15 August 2010

taking the driver’s seat

During the past few days, I attended the required 4 lecture classes for driving.
Preliminary Lecture. This was just an introduction on the basics of the car and driving.
Traffic Signs and Road Markings. The lecturer showed and explained to us some of the 350+ traffic signs and road markings that are used in the UAE. And we have to know all of them for the Signal Test.
Safety Precaution Training. We were taught the things we could do in emergency cases, applying first aid when required, and fire safety.
Final Lecture. The lecturer explained the features of the UAE driving licence, how to obtain one, and the things to avoid so as not to earn black points which result to having the licence confiscated or cancelled.
Everything that was explained in the lectures was in the Learn Driving handbook that was given to us, and the instructors usually remind the students these lessons during the outdoor/road classes. For those who intend to skip the lectures and just get the handbook, sorry, this can’t be done…coz every student has to get their Learning Permit stamped by the lecturer after each class.
Anyway, students can attend the lectures anytime, as long as s/he has completed them before the tests…and there are a lot: Signal Test, Parking Test, Hill Test, Garage Test, Assessment Test and Road Test. The Road Test is the final one that decides whether you deserve to have a UAE driving licence or not.

By the way...remember I mentioned in my previous post that I was going to start my driving lessons last Thursday? Well, I did...not last Thursday, but yesterday. Apparently, the lady from the driving school made a mistake (she thought my lessons were Sun-Tue-Thu, but they were Sat-Mon-Wed).
Anyway, as soon as we got in the car, my instructor (Mr. Mateen) first explained to me the basics and asked me a few questions of some of the stuff that was taught in the Preliminary Lecture. Then he drove around the back of the driving school, explaining how to maneuver and use the steering wheel, indicators, etc. After one round, it was my turn to control the car. I did the necessary checkings (doors, seat, steering wheel, seatbelt and mirrors) and went on the road. However, since the seat was still a bit low, Mateen had to borrow a pillow/cushion from his colleague for me. It was embarrassing, but it helped. As expected, since it was my first time to actually drive, the ride wasn’t perfect. In the beginning, whenever I had to turn to the left or right, I would either end up at the left lane or almost bump into a barrier, post, or the car in front of me. Luckily, the car had brakes on the passenger side so Mateen could step on it when required. After some time, he told me to take the car to an area where he taught me to do Figure 8’s so that I could practice turning left and right, at the same time teaching me the proper positioning of my hands on the steering wheel. When we returned to the road, I was still a bit shaky with my turns, but with a little improvement. Anyway, before I knew it, my first class was over and it was time to park the vehicle (of course, Mateen did that). All in all, it was fun, exciting and nerve-racking.

I’m looking forward to my next class tomorrow. In the meantime, I need to learn to be more relaxed and confident when taking the driver’s seat.

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