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As33
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09 May 2011, 5:28 am

Hi, I'm learning to drive and taking really long. I want to know what difficulties you faced or are facing while learning to drive and how you overcame them. :)



MichaelDWhite
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09 May 2011, 6:00 am

It took me a long time too and I still have some problems. I don't remember specifically what I did but I kept practicing and didn't give up. One common problem for Aspies is estimating distances between yourself and other cars. You may want to ask your instructor for special assistance in this area.



OJani
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09 May 2011, 6:16 am

I learned driving when I was 17. I had difficulties with the handling of the car, was so slow that I got minus point for it at the exam. I had to take extra driving lessons, even though I was young (supposed to learn faster) and I liked cars.

I always tried to focus my attention and do what the instructor said. I also tried to remain calm when something wrong happened, for example, when I left the car in a traffic junction with the engine stopped by my mistake... A little bragging: Actually, several of the better co-learners failed on the day of the exam, but not me... So, be precise and patient.


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Apple_in_my_Eye
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09 May 2011, 6:42 am

When I learned, I felt like the car was too big and had little sense of how it was positioned in the lane.

My dad taught me a trick that helped, though: stop the car about 2 feet away from the white line, and sight across the hood at it. Some feature of the hood should line up with the line. That way, when you're moving you can sight to that feature and it will tell you how far from (or how far over) the white line you are.

I also had/have trouble judging distance and speed. I drive very cautiously, though, which seems to be enough, as I've only had one accident in 25 years (and that was due to falling asleep at the wheel).

I learned in a slow, country town, which helped, I think. City (link in San Francisco) driving still wears me out.



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09 May 2011, 6:45 am

I learned in my 20s.

In 1995 I took 20 lessons - had no practice because I had no access to a car - and failed my test on reversing round a corner; the rest of my mark sheet was spotless. I was gutted and cried like a baby. The driving instructor said he'd never seen anyone cry so much. Not so hot on the old emotional regulation there - it wasn't like it even mattered in any important sense, I had no access to a car.

In 1999/2000 I took another 10 lessons, with practice in husbands car, and passed easily.

I am a good safe driver, but I don't enjoy driving - I really get thrown when people change the rules on me.

For example, if I'm supposed to give way to you - PLEASE don't wait and give way to me instead, I know you're being courteous but it really messes with me.
And if I'm at a junction where you should be in the left lane for turning left or straight ahead and right lane for turning right, please don't use the right lane for straight ahead even though it's "what everyone does" at the junction. It throws me right off.

I didn't realise until a couple of years ago how much driving really stressed me. I used to drive a lot. But I would get to my destination completely frazzled and often melt down (or at least not be able to engage in what I was supposed to be doing there). Now I minimise the driving I do ... If I'm going to somewhere to do something (especially if it involved sustained interaction with people) I'll walk if it takes less than an hour, or take the bus so I get there in a better state and more able to cope with the "something".



purchase
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09 May 2011, 8:19 am

YellowBanana - I cried too after my instructor at school (was 15 + in driver's ed) yelled at me. Spent two class periods in the bathroom crying!

Difficulties: for some reason I regularly forget which side of the road cars drive on and it takes me a moment to remember when I get in the car and sometimes... uhmm... while I'm driving.

I love music but did not listen to the radio for the first six months I drove cause it would've been too distracting.

I drive slowly too. Well, I drive THE SPEED LIMIT, but somehow this is not acceptable and people are constantly honking at me and angrily speeding around me. Oh well, I ignore it.

Merging onto busy highways with fast-moving cars ! This was an immense issue! My stress level was indescribably high and I was pretty much whimpering when I did this early on (still do often). I learned you kind of just have to make a place for yourself by going fast and people will let you in - their alternative is to hit you. You really can't be going slow cause a_ the cars behind you waiting to merge could hit you and b) the cars on the highway can't slow down suddenly to let in a slow-moving car.

Oh, and I had no idea being bad at judging distance was associated with autism but I am HORRIBLE at it! Fortunately I've only been in two very minor slow-moving (like 2 mph) accidents and I don't hit parked cars cause when in doubt I give parked and moving cars a wide berth. But I regularly run into parking concrete blocks/fences/bushes/etc. while trying to park.

