Learning, Teaching, Driving – Chronicles of Alex [Hours 00-02]

Alex is learning how to drive! Join her as she navigates through the process.

The goal: To get the “N” before the end of January, 2016.

Goal for driving experience: 3 times per week of practice to a total of at least 60 hours

Date: Sunday, October 04, 2015 2:00 PM-4:00 PM

Learn/Practice: Basic Stuff

Experience: 2 hours

Total experience: 2 hours

Total experience before the lesson: 0 hours recent (0-3 hours many moons ago)

Location: North Burnaby / Burnaby Heights

Weather Report: Clear, blue sky, Warm, Dry

Learn English Via Listening | Begin...
Learn English Via Listening | Beginner Level | Lesson 18 | Learning How to Drive


Wow! Nicely done!! For someone who has driven for 1 hour in their life, you are doing Amazing!! 

What Alex Says:

Hours 0-2, Oct. 4

Firstly, it was such a beautiful area. Especially going down a steep hill with mountains greeting you in front.

We started from scratch and went around a quiet neighbourhood.  There was some post-construction around, so it was like a built-in obstacle course with a cone, a rock, and protruding potholes.

Anyways, today I learned:

  • How to start the car

  • How to go straight through an intersection with no stop sign

    • *you don’t need to slow down if the intersection is clear

  • How to turn

    • *go out a bit (⅓ of the intersection for left turns, a lot less for right,) turn the wheel about 270 degrees, hold the wheel in that position until you’re facing where you wanna go, then shuffle it back

    • *look far ahead to where you wanna go

    • *check your mirror(s) once you’ve finished turning

  • How to stop and go straight through at stop signs, as well as the different types of stops/intersections and the rules to follow at them.

    • *at a two-way stop, once you’ve stopped and scanned the intersection, creep the car forward if visibility isn’t good, scanning the intersection again

    • *make a full stop; don’t stop too gradually. make it clear that you’ve stopped, especially at four-way stops so that other drivers don’t get confused 

  • How to go straight through a roundabout

  • Blind spots

  • How to back up in a straight line

    • *keeping your left hand on top of the steering wheel will prevent the car from going to the left/right (look over your right shoulder while backing)

I felt like other drivers have different personalities, some are calm but others… not. Driving is pretty dangerous, so the best advice I’ve gotten is to drive defensively.

I’m excited to drive on more hills because it feels like a mini-rollercoaster to me.

Some things that surprised me were:

  • Turns are one of the hardest things to learn. I have yet to be able to shoulder-check confidently whilst turning.

  • Habits are easier to pick up that you’d think! At first I wasn’t shuffling my hands whilst turning, which apparently is unsafe due to airbags [How to hold – and hot hold – the steering wheel.] but I tried to remind myself to do so.

  • How much of a blind spot (blind zone) there is in front of the car

  • How far ahead you have to look

One thing that was hard was staying in the middle of the road when driving down a narrow street with parked cars on both sides. I need to work on my vehicle location perception because I fear slamming a window.

Also I had a few questions for next time:

At a four way stop, if you and a car across from you stop at the intersection at the same time, and you are turning opposite ways (eg. you are turning right, and they are turning left,) can you both go at the same time? Or was there something about how vehicles turning right go first?

Also, what do you do if you and that same car are both turning left?

Answers to be continued next time… 

Blind zone in front of vehicle (looks are deceiving)

You see this:


The space between the vehicles is this:


Instructor’s Notes

  • Hand position on the wheel looks a bit low: 8 and 4: Try to readjust to 9:00 and 3:00
  • Teach Hills, how to start on them without rolling back, How to creep the car forward on a steep hill when you have a stop sign with a Porsche behind and it’s raining 
  • More 2-way stops with traffic & right of way 
  • Need more 2-way w/stop sign w/creeping forward @ stop sign R turn
  • 4-way stops: with turns, with traffic & right-of-way 
  • Are you remembering to talk about the reasons for doing things, 
  • Right of way not really taught (process) 
  • Approach to vehicle not taught 
  • Not to trust other cars’ turn signal not discussed 
  • We had some hidden stop signs (vision blocked by large parked vehicle or trees – Try to get student to look for the back of the other stop sign for the oncoming traffic. This means you likely have one as well. 
  • Location so important. Not too difficult, not too much traffic. Consistent level of difficulty and large enough
  • Vehicle positioning when waiting to turn right for pedestrians (no stop sign) and turning left (no stop sign for us) not taught
  • Someone riding a bike is supposed to stop at stop signs as well, but always yield to pedestrians (as long as it is safe to stop, we do not have to slam on the brakes if it means getting rear-ended) 
  • Sharing the road with other cars when you driving on narrow roads like that (who should pull over, how much, do you signal, car behind you)
  • Can’t teach everything in one lesson 
  • What should you see in the mirrors 
  • How to pull over not really addressed i.e. to pull over close to the curb but without hitting the curb, to get the vehicle straight not taught/practiced  
  • Pulling in out/ Mirror/Signal/Shoulder Check 
  • Pics of mirrors
  • How to brake/stop smoothly 
  • Pics of front blind zone 
  • I don’t want to teach that hand-over-hand is “bad” as it is still good to know for parking, and when doing a U-turn or 2 or 3-point turn, perhaps traffic circles, as it is a faster/easier way of steering in those cases; and it is not illegal.  
  • We saw squirrels and birds but didn’t really discuss what to do about them when driving : We can not always stop for squirrels and risk getting rear-ended. We have options, like honking at them, and always being aware of what’s behind you (if anything), as it does matter.  Maybe we’re driving too slowly. The faster you drive, the faster the squirrel runs away. 
  • Note to self: Wash your car, At least the windows, before making videos via dash cam or Go Pro

Most important focus today:

“Look where you want to go.” 

What to see in mirrors:





Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in North Vancouver, Canada and is an experienced writer, blogger, photographer, artist, philosopher, certified day dreamer and generally complicated human.

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