Growing up, knowing how to drive has always been a huge responsibility in my eyes. As a little girl, I’ve always wanted to learn because driving could get you places in life and it gave you a type of freedom. Watching my older brother and his experiences in driving gave me motivation to want to learn already. I remember when my brother took his behind the wheel test he was nervous but ready. He passed his first time and that gave me a spark of inspiration to start reading the rules and signs of the road at an early age. I would tell my mom “I’m going to be ready for that test!” I don’t know why I really thought my thirteen year old brain would be prepared for a permit test. My mom explained to me the process into getting my driver’s license and I also remember thinking to myself that it would be a piece of cake and I would have it as soon as possible.
Of course though, I procrastinated and got my driver’s license a couple of months after I turned eighteen. My older brother got his a month after he turned eighteen. I also procrastinated in studying for my permit test. I was taking practice tests and watching YouTube videos on the questions and answers in while waiting in line. At the time, I didn’t need to know how to drive, just the rules of the road. However, since I passed my permit test, I was able to drive with an adult with a license. In that case, I practiced driving with my mom or dad in the car. My mom expected a lot more from me than my dad did. She was harder on me and her tone of voice would become feisty. I get that she wanted me to take this seriously, she wanted me to be careful, and she didn’t want me to fuck up but I did not enjoy her teaching me. Not following the rules of the road could cause in me or another person being in an accident. She cared too much which isn’t always a bad thing but I wish she had understood that I was learning and was not familiar with some signs and rules. Also, it takes practice to accurately know how much you need to press on the brake and pedal. She always gave me shit for it because I sucked at braking. Learning to drive with my mom was tough love but I did get something from it. She constantly told me “You need to be careful when you drive because your life and someone else’s is at risk.”
Driving with my dad on the other hand was better for my learning experience because he was calm and patient with me and demanding when he needed to be. We would practice in Mentone because the roads were pretty long, there weren’t many cars, no traffic and very few traffic lights. We mostly practiced on my turning and my parking. When parking, using your mirrors and knowing the dimension of the car was very important. Since I wasn’t used to using my mirrors, that took me the most practice.We drove around some neighborhoods and drove in the REV parking lot. We were driving around pretty slow and for a while in the same neighborhoods. I remember we parked in front of a nice house and this guy came out and was looking at our car so I took action and left. I remember my dad said “He probably thinks we’re planning to rob him.” but in spanish. He constantly reminded me to check my mirrors and look over my shoulders. Looking over my shoulders was something new to me, which is also known as checking your blind spot. This reduces the chance of hitting a car when I change lanes. Little by little I was progressing and we started going to where there was more cars. Of course I was nervous but since my dad understood what it felt like to be in my place, that was everything to me. It got easier to remember to start the car and check my mirrors. Every now and then I would drive with my mom but most of the time it was with my dad. Now, I just do it without even thinking about it. It just becomes a habit and a lot of drivers can relate to that too.
I’ve always considered enrolling in driving school but it was expensive. My mom would always tell me “You should wait until you are old enough to receive your permit and then get your license at eighteen.” Even though I wish I had my driver’s license, it was nice to have a couple days left without making errands. Times I needed to have my driver’s license the most was when it would be time to get picked up from soccer practice. I played soccer for my highschool and I would feel embarrassed that I didn’t have my license. All the seniors and juniors had their license and “there I am” just another procrastinator. My friend Karina, who I was always with during soccer, also helped me with driving. She gave me advice on what to do when a certain situation happens and how to parallel park. She told me which DMVs were worth going and which weren’t. It was worth going to the DMV in Redlands rather than the one in Banning because in Banning, the streets were difficult to read. Karina said “You can’t see the lines for shit and the road is so bad.” Even though at the DMV in Redlands always has traffic, it’s better to go there. She had her license for a little over a year and most of my other friends didn’t so she was the go to person about driving anyways.
When she told me about parallel parking, she said “You need to pull up next to the car that will be in front of you and constantly check your rear view mirrors. You need to turn the wheel all the way to the right, if you want to park on the right side, then start going in reverse and adjust whatever you need to start closing in.” She mentioned that it takes a lot of patience and that you need to know the dimension of the car. Exactly what my dad said. To know the dimensions of your car is important because that will help a lot with knowing how much space you have left. The people who have helped me played an important part in my learning experience. Everyday I’m thankful to be able to drive because it gets me to places and I will be able to teach and give advice to someone who needs it.