Rain Driving, Miscellaneous: Chronicles of Alex [Hours 5.5 -7.5]

Hours 5.5-7.5, Oct 12

This was my first time driving in the rain, so I learned how to turn on the windshield wipers and how to adjust their settings.

We went on a lot more intersections with traffic lights, and some things that surprised me were:

  • Traffic light intersections have sensors that turn on the green light for cars that they sense are waiting to cross. One way to tell whether or not a green light is stale or fresh is to see there are a lot of cars on the street perpendicular to yours waiting at a red light.

  • The best way to tell whether or not a green light is stale or fresh is by looking at the pedestrian crosswalk light that is on, if there is one. If the pedestrian light is still a walking character, the green light is fresh. If the light is counting down numbers, you should get ready because your green light may turn yellow soon.

  • There is a “point of no return” for yellow lights. If a green light turns yellow whilst you are already close to entering the intersection (depending on your speed), you might have to keep going. If you try to stop, you will only be able to stop far past the white line. You could also risk being rear-ended.

What I learned:

  • You can pull over to let cars that seem unsafe/impatient go past.

  • When it’s raining, slow down sooner for a stop.

  • Stay well behind trucks so that you can still see around them.

  • When waiting behind a car at an intersection, pull up behind them until you can  see the bottom of their tires touching the pavement.

I practiced parking closer to the curb after pulling over:

  • inch the car to the right

  • inch to the left to straighten the car out

  • repeat until you are 30 cm (about 1 foot) away from the curb.

Building on yesterday, another way to start when stopped up a hill is to:

  • after stopping normally with your right foot on the brake, shuffle your feet so your left foot replaces your right one on the brake

  • whilst keeping your left foot pressing on the brake, press the gas pedal a bit with your right foot

  • whilst holding onto the gas with your right foot, let go of the brake

  • this technique is safer than simply switching your right foot from the brake to the gas when it’s raining. When your car begins rolling backwards, if you press on the gas too much, your tires might spin quickly, But if you forget and your tires do start to spin, just ease off the gas.

We also talked more about shoulder checking:

  • If the road is wide and you want to turn right, shoulder-check before moving your car towards the right side of the road.

    • If you don’t have a stop sign, scan the intersection and turn right.

    • If you do have a stop sign, you will have to do a second shoulder-check just before turning because hazards may appear while you are stopped and checking elsewhere.

I have some trouble with shoulder-checks because I look out the back window, but I don’t think about what I’m seeing there. I’m just going through the motion but not being aware of what I’m looking at. So I will try to work on that next time.

I also need to work on ignoring people who are honking impatiently.

We looked at some of the buttons and lights on the car, such as the various types of air conditioning and the symbols that may appear whilst you’re driving telling you that there’s something wrong with the battery or engine. I also learned about the uses of the different gear shifts.

Before getting into your car, you should do a pre-trip check:

  • Walk around the car to check that the tires aren’t flat and that there are no hazards in the blind spots immediately in front of and behind your car.

  • You should start at the driver’s side back tires and walk around counter-clockwise until you finish at the front of the car (if the car is parked on the right side of a street)

  • Then make eye contact with any vehicles that may be approaching from behind your car so that they know you want to open your door and get inside your car. You may have to wait if there isn’t room to open the door.

I also did a U-turn in a misty area which made it feel like it was Halloween already.

We discussed traffic circles, too:

  • Enter a traffic circle from the right, even if you’re turning left. Some large trucks may turn directly left because they can’t fit in the traffic circle.

  • If you are turning left but there’s a traffic circle in your way, signal left but enter from the right.

Some things I tried to keep in mind were:

  • Watch for signs, like a playground one which is in effect from dawn till dusk. The schoolzone signs are only in effect during schooldays, 8am-5pm.

  • Look far ahead. I had trouble doing so when going fast, but using your peripheral vision to scan the area closer to you helps.

  • Check your rearview mirror often (every 5-10 seconds.)

  • Slow down before speed bumps.

Wow I guess we did a lot today. As terrified as I am of the dangers of driving, as things get a bit easier, driving does get fun!

Instructor’s notes: I’m a bit speechless today. I think this is going very well.  


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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