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We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

New drivers ask the darnedest questions

August 8, 2016

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, August 5th 2016

Questions from new drivers can range from the goofy to the informative, but columnist Steve Wallace writes they are often equally entertaining. SETH PERLMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Practical driving courses usually include a student-directed session: The instructor asks if the student would like to practise a particular skill or head to a specific geographic area.

Many request additional practice parallel parking or passing on the highway.
Here are some less common and odd requests I have received over the past decade or so.
Some students have never gone to a gas station and put fuel in a vehicle, which can be intimidating for some new drivers.
They are afraid of looking clueless at the pump. What kind of fuel should they buy? What octane is appropriate? How do you open the gas cap?

More than a few have no idea on which side of the pumps to park. How does one pay for it? There are all sorts of questions.
Some students ask to go to a drive-through fast-food outlet.

They are deathly afraid of being too far from the window and do not want to look ridiculous getting out of the car to pay and collect their food.
After all, it is a rather confined space for a novice driver. They should actually be more concerned about being much too close to the building and other hazards.

Another confined space is the multi-level parkade. Going up several levels is not so difficult, but what goes up must come down.
Pushing the ticket-machine button at the entrance to get a time-dated parking receipt is another new experience for some, as is paying for parking before exiting.

Getting lost is a common problem for many new drivers. Novice drivers are sometimes unable to find their way home from relatively easily identifiable locations.
They ask the instructor to get them totally lost and then try to find their way home.

There are techniques that can be used to get home efficiently. The position of the sun is a good hint for location identification.

Looking at high buildings and other landmarks is another way to get your bearings. Getting lost remains one of the most feared situations for new drivers.

Some new drivers are interested in going through an automatic car wash. It’s another dicey situation, as rookies will often forget to fully close the windows.

It becomes obvious that something is wrong in short order.
New drivers both young and old make all sorts of goofy suggestions.
One new driver who was about 50 had delayed learning to drive until it became a necessity.

Once this driver was ready for the test, there was only one thing left to learn: how to get to the casino and home again.

A teen girl wanted to go to her boyfriend’s house. You guessed it: the boyfriend whom mom did not know existed.

Bridges and tunnels are areas where new drivers often feel nervous, as are fatal crash locations and dangerous intersections.

Ferry travel with a vehicle is scary. Figuring out where to park at the hospital, hockey game, concert and many other types of large gatherings are also worrying for new drivers.

New drivers are inquisitive and keen to expand their horizons.
Listening to them and their suggested locations and activities is not only necessary, it’s educational and sometimes entertaining.

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