These past two weeks have been quite productive for me in my In Depth project. I will begin lessons with my mentor on March 2nd, by which time he will have spaces available for lessons and I will be able to start working on more advanced skills and developing technique. However, in the time before then I have been and will continue to be working on my basic techniques, and actually moving the car around safely.
The first time I moved the car was on a little dead end sidestreet with no traffic around. This was where I learned about windshield wipers, headlights, and the gear shift while the car was on but not in motion. I then worked on releasing the parking brake while my foot is on the brake pedal, and then shifting the car into drive and releasing the brake. While at first I drove up the street using just the momentum of having the car in drive, I did progress to lightly using the gas pedal when in forwards and linear motion. When it came to reversing back down the dead end street, I practised turning my whole body and orienting myself so that I was clear on which way the car will move in reverse in relation to the direction that I move the wheel. As I went back up the street in drive, I practised how it feels to brake lightly in comparison to varying levels of firmness. I also worked on light swerves to orient myself in the lane and get used to the car responding to slight movements of the steering wheel.
The second time I moved the car was in the Coquitlam Centre parking lot. There were a few cars around, but they provided an opportunity for me to back up towards them to experience the difference between my perception of my space margins and the reality of my space margins. I would back up or drive forwards slowly at a parked car until it looked as if the wheels of the other vehicle were on the hood of my car. I would then step out and look at how far away I actually was, then get back in and adjust closer until I thought I had about a car length’s worth of distance between myself and the other vehicle. I also had a stop sign and line to practise on, as well as lots of space for varying degrees of turns. This lead to more realistic work with braking. Through practising the turns, I discovered that I have to pull the wheel much further than I expect in order to end up where I am aiming. This practise was mostly for the purpose of getting comfortable with the vehicle and becoming aware of the space around me.
- What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?
I found the way that my mom presented new concepts to me to be quite effective, and the way that she observed and checked in with me to ensure that I understood and was following through was great. While I was responsible for keeping us safe in the car, I knew that she was attentive and skilled enough to ensure that I was capable of doing so. My mom created a driving environment where I felt in control, safe, and competent.
- What learning challenges emerged?
There were points when I was concerned with my own ability and awareness regarding my proximity and interactions with other vehicles. Particularly, when I was asked to drive straight towards a car in front of me so that I would learn that i’m actually farther away than I think, I was quite hesitant and nervous that I didn’t have enough technical skills to get myself out of a situation where something went wrong and I had the potential to hit the car. The issue with this is what it did to my confidence, and driving with nerves is not safe. My mom was able to explain to me what was going to happen, and asked me to drive very slowly and stop to get out and look every so often so that I would be sure of myself. After I got out of a place of self-doubt, learning came much more easily.
- What did you do to hold yourselves accountable for the learning?
When I am in the car and my mom is driving, in any context, my mom has recently been sure to communicate what she is doing with me so that she can set a good example for when I next get behind the wheel. She knows that I am likely to pick up on what she does while she drives, so in that sense she takes responsibility for what I absorb from her. On my end, I am very careful that when I am unsure about what i am doing, I ask for clarification. I know that driving is a responsibility and it shouldn’t be taken lightly, so I want to ensure that every habit I develop is one that is going to put me in a good position for my future of driving.
- What logical challenges affected your communication?/What factors affected your ability to interact effectively?
It was challenging for me to interact with my mom while I was in motion, because my brain was so focused on the basics that I had to balance and remember in order to keep both of us safe that I found it difficult to listen to my mom’s adjustments and recommendations without pulling over and putting on the brake. I also found it more challenging to express to her where my comfort and stress levels were at when I was in motion for the same reasons. After talking to my mom about these concerns, we determined that communicating will become easier for me when the simple driving tasks become more habitual and less front-of-mind.