Years behind everyone else, I finally got my provisional licence (on the second attempt) at the age of 23. With one kiddo, and a growing hatred for the wonderful timekeeping of Irish public transport (I’m looking at you,215), the appeal to be independent of bus timetables and attempts to fit buggies onto cramped buses was growing rapidly. Unfortunately, so was my fear of the road.
Normal people have a healthy fear of the road; that’s what happens when you’ve been told repeatedly how dangerous cars are and reminded of the road death rate in Ireland on a regular basis. And then you get into a car accident and bam, hey there complete phobia. I’m not proud of the fact that cars coming at me – because that’s how it seems – as a passenger makes me close my eyes. Tight. This isn’t ideal, clearly. In chats with some rather lovely medical professionals, the idea of me having a case of PTSD was floated, albeit a mild one. But yes the eye closing was going to have to stop.
Three weeks ago, I decided to take the bull by the horns. Maybe it was that my 18 year old brother is going for his driving test and could now officially take the piss of my lack of grown-up-ness(says he who has yet to move out). Maybe it was being annoyed at myself, though my fear is genuine it really isn’t something I consider acceptable because it seems everyone else can do it but me. So I made a call, having googled “terrified driver lessons Cork”, and found Steve, an instructor with Alert School of Motoring (he also taught Anna Saccone how to drive if you’re a fan of hers). From the get go he seemed understanding and promised that I wouldn’t be dragged around roundabouts on the first lesson, which was a relief.
Two lessons in, I won’t say I’m mastering the wheel or that I’m not terrified, but I am getting there. Myself and the clutch aren’t best friends, I seem to be far too easy going on it, but we are getting there which is the important thing. Supposedly next week we’re off to a housing estate having graduated from driving circles around the carpark of Woodies, praying that anyone wanting to park there would spot my deer-in-the-headlights demeanour and decide they didn’t need that DIY equipment today. I’ve made sure its on a school day so I’m lessening the chance of small kids running around and hoping that means it will be a bit quieter. As you can see, I’m slowly working up to the place where I can manage main roads and roundabouts. One step at a time, easy does it.
I’m happy I’m going for it – I’m making myself do things I don’t normally do this year, 2015 is the year of taking chances and trying new things. Some things are good, some are bad but at least I can say I’ve done them. As I’ve repeatedly been told, this is a good life skill to have, and if it means I can ditch Bus Eireann and potentially manage semi-regular trips to Wexford/Dublin/nicer places in Ireland, all the better. I’ve ten mandatory lessons left, but I have a feeling it will take a few more to get me to a testable place – but after that, the world is my oyster. Roll on traffic jams and The Last Word related road rage, I’m coming for you.
Any tips for a terrified learner driver? Let me know in the comments below!