In general, when in doubt and I'm safe where I am, I wait until I'm certain it's safe to go. Even if there's a driver waiting behind me getting angry,as long as they're stopped and not in danger of running into me, I DO NOT GO until I'm sure it's safe. I think it's worked well for me cause like I said, only two tiny accidents in almost ten years of driving (first at age 15 - forgot to check rear mirror and bumped into neighbor's PARKED CAR backing out of my driveway, second at 22 at an intersection going 2 mph)

Oh. One thing that was tough at first was being able to distinguish, when turning left, what was the lane I was supposed to go into and what was still part of the countering traffic lane. Had to eventually assume that the furthest possible lane I could see was my lane.

Also knowing how fast to be going when approaching a stoplight that could turn yellow then red at any time. Gradually you justlearn how much time you have but you have to be wary a certain distance ahead, and be cautious at first (go on the slow side as you approach a light as it might turn yellow).

Many more things. Driving is really overwhelming. I'll post if I think of more.



TheBicyclingGuitarist
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09 May 2011, 9:01 am

I used to say I was taught to drive by the flying aces of World War I.

Aviation history has always been one of my special interests, especially the military aviation of the World Wars of the 20th century. When I was a boy, I read several books that were written by World War I flying aces. In World War I the casualty rate was very high for airmen, so any that survived long enough to write books themselves (rather than having books written about them, which I read too) were pretty good at what they did.

One of the key tricks for staying alive is to keep aware of what is going on around you. For example, in switching lanes don't just rely on the mirrors alone but actually turn your head a bit to the side just enough to see if any cars are close enough in that lane to be in your blind spot, so you won't cut them off or slam into their side. Airmen always kept track of other aircraft around them, their relative speeds and directions, so they wouldn't be surprised by "the Hun in the sun." Routinely check the mirrors to keep track of how closely other cars are following you, but don't stare so long into the mirror that you run into something in front of you! It should just take a glance, a split second, but do it regularly every so often.

Another less obvious trick is to stay focused on driving until the car is actually parked. Many accidents happen right at the end of a driving trip when one is almost home, if one relaxes before it is safe to do so. Pay attention, don't assume you are done yet even if you are turning onto your own street and are just a block away from your driveway. Kids can still run out in front of you. Other cars can back out of driveways etc.

The connection to World War I is that many airmen were shot down while they were on the landing approach to their own airfield. This is because when they were almost home, they would let their guard down and start thinking about dinner, or what stories they would tell their drinking buddies, or maybe that cute French wench down the road. In their minds they'd be in bed with that French girl already when in reality their aeroplane had not yet landed. Meanwhile, an enemy fighter pilot had snuck up on them when they were daydreaming and shot them down.

With practice you'll get better at judging speed and distance. Be extra cautious when starting out, but not too cautious! Don't stop when you're not supposed to stop or the car behind you could slam into you. Don't drive too slow; that can be just as dangerous as driving too fast (it also ticks off the people behind you, and their impatience can cause them to drive more recklessly). I've always found busy parking lots to be the most potentially dangerous driving situations, with cars and people cutting through spots without following the lanes, backing out without looking first, people with shopping carts coming out of nowhere, etc.

Good luck, have fun, be safe.


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yellow-eyeballs
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09 May 2011, 9:38 am

I attempted to start at 16, but it just proved too stressful for me then. :x
For several months, I took weekly lessons through a driving school until I felt comfortable enough to take the test last February, which I surprisingly passed on the first try. :D
Last spring, my dad got a cheap used car; I spent most of the spring/summer learning how to handle it, as it was a stickshift.
I sometimes find driving very stressful, especially if I'm in a hurry to get somewhere/already in a bad mood/etc. I don't drive very often, however, since I'm still broke and job-seeking. :roll:
I'm pretty sure I have some issues with judging distance and the speed of other cars (which nearly caused a couple accidents). Now, my approach is basically not to do anything unless I'm sure I can do it relatively safely.



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09 May 2011, 9:38 am

purchase wrote:
Many more things. Driving is really overwhelming.


This sums it up nicely.

Night time driving I struggle with because I don't do well with bright lights/high contrast (for example I can't watch TV in a dark room) so the headlights, streetlights and traffic lights all just glare madly and interact with each other and it is very overwhelming for me.

When I can, I minimise driving during the day and avoid it at night.

