Two years of driving

28 02 2010

Who couldn't enjoy a road like this?

On 22 February 2008, I was sat in the driver’s seat of my driving instructor’s olive green Seat Ibiza. As I sat looking out of the windscreen at the delightful rainy, windy, grey and cold Heysham weather, an Irish bloke in a big yellow florescent jacket was running a pen up and done a sheet on a clipboard, writing a number here, adding a comment there. Then he said (with a Northern Irish accent): “Payder, oim playsed to tell yoy yoy’ve paaased.”

That remark came at the end of my driving test (first attempt). Unlike many people, I actually quite enjoyed my driving test. Unfortunately I got four minors too many (ie four minors in total), but hey ho, at least I passed. Two were for undue hesitation, one was for observation during a ‘turn in the road’ (a three-point turn to post people), and the other I can’t remember.

Mr Irish Bloke told me that the next two years were important. If I got six points on my licence, then my six-point-weighted licence would fall out of my wallet, and into the hands of the magistrates court, and I’d have to one day retake my test.

Two years later, I have no points (touch wood) – I’ve made it! I have my licence for the foreseeable future. Unless I get 12 points, in which case I’ve done something wrong, and the magistrates will happily store my licence in a drawer somewhere (probably in their study at home).

Did you crash?

No. In my first two years I didn’t crash, or have a ‘near-miss’ (long may it hopefully continue). According to statistics, all young drivers, in particular young males, are supposed to crash. Much like many young drivers, two years into my driving life I haven’t crashed and I haven’t got any points.

I have had a bit more extra driving education since Mr Irish Bloke told me: “yoy’ve paaased”. I did Pass Plus, which involved two three-hour lessons – a journey to the Lake District and a journey to the Trafford Centre. It was good fun (although my buttocks were seriously numb, and I also learnt about ‘ball-ache’), but I didn’t learn much.

Extra-curricular activities

As a present for when I reached the 18, I went to Croft (albeit a couple of months after my birthday). Yes, because I was 18, and had a licence, I was able to drive a Porsche Cayman round a track with an instructor by my side. I then went out on my own in a Formula Renault. With hindsight, I was incredibly slow, but bloody hell it was fun.

Fast forward to June 2009 and (with thanks to CAR Magazine [who gave me incredibly beneficial work experience] and Honda [my first journalistic treat]) I’m spinning round and round in a Honda Insight and a Honda Jazz on a skid pan. Half an hour later, I’m sat in a Honda Legend with my eyes closed and hands off the wheel waiting to hear a beep that was signalling that I am about to hit something metallic.

But then came the really fun bit – a few laps round Rockingham in a Honda Civic Type-R and a Honda S2000. I’d read plenty about the sounds of the high-revving 2-litre VTEC unit, but goodness gracious me, accelerating out of ‘Tarzan’ in the S2000 in second gear, seeing the red line light up, and hearing a 9000rpm howl made my day. I also dabbled with heel-and-toe, with mixed success. Sometimes it worked, other times…well, smoothness was the aim, but it wasn’t exactly achieved. Oh, and I was really slow in the S2000 (first time on my own in a rear wheel drive car, and on work experience…I wasn’t willing to get near any limits).

From hooning to honing

Three weeks later, hurtling along at 100mph before plunging on the brake down to 30mph was a distant dream. I was back on the public highway, this time under the critical gaze of one of my local IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) group’s observers. My first ‘observed drive’ was terrible. I hated it. My driving was criticised – nobody likes being criticised. But after I’d learnt to accept and use that criticism, it became a lot more fun. Then in September 2009 I passed my test.

While the IAM test isn’t guaranteed to equip drivers with God-like driving abilities, if everyone took the advanced driving test the standard of driving on Britain’s roads would be far higher, and people would be a lot safer.

Discount please

So, after two years of exploring a few thousand miles of the UK’s highways, experiencing 11 cars and taking an advanced driving test, I can assure you that many young drivers are not boy (or girl) racers who are intent on creating holes in hedgerows while listening to apocalyptic /techno/grime/club music. Some of us actually enjoy driving. So bearing that in mind, will you thieving insurance companies please give me a discount?

Note to reader: Peter is now probably sat in a Renault Clio, taking a nap on the driver’s airbag after discovering the brutality of Lancashire’s hedges.

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One response

10 12 2016
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Hi there, after reading this amazing article i am also happy to
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