Picture this: a 16-year-old sitting in the driver’s seat for the first time with a shining red L magnet on the back of the car. Accompanied by an experienced driver in the passenger seat, it’s time to take on the road.
My first time driving wasn’t exactly what I expected. Despite my mom’s car being an undersized hatchback, all of a sudden, it became massive as I put the key in the ignition. The once seemingly small engine roared as I started up the car. I kept my foot on the brake pedal for too long…whoops. In an empty parking lot, with my mother instructing me forward, I tentatively took my foot off the brake pedal and I was off (very tentatively, that is).
As I started to practise driving, I also began to really notice the road. I don’t know how I missed so much in the passenger seat. Roadside cautionary signs and regulatory warnings were telling me what to do, when to change lanes, where to park. Like a secret that was just revealed to me, driving was new and exciting. To all the experienced drivers on the road: keep this in mind as you drive impatiently behind us L drivers.
It was a learning curve for my mom too. Unlike my driving instructor, she didn’t have the comfort of extra brakes and mirrors. If you’re currently supervising an L driver, my advice to you is to pretend you’re a sports coach and the person you’re driving with is your athlete. Train them, encourage them and give them tips to succeed but let them learn by experience too. Though classroom training sessions are available to learn about driving safety/skills, the feel of the car can’t really be taught without practice in a vehicle.
Maybe you didn’t get an L, or maybe you don’t even know what the L sign is for. (The L distinguishes learning drivers from others; learners must be accompanied by a supervisor, only one additional passenger other than the supervisor is permitted, and other restrictions apply) But know when you see an L on the back of a car, someone’s in the process of gaining a life skill. Driving safely and responsibly by practising good driving habits is that person’s goal.
When it comes to driving with L drivers, I would suggest to leave some room on the roads, and to have some patience. Can you think back to when you were learning to drive, or when someone you know was learning to drive? It’s a process that takes time and lots of focus.
I won’t call it a crash course but L driving is a turning point and a learning experience for sure.
Shae-Linn Davies is a Grade 11 student in the Reynolds secondary flex program and a Saanich News contributor.