For Those Who Drive

My sis took delivery of her new Viva last Friday. It’s in silver, a relatively ‘safe’ colour while I would have preferred the jade green Viva. Anyway, it’s her car so no problemo.
She just got her driver’s licence a couple of months ago and she had been thinking of getting herself a car so that her driving skills would not rust and she wouldn’t be fearful of driving.
I think everyone, especially women, should learn how to drive and not rely too much on their spouses or boyfriends to drive them around.
When my mom got her driver’s licence back when I was about 10, we daughters were ecstatic – now mom could come to school and pick us up instead of having to walk home, lugging our heavy school bags. And she had a cool car – a dark blue Mini which looked so cute on the road.
When I got my driver’s licence as a 19-year old many moons ago, I was apprehensive. I knew my Dad wasn’t going to give me his Ford to practise. I practically had to threaten to cut up my driver’s licence before he finally relented.
Now I know why he feared so much. It’s not that he didn’t want to let me practice driving and parking. It’s just that he was fearful for his life, sitting beside me.
That was the same fear as I sat next to my sister as she bravely drove me to Queensbay Mall yesterday. To say that I wasn’t freaked – I’d be lying – I was pressing a non-existent brake pedal each time she did a boo-boo while driving. And I couldn’t help but nag her. My cousins did not join us – they didn’t want to suffer the agony of being honked by other motorists!
It was a plus point that she was driving an auto car – she didn’t have to meddle with gears at all. Everyone seems to be afraid of changing gears manually. She said she would’ve been embarrassed to death if her engine died or have the car ‘do a samba’ (the result of not changing gears!). (I’m a manual car driver so I enjoy changing gears and all. I think it is a myth that women should drive auto cars. Pffft! Like we have less brain cells or what? Or less leg muscles to depress the clutch? Ya, ya, clutch as in clutch pedal, not clutch bag.) A manual car is no harder to drive than an auto, once you get the hang of it. And it makes us all feel a teeny weeny bit like F1 drivers, all this gear-changing and flipping.
But power steering in the hands of a freshie driver is not easy for the passenger who tries to be courageous. Any little movement moves the car and has the car swerving in ways which makes other people honk furiously.
My sister still has much to learn about staying on the road properly, without taking over the other side of the road. She needs to learn about turning gently and how to estimate distance between her car and other cars.
I know I shouldn’t be too harsh either. I probably did the same thing to my Dad and gave him nightmares each time I got behind the wheel. Which is why we all need to go through this awful learning process and someone has to have the guts of steel to gently encourage one to take the first leap.
When we finally arrived in one piece at the mall, she was grinning and called my dad to proclaim that she had finally taken to the road AND drove us to the mall AND managed to park without a hitch.
I think I should be given a medal of valour – for daring to sit beside her!
DO you remember your first driving experience after you got your licence? Did you give your parents a heart attack too when you drove for the first time?

12 thoughts on “For Those Who Drive”

  1. I’m still driving a manual car, from the day i got my driving license in 1991 till today 😀
    My first driving experience was unenventful. I drove all by myself without anyone sitting next to me.

  2. I didn’t give my parents a heart attack, only my mom — until now. Just like you, she’d have “invisible” break pedals at the passenger side and she’d “step” on them each time she feels I got too near to the car in front of me or when I’m taking a turn.
    And mind you, it’s very annoying.
    She still does it, but now I’ll tease and laugh at her each time because it is quite an amusing sight. My dad’s more cool about it. Each time my mom goes “MUNN…….” my dad would say, “Tsk, just let her drive-lah…”
    I do hope to familiarize myself with manual transition again — yes, it is rather stylish to flip those gears. Heh.

  3. Hi Chen: Yes, manual driving is the way to go yeah! Yep, I’ve been a manual driver since I got my licence back in hmmm let’s see ’92 – ’93.
    Vern: You are lucky. My Dad was never so kind like your dad. He would try to escape from teaching me how to drive when I first got my licence. We’d go to the old market square in Banting and we’d go round and round until I got tired or he got tired of nagging me. One day we even attracted the attention of a police car! No kidding.

