Sat 23 Jul, 2022 12:15 am
Warning for graphic depiction of near car accident.
I'm a 20yo canadian female with just about 50 hours under my belt.
For my 8th driving lesson with a duo control automobile, my instructor challenged me to drive around shopping centres at peak hour.
It was going well, with only a few minor hiccups because I was stiff and nervous since there were more cars than usual, and because my driving instructor was encouraging me to go faster through small and tight-ish roundabouts (I normally go about 40 through those because I'm a afraid to bump the curbs and islands).
But, as we pulled up to the biggest and most populated shopping centre in my city, things began to get out of hand.
I was in a merging lane and had to merge left, but there was an impatient car riding along my side who wouldn't make room and as we began to approach the green light in front of the merging lane, I could already feel my anxiety building.
Eventually, after a lot of slow moving and practically stopping, we let the stubborn car move ahead and I had to awkwardly try to squeeze into the merging lane. My driving instructor began telling me off, and I explain that because the car was at might side we couldn't merge without bumping into it.
Then, this is all where it went downhill.
As we approached the intersection, my instructor says "Speed up", I sped up. The light was green.
I was going about 58, and then bam, about 1 meter from the light it turns orange. I panic because its a major intersection AND it has a red light camera, so I slam on the breaks.
Immediately as we stop I'm beating myself up for slamming on the breaks because I KNOW there are cars behind me and it was stupid of me to stop suddenly. But, at this split moment, I think we're in the clear, I made a mistake but nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged.
I've only just suppressed a panic over the idea of being rear-ended when all of a sudden my instructor says, "Foot off the break and go forward!"
Still panicked, I recognise the new issue, we've stopped over the line and are slightly poking out into the intersection, my instructor wants to commit and drive through. I don't think we should, however he is the instructor.
I take my foot off the pedals entirely and he resumes control, and we roll forward again before we stop again, this time in the near middle of the intersection. At this point, the light is red and there is traffic going 60-75 on their way.
He shouts, "Foot off the break!" and grabs the wheel.
I want to say, "my foot isn't on the break!", but I'm frozen in fear.
I can't hear anything and I can't see anything.
All that is going through my mind is the image of a car T-boning us, T-boning the drivers side, me, and it being all my fault, because I was too slow, too stupid. I stare stupidly at the steering wheel.
My instructor accelerates off of the intersection with a screech and now that we're in the clear zone, the adrenaline rush fades and the panic attack sets in.
I'm barely holding it together when my instructor turns to me and says, "You made an extremely idiotic mistakes, we could've caused a major accident and we were forced through a red light, I might get a ticket and you might loose your licence."
I'm terrified and suddenly i'm hyperventilating, I actually even feel /urine/ leak into my underwear and I'm mortified, panicking even more. I can't breath, and my head is light, I'm choking on air for air.
After a while, I calm down enough to suppress my panic and my instructor tells me to "just drive back to the school safely."
I barely finish the trip back, we have to pull over twice because I break into hyperventilation and tears after making minor mistakes along the way, high strung and terrified.
I never want to drive again, the thought of that helpless moment, being stuck in the intersection for those brief moments with traffic rushing towards us. The guilt, the panic, I can't do it.
I almost think I'm too unsafe for the roads. I don't want to be causing accidents but I have 50 hours, I should know better by now than to make mistakes like this. I'm humiliated and ashamed. I don't ever want to get on the roads again but my family will never let me give up on my licence.
I don't know if I should try again, or if the road's better off without me on it.
I don't want to cause an accident because I panic again.
What should I do?
First things first. Get a different driving instructor.
Roger's right, you should have somebody teaching you how to drive, not petrify you thru shouting.
Shame on your “ instructor” who failed to read your experience/confidence level and put you into a traffic level above your ability right now.
Continue to practice driving and slowly move into more congested traffic at off peak hours.
I don’t go out from 3:30 to 7 pm if I can help it around here.
When I was teaching my kids to drive, we went to large parking lots on Sunday mornings when they were empty and just drove around, stayed in the lines, parked, backed up, etc. Before going to malls with lots of distractions and moving cars, do the same thing in a low risk environment.
I work with high school aged students many with anxiety - you are not much older. The instructor was completely in the wrong. I would reach out to the school and ask for someone in charge. Explain what happened and you need an instructor that is better suited to react calmly.
You did nothing wrong. You are not a bad driver, just an inexperienced one. Everyone learns at different levels and you obviously was not ready for this level of driving and he handled in such a way that made the situation worse.
Tell the driving school they either need to refund your money or give you an instructor with much more experience and patience. Let them know you will need to start again slowly due to the anxiety you experienced from this instructor.
And if you get another instructor like that - one that yells or causes more issues, pull over somewhere safely and get out of the car.