Erin McCracken: Learning to drive all over again

Boxes. Blockers. 360s. Huh?
Slightly panicked, I’m brainstorming a number of last-minute reasons why what I’m about to do isn’t necessary. Call it nerves.

Boxes. Blockers. 360s. Huh?

Slightly panicked, I’m brainstorming a number of last-minute reasons why what I’m about to do isn’t necessary. Call it nerves.

But since I have no idea what those words have to do with driving, it becomes clear there is a very good reason why I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of a Wallace Driving School training car, with owner and instructor Steve Wallace in the passenger seat.

I’m about to merge from my parking spot on Oak Bay Avenue when the 37-year driving instructor and former Mayor of Quesnel informs me I haven’t done a 360 before I pull out – that is, a 360-degree visual check.

Wallace instructs me to glance over my right shoulder out the car’s rear window and check all three mirrors before looking to the blind spot on my left.

I suspected my driving skills, while not deadly, were lacking. After all, it has been 20 years since my driver training course and road test.

I’ve asked Wallace to give me what is one part road test, two parts driving lesson, given the crush of news headlines relating to horrific collisions, drivers picking off cyclists and pedestrians, and the damage some senior drivers have done.

As I white-knuckle the steering wheel, Wallace relays a long list of driving rules I’ve never heard of. The driver’s road test is also more difficult nowadays, he says.

“If you forget the 360-degree check three times or any portion thereof (on the test), you’re done,” Wallace advises me as we crawl through a construction zone.

“You would have failed before you left the parking lot because you have to do a 360 before leaving your parking space, a 360 on the first turn around the ICBC building (where the road tests start and end), a 360 on the second turn and a 360 left turn out of the (lot).”

I know I’m not alone in my faulty habits. Evidence supports the need that all drivers should undergo refresher driver training, as well as mandatory road test re-examinations every 10 years if we are to become a more road-savvy nation.

Motorists in their golden years should not solely be targeted, considering our bad habits form long before our hair turns grey. With refresher courses, many of us would be better prepared for the road now, and in advance of reaching our senior years.

I cautiously pass a cyclist. Not only have the rules evolved and traffic levels are at an all-time high, whom we share the road with has also changed.

“You haven’t checked your rearview mirror on a break since we started, so check your left shoulder. No, the other one,” Wallace says patiently.

I’m nervous, did I say that already?

Refresher training, coupled with the pressures of undergoing a road test re-examination once every decade, would beef up our skills enough that we would be more deserving of our driving privileges. Our prowess behind the wheel would come in handy as our physical abilities diminish.

“Did I pass?” I ask Wallace hopefully, despite the number of times I asked him, “What does that mean?” during the unofficial test.

It was not without its challenges, but the point is that after an hour of instruction, I’m putting my new-found skills, such as 360-degree visual checks, into practice, along with my new blocking know-how.

Don’t know what blocking is? My point exactly.

Erin McCracken is a reporter with the Victoria News.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Saanich firefighters save Remembrance Day ceremony at retirement home

The flag cord broke and crews worked to get it back up in time for the ceremony

Christian minister accused of transphobia draws small audience, protesters in Sidney

Art Lucier is ‘100 per cent’ sure would-be audience stayed away because of perceived controversy

Victoria women’s program in critical need of household items for women

Everything from dining sets to beds is needed to keep their programs running

Peninsula Panthers face nemesis Victoria Cougars Friday night

Cougars are the only Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team to have beaten the local Cats twice

New Kiwanis club is official for West Shore

Ten members in 10 days hits the mandatory mark for new service club

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

Vancouver Island substitute teacher said he wanted a student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

Service costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, in Canada

Trudeau’s opponents: One gives him an earful, another seeks common ground

PM meets with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe

Rona’s ‘truly Canadian’ ads are inaccurate, watchdog says

Ads Standards points out U.S.-based Lowe’s acquired Rona in 2016

Brian Burke considered favourite to replace Don Cherry

Brian Burke is the 5-4 pick to be the full-time replacement next season

Major donor Peter Allard takes UBC to court to get his name on all law degrees

Philanthropist claims school not adhering to 2014 agreement for his $30-million donation

Most Read