Sunday 4 February 2024

Driving confidence

Driving ahead

They say a horse can sense the fear and nervousness of a rider in the saddle, as I am not a horse rider, I hope the first time I do mount a horse, it will feel that beyond my being a learner, I intend to have a really good time exuding confidence that I am being borne with dignity to the extent that the horse would contribute to the experience.

I found myself observing an interesting stance on the control of the automobile. Interestingly, I do not drive, and I cannot drive because of issues with my eyesight reduced by no conception of stereo vision, I have a lazy eye making judging distance and speed of approach quite difficult.

Bosom driving

A lady literally had her chest on the steering wheel, and that was not because of her ‘Dolly Parton’ assets, she had leaned so far forward, her forearms had no clearance as her hands gripped the top of the steering wheel, every so intently, I could sense the apparent lack of confidence in her driving.

It was like her exercise of caution had become a dangerous safety issue if at any time she needed to execute an emergency manoeuvre. Even a non-driver could see it. I would hate to be a passenger in her car.

Then think of those holding the steering wheel at arm’s length, leant back with both hands on the wheel, probably not monarchs of the road but not shy either.

Driving with Mrs

A husband and wife in the car and relaxed driving, both arms dropped down and the steering wheel lightly held at the bottom. They are probably on a leisurely day out.

Then thinking of the man with an arm on the side window and a finger hooking the side of the steering wheel, the other hand on his lap, maybe his head is bopping to the sound of the loud music in his car. That's self-confidence bordering on the supercilious.

My mother started driving in the 60s, though she cannot drive anymore due to sight degeneration. She was always confident and assertive, even on one instance in the mid-1970s, after she was overtaken by a bus driver, he popped his head out of his window to look as if in disbelief that it was a woman driving and driving so well too.

The driving kings

Yet, the kings of the road are not the fast car aficionados who have taken their middle-life crisis to the Ferrari or Lamborghini without having kept trim that they are forklifted into the car, and they have to crawl out on hands and knees, the indignity, it was a widely shared video on social media.

They are in fact, the truck and coach drivers who through use and practice with their fully aware responsibility of human or goods cargo have with practice and experience mastered both vehicle and route, their steering wheels quite like plates angled slightly over their laps and the manoeuvrability that would leave you amazed.

They are confident and effortlessly so.

Driving from the back seat

But I must end with the backseat drivers of which my father is a prime example and from whom I have acquired so much driving theory, I could well be a professor of theoretical driving. In his professional years in senior management, he had company cars that came with his role, and to the company cars were assigned drivers.

One such driver had before been a truck driver and had the penchant for slightly overshooting a turning before turning in as one would when driving a truck or heavy goods vehicle with the length that defines them, this is far different from the shorter length of a 4-door sedan car, and even from being absorbed in the morning newspaper, the Chief Accountant would thunder from behind, the alert for a driving admonition to the driver began with what essentially was his mannerism, “Look!”

Yes, “Look!”, was the equivalent of Jesus’ statements that began with ‘Verily, verily,’ in the King James Version of the Bible, it was the notification to prick your ears for an incoming pearl of driving wisdom. Whilst sitting in the front passenger’s seat, it was there that I learnt, you do not need to put your foot on the brakes to slow down on a motorway, if you have a lot of stopping distance, just shift your gears downward and enjoy the science of automobile engineering.

I have resisted every urge to be a backseat driver where partners like Steven in the 1990s and Brian presently are concerned, they are very good drivers though and I thank them for having such driving confidence, if I had the eyes for it, their example would have stood me well.

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