Know the road code, use a safe car, maintain following distance, go slow, keep left & indicate...
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Hosh had cleared the theory test to obtain his Learner’s License, and had been waiting eagerly for his school exams to finish, so his dad could teach him to drive.
That day had finally arrived, and he sat on the driver’s seat in his dad’s car with his father on the passenger seat.
“Driving a car is easy,” Rosh was saying, “if you follow some basic rules. But you can’t follow them until you know what the rules are.”
“We know that you know what the rules are, because you have already passed your Road Code Theory test.”
“That was the hard part, the part that takes a little time. But it was a vital part, cos you can’t follow the rules until you know them.”
“Rules are important. They keep you safe. And they keep others safe from you. Still, many people do not follow them. So, be alert for hazards whenever you are on the road. Safety is your first concern. Be safe.”
“As a driver, you are also responsible for the safety, well-being and behavior of your passengers, but I will not talk about that today.”
“Today is the day, when you learn to actually drive the car. That means starting it, moving it, stopping it. You will learn that in 5 minutes flat.”
“The rest is practice. To become a confident and competent driver. That will take time, but you have lots of time. Your school holidays have only just begun today.”
“Don't rush your practice. You can’t eat a month’s food in one day. So, you shouldn't try and do a month’s practice in one day either. Do a little daily, and discuss errors and improvements immediately after your practice run. That will accelerate your learning, and cement your understanding.”
“Remember, a loaded large car can weigh almost as much as an elephant (African Elephant weighs from 2200 kg upwards). Even otherwise, it can weigh over 30 times your own weight. The faster you make it run, the harder it is to make it stop quickly!”
“Which brings us to the next basic rule. Speed control. As a beginner, keep your speed very low. As low as you want. There are no minimums. You can keep it at near zero, until you feel ready to increase it.”
“The key is to feel comfortable while learning. Learning happens fastest when you are not stressed. Speed causes stress, and you don’t need more stress right now. You will increase your speed as you grow in confidence.”
“So, go slow. The left side of the road is for people going slow. So, keep to the left side of the road as much as possible. Right lanes are for faster traffic.”
“And finally, tell others on the road, what you are going to do, well before you do it. That’s the next basic rule. Communicate in a timely manner. Indicate.”
“You know how to indicate?”
“Great,” said Rosh. He proceeded to name the car-parts likely to be used today by Hosh, like the brake, accelerator, wheel, mirrors, indicators etc. and showed him how they worked one by one. He was finished in a couple of minutes.
“That’s all there is to knowing about your car, to move it from A to B. You can be a good driver, even if you don’t know anything else about your car.”
“It is not necessary to know how the carburetor works, for instance, but the more you know your car, the better you’ll look after it, and the better it will serve you.”
“Now, you are almost ready to roll. Let us run through a 5-point checklist before getting our show on the road. It is best practice that all beginners do this before moving the car, at least until they get their Restricted Driving license.”
“That checklist is: Check the 3 mirrors (1. driver side, 2. back view, 3. passenger side) to see they are all clear and show the road behind you properly. Adjust or clean them, if needed.”
“Now, point 4. Turn the right indicator on. You do this just after you start the car, but always before you move the car.”
“Point 5. Turn your head right, to see the road behind you. Now move the car only if it is safe to do so. This means you release the hand and foot brakes, only if it is safe to move onto the road from your parked position. You will need to move your right foot on the accelerator and slowly turn the wheel right to do this.”
“Are you ready?”
“Ok,” Rosh smiled. “Then tell me the 5-point checklist you’ll need to go through?”
“Great,” Rosh nodded. “And the 5 basic rules a beginner must follow?”
Hosh summarized what he had learnt, counting off the basic rules on his fingers:
1. Know the road code.
2. Drive in a safe car.
3. Run the 5-point checklist before you start.
4. Be safe. Watch hazards. Drive to conditions. Keep following distance.
5. Go slow.
6. Stay left on the road.
7. Communicate. Indicate well in time. Do what you indicated. Have the L-stickers displayed clearly on the car, so people know.
“Cool,” Rosh was pleased. “Now, let’s drive!”
Hosh turned the key in the ignition, did the 5-point checklist physically, and eased the car slowly onto the road. When the car straightened onto the road smoothly, he let out a silent sigh of relief. He hadn’t realized how stressed he had been.
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