It’s been a little over three months since I started driving regularly and I think that I’m done with this goal. Looking back at my original list of skills I wanted to improve on I still haven’t covered them all (namely parallel parking and highway driving), but obviously it’s not an overwhelming priority if I’ve gotten by without them for so long.
So at a couple of different places along my commute I’ll pass a yellow diamond sign, usually a cross street or curved road warning, with a speed listed below which was also on a yellow sign. I had no idea what these meant (no one else seems to slow down) and every time I’d see one I’d think “I should probably look that up when I get home”. Well, after a month and a half, I’ve finally remembered to do just that.
These sign warn of upcoming potential hazards and give a recommended safe speed to switch to. Most relevantly, you cannot be penalized for choosing not to follow it.
I let Older Sister drive my car a couple of weekends ago; it was sorta interesting to see how her driving style differed from mine.
For one, she pushes the car a lot further than I do before shifting. I finally dug out the car manual to see what to target shifting zone should be (14/22/34/44 mph if anyone’s interested), I shift too early and she shifts too late.
As long as I had the manual out I actually flipped through it to see if I could figure out what all the doodads on the dash were. I now have the interior car car lights set up to automatically turn on when the door is opened. Fancy.
Sadly, the passenger button does not control an ejection seat. :(
Today’s lesson… don’t try to rapidly decelerate on a gravel road.
In my first ten days of regular driving I walked away from my car and left the headlights on three times. Fortunately I realized what I’d done within fifteen minutes each time and went to turn them off. In the last fortnight I haven’t left them on once.
The amazing thing about having a really low starting point is that even a tiny step forward is heartening. :)
One of the things that I’ve found that has made me feel more in control of the car is paying more attention to (and actually following) the speed limit. When I first learned to drive I was very heavy footed. I didn’t mean to be, I simple accelerated to a point where I felt like I was matching the flow of traffic and the next thing I knew I was ten, fifteen miles over.
Coming back to driving a decade plus later I decided that I’d do it differently this time. After all, “speed limit” means “this is the fastest you should go” not “this is the average speed you should drive” or “don’t go slower than this”. And who wants to wreck my perfect (non)driving record?
So I don’t go over the limit. Yes, it’s slow. Yes, everyone will pass you. Yes, aggressive drivers will hassle you. Yes, the people who set the limits knew what they were doing. I admit, that one surprised me.
Following the limit is a bit tricky. On my commute to school the top speed changes around twenty times and keeping track of it is a pain. But shaving two or five minutes off my drive (and that’s pretty much all it would be) isn’t worth compromising my safety or the safety of others.
Today I expanded my repertoire of bad weather I’ve driven though. I woke up this morning to find a cloud lurking outside my window. The fog got worse as the day wore one.
It wasn’t as bad to drive through as I was worried about. Though I was surprised by the number of people who didn’t think to turn their lights on; they ended up being rather hard to see.
Still left to cover: heavy rainfall, high winds and iced/snowed in roads.
I pumped gas for the first time ever today. It was… pricey. Not very hard to actually do though.
Driving Lesson #47
Do not walk away from your car and assume someone else will remember where you parked it.
Especially if you’re the one who parked it. And no one else is with you. And your car doesn’t have a locater beeper. And it’s a really big parking lot.