  4. I had my first driving lesson (totally unforgettable) when I was studying at the M4P at Bkt Gelugor, Penang in the year 1984. For the ‘uninitiated’, that is Maktab Perguruan Persekutuan Pulau Pinang. Both me and my room mate signed up for the same driving school and come the first lesson, the instructor drove his trusted but beaten Datsun 120Y to fetch me. Once the car came out of the gates of the college, the instructor coolly came out of the driver side and asked me to move over. To my horrors of horrors, something I have totally unprepared for, to my fright, he asked me to start driving. Reason for my not unfounded fear, without a practice or even show-how, he asked me to start driving on the very busy stretch which mind you is a mini highway, for you who are familiar with the area. But good thing I survived the ‘day’ and got my driving licence at first try. When I first drove, my dad usually supervises me as I have to drive him to work. His first advice (and still rings loud and clear) is to avoid motorcyclist at all costs and if the situation arises, always give way to them. It is not worth the hassle to be involved in an accident with them. As the person wrapped by metal, we are deemed ‘guilty’ by all means. I also learnt that the insurance they purchased is so minimal that it will not be able to offer 3rd-party insurance. Meaning, you will have to pay for the damages yourself and have your NCB forfeited.

  5. Hi Kate: Now THAT is what I call a super confident driving tutor. I can imagine the fear of driving on the real road, no matter how traffic-less it is. Yes, the motorcyclist advice is so true. In Penang, traffic is nuts. I told my KL friend that if she can drive in Penang, hell, she can drive anywhere without fear. In Penang we need to avoid the beca/trishaws, motorbikes, pedestrians, other cars, etc. and sometimes motorists coming from opposite directions (so many roads are now one-way streets but people are still in the dark about it….). Oh in Penang, most Penangites usually honk at outstation cars (we know by looking at their W or B number plates). My KL friend who was stationed here for a year found out the hard way – her Iswara with KL number plate was often honked at!

  6. That’s the good thing I about having an outstation number plate – everyone thinks that I’m an outstation driver and there’s nothing fun like giving KL drivers a bad name!
    The best thing to do whilst driving in Penang is to just give way UNLESS you are stuck in a jam then it’s suicide because no-one will let you in. And you will be stuck forever and ever.

  7. Dun even get me started on driving. An hour from Ampang into Cyber and an hour ++ back to Ampang…DAILY. Completes the playing of 1 whole CD. Heard Madonna’s True Confession 4 times…too lazy to change the CD (advise to all car owners who loves an improve sound system in car – get a multiple CD changer!!!). Actually, Madonna’s music ain’t so bad.
    I still drive a manual Proton Hatchback Iswara (oooo my baby!!) This car has gone through thick and thin. I am proud to declare I have 7 accidents (choi choi choi…no more!!! heheh) I always tell ppl when u look closely at my car, there are 3 shades of white!’s a little tip for drivers who still have a clean slate on their car and licence. What to do in an accident 101?
    1) First thing do not panic
    2) Do not get angry and get out of car and feel like killing the driver who hit u. If u hit the other car, look pathetic and helpless (remember, puss in boots from Shrek!)
    3) Do not haggle and immediately ask to settle in cash there and then unless its a tiny little hairline scratch which u can use magic ink to colour back la…(just kidding). Seriously, don’t settle.
    4) Ask driver to show licence and IC. Its good to keep a notebook or pen in bag / car. Take down details.
    5) Next go to windscreen and take down his Road Tax no. Very important, dun forget car no.
    5) Ask driver that we shall both proceed to Balai Polis to report. Big accident one, u must. If its your fault, u must all the more report. Mana la tau, out of whatever reason, the other driver mampus that night!!
    6) Ah….sampai Balai Polis (Con-men den!!). Write report and do the usual la. If u are lucky u get nice inspector, if not u get con-man. They will request to take a picture of car. Some may insist u use workshop personally recommended.
    7) Remember to take a copy of your police report. This is to file insurance. Your insurance will claim from the other party’s insurance.
    8) Having said that, in the instance of very minor accident, AND the other driver is nice, amicably can be settled out of Balai Polis. I am sure there are nice ppl in Penang…..
    Remember, berhati hati di Jalan Raya.
    Miss driving in Penang and those numbskull drivers who do not stop and look while coming out of junction (no offence to Penang drivers!!)

  8. Hi d: Well said. Penang drivers are usually nice until they start driving. Then they become totally nasty and selfish and won’t let you into their queue or road until you start becoming like them!

  9. HI Cyberjaya Duddette:
    Oooi, thank you! Those were really helpful tips you know. Haha, as a veteran of 7 times of mishaps, you sure do know your rights. Update on my sister’s driving shenanigans: my cousins and I sat stiff in her car when she drove us around on Saturday. Nearly got scratched by a stupid jeep (jeep’s fault). Penang drivers are mad nuts I tell you. I suppose seeing that someone has a P sticker on their car gives them satisfaction of overtaking them. Yes, plenty of numskull drivers and those who ride motorbikes as if the road belongs to their grandfathers!


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