I find I am calmer when I drive without the radio on. And I struggle to converse with a passenger when driving (actually I struggle to converse most of the time, but it's harder when driving and it affects both the conversation and my driving)

I didn't have too many problems with speed & distance judgement it was more the "unwritten rules of the road" that bother me. I have never been able to understand why people don't just stick to the real rules of the road - everyone would be much calmer if they did.



antonblock
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09 May 2011, 9:53 am

hi there,

it took me also some more ours than usually. I learned it more slowly than the others. I think I just thought too much, I just didn't think about that there might come a car from the left or the right, but in contrast to others, i was even more cautious, I also took care that there doesn't come any unknown alien vehicle from behind, from below and from above .. ;-)

I failed my first practical test, but succeeded finally ;-)

Can anyone explain why we are so bad at it?

thanks,
anton



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09 May 2011, 10:12 am

I tried to learn to drive at the age of 17. But at age of 18 i choose to not learn to drive. Drive does mean pay attenion to more than one sense (hearing and seeing at the same time) and i can't do this. It's true that even deaf people drive (they can't hear), so this should not be a problem, but i don't fell safe.


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09 May 2011, 10:40 am

I didn't learn to drive until I was 18 because it scared me to death. I was worried I'd mess up and hurt someone. Then my dad basically forced me into the drivers seat and said "You can do this".

What took me the longest was learning to drive a manual gearbox. That took me atleast a week. But once you learn and drive with one it just becomes natural.....like breathing.

But once I had my license and was out on the road on my own it was liberating. I felt like the whole world was at my fingertips. I wasn't limited to my town anymore. I could go ANYWHERE. It was the greatest feeling in the world.


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09 May 2011, 2:22 pm

Learning to operate the vehicle combined with having to think about everything happening on the road, combined with my spatial and directional difficulties made learning to drive a huge challenge for me. Learning any new process is difficult for me, but this one was even more so because there is so much going on. I had my drivers training at age 15 but was not licensed until 20 when it became necessary. On a couple weekends, my dad took me to an abandoned parking lot, set up a bunch of cones and let me drive around in circles by myself until I was comfortable with the vehicle. It took many hours of practice, but once I was comfortable controlling the vehicle, it became easier to deal with whatever was happening on the road.

I still have a difficulty driving in busy conditions such as in inner cities or parking lots, but I have become an excellent driver and have only had one accident, which wasn't my fault (I blame the deer).



FaeryEthereal
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09 May 2011, 8:06 pm

It took me over a year to learn to drive, my friends at the time learnt in a few short weeks and passed first or second time. I passed on my third attempt afrer MANY lessons. I can relate to most of the posters on this thread, driving causes me huge anxiety, I've never been able to cope with busy traffic well and it's not so much the actual driving of the car, it's all the rules of the road and other drivers tailgateing me or getting angry or pulling in front of me etc. I also have problems with depth perception and have scraped my car (and other peoples :oops: ) thinking I could drive through a small space and vice versa, thinking there wasn't enough room to get through (when it turned out there was) and an angry mob of cars behind me beeping their horns. I also drive too close to the side of the road because I am afraid of getting to close to the center line.

I also cannot park if someone is watching me and I quickly go to pieces if something unexpected happens such as roadworks and having to divert. I've had a couple of minor accidents that shook me up. I drove only around my local area and was terrified if I had to go further afield, unless a trusted person was there with me. All that is nothing though, as now I live in a different country and they drive on the other side of the road and the steering wheel is on the other side!! !! I learnt one way and now everything is opposite and very confusing for me :( No-one can understand why I am refusing to drive.........it's because I am terrified I might cause an accident and it all seems too overwhelming, I also have to take another test to get a license here and I simply cannot face it, I don't know what to do :cry:



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09 May 2011, 8:25 pm

I was in my 20s when I learned to drive, and that was only because it was the only way I could get to a job. To this day I have trouble merging and changing lanes. I think I have trouble judging distance too, because I can never tell when it's safe to merge. People are always honking at me and flipping me off. :(

Driving at night is a nightmare, and I'm quite sure I shouldn't do it, especially if it's raining. All I can do is follow the tail lights of the car in front of me, because I can't see the road. I loathe driving and do it as little as possible.

Oddly, I'm pretty good at parallel parking compared to most people, judging from the parking jobs on the street where I used to live.