motorway and going through the country lanes nearby I noticed a bus winding its way up to the top of the hill. The examiner then said “is this road on a bus route?” My mind went blank “I don’t know” I blurted, then suddenly noticed a bus stop as I drove past it. “Yes” I said, “there is the bus stop and there is the bus going up the hill” Phew!!

After a while the examiner told me to make my way back to the car park from where I started the test, he said he would not be asking me any more questions. On reaching our destination there was a short silence whilst he looked at his notes on his clipboard.

How did I feel I had done, I hadn’t a clue, at least the test hadn’t been terminated so I must have done ok on that count. The hardest part for me was keeping the car at 30 mph for long stretches when all the other cars were overtaking me I was going too slow for them, seems I was the only one driving legally!

Still silent, the examiner appeared to be concentrating on his notes, the butterflies were still flapping about in my stomach, just like they did 20 years ago! Then all of a sudden he smiled and said that I had passed and that I would be recommended for membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. “Yippee!” I said to myself, I can pass something first time at 40+

Has that changed my driving? I have always considered myself a careful and considerate driver. I enjoy driving on the country lanes but hate traffic if I am honest. I tend to drive most when I am alone and do the navigating when my husband is driving. Each year I renew my membership “undertaking to uphold the reputation of the IAM through my conduct and driving at all times”. This sets the standards for me and reminds me what driving should be all about.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.