Published on November 22, 2012 | by Carleanne O'Donoghue

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Help! My driving is worse than George Michael’s

a Toy truck crashed over the edge of a rock.

HELP! Car overboard [Flickr]

I know that a lot of people struggle when they learn to drive, but I feared I was probably one of the worst until I read that more than 300 examiners and learners were injured during driving tests last year.

I must also point out that I have not taken a practical test yet, but I have one booked and I am fully capable of driving a car without causing somebody serious injury – well maybe just a scrape or two judging by my inability to brake at junctions.

After more than 60 hours of driving practice I feel like I am never going to pass and that the DSA should just give me a license out of pity.

With this in mind I’ve taken a trip around the various UAL campuses to find out whether I am alone. London is not one of the best places to drive, so I am not expecting to find many people who do drive but there must be a few that are learning.

Many employers now expect candidates for jobs to hold a full UK driving license, which is crucial for freelancers in the creative industries.

Concentration

Naomi Sullivan, 22, LCC BA Surface design student told me: “I’ve recently passed my test, in London too which is really good. I know a lot of people who learned to drive outside of London and now just don’t drive because they’re scared of the traffic.

“If you learn to drive here you can drive anywhere. To be fair I don’t use my car often, I share it with my mum. I wouldn’t say I was a bad driver, I’m just not good at observing when I’m driving along. I think my driving instructor would hate me if she saw me now.”

It seems that I am not the only one who finds it difficult to keep an eye on what’s going on a mile up the road while you’re concentrating on going 60mph down a main road with traffic coming at you from all angles.

It is not natural to be travelling at such a speed and to not be looking at what is going on immediately in front of you – which is why I end up throwing myself into roundabouts at stupid speeds, utterly terrifying my driving instructor and stressing myself out.

Robotic cars

I am also going to blame the car I drive. As great at the new Citroen C3 is, it is a robot; I am so used to it telling me what to do I forget that sometimes I need to actually drive it. It tells me when to change gear and what gear to change to, which at the start was great.

Now it is annoying as hell. Changing up is easy, it is just remembering to change down that is another of my problems. I am not going to go into the whole stereotype thing, because frankly it is just a load of bull.

“I think my driving instructor would hate me if she saw me now.” Naomi Sullivan

I know plenty of male drivers who cannot park to save their lives and it is a wonder how any of them managed to pass their tests, the same with a lot of girls I know.

What is the point in working so hard to get a license and making yourself practically bankrupt in the process if you are just going to ignore speed limits, text while you are driving and generally piss everybody else on the road off? At £25 a lesson when I do eventually get a driving license I vow to become a granny driver just to teach these clowns a lesson.

Leanne Franklin, 27, a Make Up student at LCF shares my view: “I don’t drive but I’ve passed my test and could if I wanted to, it’s just too expensive to run a car and be a student, after I graduate I hope to own my own car for work purposes.

“In regards to irresponsible drivers I think they’re selfish. I tell my friends off all the time when they text and do other things while they drive because at the end of the day they’re putting my life in danger.

“Back home in Manchester when I used to drive my friends about I’d get moaned at all the time because I took notice of speed limits and actually abided by the rules. People soon shut up when they were riddled with speeding tickets and orders to attend speed awareness courses.”

It’s not me, it’s you

As I said earlier I have 60 hours of driving practice under my belt but I still feel like given half the chance I would end up wrapped round a tree or in true George style in the front of Snappy Snaps.

I don’t get nervous – I just get frustrated. So I went to a psychiatrist to find out whether I was normal or not. The anonymous shrink, as he will be referred to, told me; “It’s very normal for people to experience negative feelings when driving.

“In your case, because you feel like you have to do it and underestimate yourself in regards to your driving ability you have a hard time progressing.”

“As long as you don’t crash or exceed the speed limit and brake stupidly early you’re fine. After you pass your test you can adapt your driving style as much as you want.” Leon D’Arcey

Tell me something I don’t know doc. He told me that I should be hypnotised to try and remove any anxiety I have towards getting behind the wheel. Unfortunately, I would not trust any one other than Derren Brown to send me into a state of sleep.

Leon D’Arcey, 25, a Textiles student at Chelsea advised me on how best to avoid fucking up: “Well you just exaggerate everything! When you’re parking look around loads and when you’re driving along just make a conscious effort to move your head a lot to make it seem like you’re looking in your mirrors, even if you’re not really.

“As long as you don’t crash or exceed the speed limit and brake stupidly early you’re fine. After you pass your test you can adapt your driving style as much as you want. Chatting and having a bit of banter when you’re on your lessons and test are good too.” Leon invited me for a drive but I decided to give it a miss.

I didn’t fancy pretending to be a caricature on my next driving lesson. I thought that banter could be more dangerous than it sounds. For example, on my last lesson I was driving down a country lane next to a big house that had a large car park in the woods.

My driving instructor decided that whilst I was doing 60mph down a narrow road he’d tell me that “there’s a good spot for dogging”. Nearly swerving off the road and into oncoming traffic I came to the conclusion that maybe I was not the problem.

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