Hello. I believe you are now familiar with an automatic car with which you are learning to drive. As I hinted in the first lesson, remember that if you learn and pass your driving test with an automatic car, you are not legally permitted to drive a manual car. Whereas, if you learn with a manual car and pass your test with same, you are qualified to also drive an automatic car. The choice is yours.
In this edition, the goal is for you to move an automatic car, I mean to actually find yourself moving a car. You would get there so long as you follow every instruction I serve you here. I believe you are now familiar with all necessary controls in your automatic car.
Note that this lesson is not a substitute to hiring a driving instructor. Rather it is meant to enable you to leanr quicker so that you spend less in training with an instructor. For the longer it takes you to catch up, the more you would spend. Now let us get down to the main business. Moving the car.
Moving An Automatic Car
As a first timer, to safely move an automatic car for the first time, please strictly follow the following steps:
Get in: Open the door and get behind the deriving wheel.
Adjust Driving seat: Adjust the driving seat, ensuring your foot could reach both pedals. As you must have learnt in the first lesson, remember you require only the right foot to drive an automatic car. Acceleration pedal is on the right and brake pedal on the left. Never use your left foot.
Adjust Mirrors: Adjust the inner mirror so that you can see directly behind the rear windshield. Also adjust the two outside mirrors to enable you to see through either side of the vehicle. In setting the side mirrors, ensure they are positioned further outer than usual so that they overlap with the viewing angle of the inner mirror so that you can see cars in the blind spots, which ordinarily you would only have been able to see, looking over your shoulder.
Set The Shift Lever: Ensure the shift lever is on “P” (Park Mode).
If your shift lever is positioned on “R”( reverse) and you start the car, even without accelerating, the car will automatically move backward, once you take your foot off the brake or maybe your foot is not on the brake at all. That situation can be risky. Disastrous.
If the Lever is on “D” (Drive mode” and you start the engine without pressing down the foot brake, the car will automatically move forward. Under that circumstance, a novice would loose control. And that could lead to fatal accident. For the car would turn to a weapon, moving on its own, destroying anything on its way. Life of the novice driver behind the wheel too might be in danger. I am trying to scare you. All one is saying is that as sweet as driving is, only way to enjoy the sweetness is to follow all driving instructions and safety precautions. If you have been following Motoring World News reports online, you would have read about our exclusive report about a mother and two children, who were almost crushed to death at Ado-Ekiti by an amateur driver, who lost control of an automatic SUV, which drove into a shop. Before starting the engine, therefore, it is safer to ensure that the gear lever is on “P” mode.
Press Brake Pedal: With your right foot, press down the foot brake(left pedal).
It is not FRSC-Let-Me-Go, as many Nigerian motorists see it. In fact, there are certain states in Nigeria, where driving without using seat belt constitute motoring offence. In many other parts of the world, for instance United Kingdom, using your seat belt, when driving is a standard. A driver intuitively uses it, not until he or she sees the police.
But then, dear learner, make use of seat belt part of your driving life. For it is in your own interest. So have you put it on now? Good.
Start The Engine: Insert the key into ignition, turning it clockwise to start the engine. Depending on model and how modern a vehicle is, starting the engine would require turning the ignition across two or three levels. It stops at each level and something happens. For instance for most vehicles, turning the ignition key across first level switches on all dashboard indicators. And when you turn it further the engine rolls and get started. Whereas for certain cars, turning the key first time would switch on the radio. Further turn switched on all dashboard indicators and third further turning switches on the engine. Once the engine starts, you need to release the key so that it returns. If the car is being started after parked overnight or for sa couple of hours, you need to allow the engine to idle for about 30 seconds before accelerating. This is to allow engine oil to circulate through essential parts of the engine.
Steering Control: Hold the steering with both hands. Imagine the staeering wheel as a clock. Your left hand must be where “9” is on a clock. While your right hand should hold the steering where “3” normally is on a clock.
Push Lever to “D”: Now you are about to move the car! Push the lever from Park mode to D(Drive) mode, while your right foot still presses down the foot brake.
Move The Car: Gently lift off your right foot from the brake pedal. What happens, the car automatically begins forward movement, even without pressing the acceleration pedal. See? There you are!
NOTE: If you are moving the car for the first time, you are better off beginning these processes on an open field, if you car find one. If not, you would still be fine, following strictly all the instructions given at every stage, and better still having an experienced licensed driver by your side.
Steering Control: Now that you are moving the car, you need to steer the steering towards desired directions. Once learned, it’s one thing that a driver get used to and do as automatically as blinking your eyes. As you hold the steering based on a clock’s “9” and “3” positioning, all you need do is turning it slightly in the direction you want to move. If turning slightly, ensure your hands are still kept on “9” and “3” positions.
Acceleration: As a starter, you car increase the car’s speed by slightly pressing the acceleration pedal with your right foot. But remember. If the speed is getting too fast or more than what you think you can control or your foot pressed the acceleration pedal more than necessary(which a learner can sometimes experience), solution is lift off your foot from the acceleration pedal and place it on the brake pedal(by the left), press down the brake pedal to slow the car down or bring it to outright stop. You are in control. Don’t panic. Don’t loose control, especially of the steering.
Stopping the Car: If you are done and decide to stop the car, apply the brake as explained above. Once the car stops, don’t lift your foot from the brake until you disengage the gear lever from the Drive Mode(D) and push it to “N”(Neutral position, if you still intend to do more practice or P (Park mode) if you are done.
Notwithstanding, this is how far I shall be cruising with you in this edition of driving lessons. Next edition, I shall take you through how to reverse an automatic car. Meanwhile, be careful out there. Always remember that pedestrians are part of motoring world. Stop for them, whenever they step on zebra crossing. It’s criminal to knock down a pedestrian on zebra crossing. Know this and get used to it.