I knew it was going to be a busy Saturday morning, I had 3 pupils lined up, 2 of them were relatively new and absolute beginners, my first driving lesson was at 08:45!
My first pupil is preparing for a test in two weeks, so today we were concentrating on big roundabouts, dual carriageways and just making sure she can give a smooth and safe drive. The drive starts of well, we get to Kilburn High road, which is not too busy at this time of the morning. We need to do a right turn to bypass a busy junction ahead, so I give her the instruction 'take the next road on the right', she checks her mirrors, puts the signal, slows the car and then slightly crosses the centre line, blocking the path of oncoming traffic! After we get into the new road, I asks her why she crossed the centre line when it wasn't safe, and she says she did not want to cause traffic to queue up behind her!
The rest of the driving lesson was like a comedy of errors, taking wrong exits at roundabouts, using the wrong gear at junctions, I even had to use the duals to stop her from going into a vehicle coming from the right at a mini roundabout.
We only managed to do one manoeuvre, which was a parallel park, that went well until she hit the kerb just as she was finishing off the exercise. We meet again on Tuesday to sort out some of the problems we had today.
My 2nd pupil of the day only started last week, so we basically concentrated on moving off and stopping, building her confidence in handling the car, sorting out her steering, changing of gears, hill starts, moving off down hill, reversing and clutch control. At the end of the lesson she was ready for junctions, so I advised her to have a read up on junctions in preparation for her next lesson.
My 3rd and final pupil of the day turned out to be something else! It was her first driving lesson with me, so as we drove to the training area, I got some details from her. She had done about 7 lessons with an instructor but confessed that she could not remember much, so it would be like she was starting all over.
At the training area I checked her eye sight, and license and we swapped seats. I did a quick re-cap of a controls lesson mainly using Q&A filling in an information she had forgotten. We were ready to move off, she didn't seem nervous or anything, so I talking her through POM. We got the car Prepared, I talked her through the Observations, and when it was safe, we started Moving, and that is when it happened!
She started to panic, 'Oh my God, its going fast...', I had to step in, 'A little less gas, steer to the left, that's it, KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE WHEEL', I talked her through pulling up on the left, got the car secured, told her to take a deep breath and relax. I then found out that she had been involved in a car accident as a passenger, and that she was thus nervous about driving! This isn't going to be easy I thought to myself. I had to calm her down, and re-assure her that I would make sure she was safe, would not throw her in the deep end, and explained that she had control over what the car did, the gas determining how fast it went, and she could always take her foot of the gas, use the brakes to slow the car down etc.
It was a hard driving lesson for me, but we did move off and stop a couple of times, we also turned right a few junctions major to minor, and by the end of the lesson, I had at least stopped her from taking her hands of the wheel, and built a little confidence in the little driving she was doing.
I never knew someone could be so petrified of learning to drive, and not give a hint of it.