Do you know your vehicle?
One of the things I’ve noticed from many drivers is their lack of understanding of their vehicle’s length. I witness many drivers backing out of their parking space with a lot of room behind them, but they stop short and move forward while trying to leave their space. Since they don’t know their vehicle very well, they usually stop very early from the vehicle in front of them as well. They end up doing a 9, 11 or 13 point turn to leave their space. Why didn’t they know the dimensions of their vehicle? Wouldn’t it make sense to know roughly where their front and rear bumpers are when they’re doing low speed maneuvers?
At Young Drivers of Canada, we teach each of our students an exercise to allow them to know when their front and rear bumpers have reached a target; such as a parking lot line; so they can properly do low speed skills such as 3 point turns, parallel parking and stall parking in a parking space. It lets them know when to stop their vehicle before reaching a curb, fence, garage door, etc. It seems to also build up the confidence of the student and make these skills easier to do.
My office window overlooks a parking lot and I can see these problems happen almost every day. It even becomes amusing when I watch these drivers make something that can be so simple turn into a difficult and stressful event. There have been times when I was so tempted to give the driver my business card so they can overcome this problem. One time, while I was training new instructors, we witnessed a courier do an 11 point turn outside of our Young Drivers of Canada office. Talk about stressful for that driver when they realized from the logo on our jacket that we were all driving instructors. I think that may have added to his frustration. I don’t recall seeing that courier around our office any time after that.
I do try to help these drivers when I’m walking by them, but quite often they don’t trust me. I tell them they have 10 feet behind them, but they stop and select drive and move up another foot. That’s all they seem to do though; move back and forth about a foot at a time. This also happened when I tried to help someone parallel park. They refused my help, but spent 15 minutes trying to get into a space that could have been done in 60 seconds. Oh well.
Most of the drivers I dealt with during my time as a judge on Discovery Network’s Canada’s Worst Driver didn’t really understand where their vehicle was. Part of the process on that show is for the participants to do a driving challenge, based on their own ability. Now you may be asking; what ability? Some had very little skill to do these challenges, but after they completed the challenge, I offered some in-car training and they were then able to perform the skill associated with that challenge. They were extremely happy and grateful they were now able to become a better driver; at least when it came to driving low speed skills.