I have said to myself that the day I remove “L” from the car, I will share some driving tips free of charge. Though, it’s been almost a month now but better late than….
When you want to start learning, people will tell you driving is very easy especially if its an automatic! You will see someone who has never driven before tell you: “shebi it is automatic, it is very simple. Our last born did not even learn it, he just started driving when he was 7½ years old!” Those who can drive already will tell you: “there is nothing in driving, it’s just about “aya nini”-having chest (i.e confidence).
If you allow those statements to get into you, the day you begin to learn, you would feel like becoming an expert so that you can tell people that you started driving from the dream. And when it seems you are not getting it, you will start feeling like a dullard.
You see that 7½ years old may be able to move a car, it is quite different from driving. And that thing they call chest (confidence) can only come the more you stay behind those steering wheel. Talking about being good at driving, time & practice is needed. I am talking about up to 6 months here. So, don’t pursue becoming an Henry Ford the same day you started.
That being said, with a regular practice, if it’s an automatic car, one week, too much. I taught my wife to drive in less than 7 days. You can spread your 7days into 2weeks or more depending on your schedule.
Get someone to teach you. Follow their instructions even if you don’t understand it. Don’t be self-confident.
Day One– go to the field, don’t go to the road. All you want to learn is to get familiar with the major driving car components- brake, throttle and most especially your steering wheel. You will also get introduced to other parts.
Day Two– warm up on the field then get to the road. Untarred road within the street are good picks here. Don’t go to major roads with human beings, parked vehicles and drainage. What you will learn to use the most that day is your BRAKE. You will start familiarising with your throttle as well. Make as many rounds as possible.
Day Three– do more rounds on the street then let your instructor take you to a tarred road but still a less busy road. This is just to spy the road. This time, you will see human beings and drainage on both side of the road. You may not do more than one round that day.
Day Four– It is time to learn your throttle. Warm up on the street then go to the tarred road you spied yesterday. Make several roads and go a long distance (within the same route).
Your instructor will tell you to keep the right side of the road and avoid getting into the middle. But you will be afraid of entering into the ditch (gutter) that’s on the right side. This fear is real! But here is the cheat code. You don’t have to stick to the right-most part of the road. Use your mind to divide the road into two and move a bit to your right- you will be okay!
Again, use your mind to cut the road into two- half for you and half for the oncoming vehicle. But you won’t be too accurate, so add a little space to your right and keep driving.
Bear in mind that the road is not always straight so, you will keep using the trick. Also, on a typical Nigeria road, you will vehicle parked on the road side, people walking and even stalls. All you have to do is to divide the road again into two, take your own half. If there is more space to your side then move a bit to your right. If the road has become very thin for two vehicles at a time, just take your own half and leave the coming vehicle to take care of itself.
Your aim on the road this 3rd day is not to DRIVE, it is just to MOVE the car and get more familiar with various components most especially the fearful throttle that will make the vehicle seems as if it’s jumping and also the brake and the pin-pin. Be ready to blast many ON. You will also start building chest (confidence) on this day.
Day Four- drive up to the same route with you instructor. Using the same environment helps. Did I tell you to put up your ” L” and emergency light all through? Please do. You must have been learning some reverses and turning too.
Reverse they say is difficult but my two students learn it the first day. You will be told to ask yourself which side you want to go then turn your steering to the opposite direction but let me show you a simpler way. Ask yourself what direction you want the bottom ⤵️ of your vehicle to go to, then turn that way. Always take all the time you have to think while reversing. You will make mistakes, correct yourself and move on.
You may enjoy driving the 3rd day but this 4th day will be a bit frustrating. Reason is that, on day 3, you were driving at a very low rate but today, you have added some speed. With speed comes higher expertise. Meanwhile, always bring the vehicle to the speed you can handle. Don’t be in a hurry to run. You will run all you want after you are good.
If I were your instructor, I will like to introduce you to the express road before we close on day four. Just to spy.
Day 5– welcome to day 5. Warm up on your tarred route then drive up to a two-way express road with barricade at the middle. This is a type of road where all oncoming vehicle take one side, while the going vehicles take another side. And there is a barricade in-between. Look for the one with barricade in-between.
Your instructor may tell you to keep the slow lane which is the right hand side but I got an instructor who told me to keep the fast lane. Reason is, driving on slow lane in Nigeria especially in Ibadan can be frustrating. Micra, Maruwa & Okada (commercial drivers) will show you shege. They will just be parking anyhow. But if you are in the fast lane, anyone who doesn’t like your speed can easily bypass.
On this day, you will be learning some speed. The safest is 20-40KM/hr. You will also appreciate the purpose of side and rear mirror. Driving on the express the first time is always interesting especially with less pot holes. It will give you the confidence which you need and you will find yourself driving better on single lane tarred routes.
Day 6- do some rounds on the two-way express then go to the express road that has no barricades in the middle. This time, keep the middle or slow lane. You will appreciate your mirror more. You should also drive through other major and minor routes that day with your instructor.
Day 7– drive the car to Church. All along, observe other people drive especially when you’re seated with them.
Now, you are a driver. What you need is more practice. What I did was to drive around the city for another one week with an instructor or just someone who didn’t even know how to drive but would be communicating road signs and routes with you. An instructor would be more beneficial because they will give you tips as you drive.
Some things I said especially on the roads to learn may be a traffic offence in some cities and countries. Where it is against the law and such law is enforced, apply with discretion.
Above all, I hope you found it helpful. 7 days is not too long to learn a skill you will need for the rest of your 70years and more. So, don’t be in a hurry and be safe. If you don’t yet have a car, keep this post by yourself. Don’t come and be asking me: “where is that post you wrote in September, 2022”.