Driving – Word of the Week

This week my word of the week just has to be driving. I didn’t pick up my new car until Wednesday but I had the wobbles on Tuesday. The last car that I drove I had after not driving for two years and I thought that was nerve wracking, but this was much, much worse. This time I would be driving without using my feet.

I picked up the car and was surprised, and dismayed when I was told there would be no lesson on how to use the hand controls. I was given a booklet to use and a number to call for a driving instructor. Then sent on my way, in a new car, not knowing what on earth I was doing, all the way home.

The journey home was about three miles and I honestly don’t know how I did it, but I did. I’ve watched tons of You Tube videos and talked to other hand drivers so I wasn’t completely in the dark, but it’s different watching a video to doing it yourself. When I got home, safely, I cried.

My first instincts where to send it back.

Then I thought, well the only way to learn is to keep trying. It’s not that I couldn’t drive it, I managed to get it home after all, it was just how different it all felt. I read my booklet, sat in the car and familiarised myself with everything. I adjusted my seat and my mirrors until I felt comfortable, then I started the engine and played around with the controls, like it said in the booklet. Then I drove around our grove, and again, and again. The neighbours were beginning to get a bit wary of me driving around like that but it was a brilliant way of just getting used to how things worked. I felt more confident so went off for a little drive around the neighbourhood, rather than just our grove. I managed fairly well, at least my steering was good even if I wasn’t really getting up to speed.

The next day I decided to venture a little further, first up was the garage as I was running out of petrol. When we pulled up at the pump it felt weird giving my OH my card to pay, before, he would fill my car up while I went in to pay. I can’t do that anymore so he has to do both. I did notice that the pumps had instructions for disabled users on how to get help to fill up. I’ve used this garage hundreds of times but never noticed these signs before, isn’t it strange how you only see what’s relevant to you?

Then we went off to visit OH’s mum which is about four and half miles away, including a busy shopping town and a duel carriageway. This is when I decided that I had to get a little speed up and I managed quite well despite my nerves. It’s difficult when you are doing something completely unfamiliar in a familiar surrounding. My right foot was becoming very agitated and reaching out for the accelerator, but I know it won’t work (my foot not the accelerator) so I just had to keep it back as far as I could. There was one incident after I’d stopped the car to park and the car  engine was revving, my OH  asked what I was doing and I looked down and it was my foot! I hadn’t even felt it. After that I kept it tucked back under the seat, if it becomes a problem I can have the pedals flipped up, but I’m hoping that OH will be able to drive it when he passes his test (next month!) My left foot is no problem because it’s bloomin’ useless, it just stays in place immobile.

I came home the long way, facing traffic lights, moving into slow moving traffic from a side road, going around several islands and another duel carriageway. By the time I got home I felt totally at ease with the hand controls, but I was still getting used to the car. I’ve not driven an automatic before and it ‘feels’ quite different. Also, I’m still learning how the car drives, how fast it accelerates and how strong the breaks are…yes, watch out for wiplash! Overall, I’m feeling much happier and confident…freedom awaits.

For those not familiar, here is my steering wheel.

It’s not the best shot but you can see the ‘knob’ I have so I can steer one handed. This is vital because my right hand is in constant use. Look at the right hand side of the steering wheel and you may be able to notice a metal bar, this is my accelerator and brake. At the end of the bar lying just under the steering wheel is a foam handle which I have to push to brake and pull to accelerate…that alone is hard to get used to. Also on the handle is a little switch which works my indicators…but they don’t turn off automatically. When cruising at speed, like on a motorway, I can hook my thumb over the steering wheel for comfort while holding the accelerator, it really is comfortable doing this, but no so good when you have to keep steering. The pedals still work as a normal automatic car. apart from the knob and the bar you can’t see that the car is adapted, it’s quite discreet.

One thing I have noticed though, it’s hard to wave to someone in another car who has given way to you. To do this I would have to take my hand off the steering wheel, when I’m working it one handed or take my hand off the accelerator, both quite impossible. I’m going to have to perfect a big nod and grin instead.

I’m also having trouble with the windscreen wipers and ordinary indicators, but I’m sure I’ll get used to those in time. At least I have my little indicator switch for now.

The Reading Residence


  1. September 2, 2016 / 6:26 am

    You have a YETI! I love my YETI we got ours a year ago. I think you have done amazingly well learning how to drive this way. I hadn't driven for a while so I was nervous as they have six gears. I'm sure it will take time to get used to it. We have controls on our steering wheel just for the radio and I'm getting used to them still. I won't even go near the cruise control option. It must be great having the freedom of a car again. I love it when I have my car days. Perhaps your partner could wave thanks to the other drivers when needed, I do this all the time when I'm in the passenger seat lol Enjoy your YETI #WotW

  2. September 2, 2016 / 7:56 am

    We actually went to get an Octavia, but I couldn't get in and out very easily (And not by myself) so we were suggested the Yeti, which I loved but the OH not so, so I let him choose the colour. He's getting good at waving at people for me. I remember before thinking people were so rude when they didn't wave. I never event thought about those that would have trouble moving their hands.

  3. Dean B
    September 2, 2016 / 8:23 am

    Well done to you for being so brave! I guess in time you'll get used to the new car, but I'm a bit annoyed with them that they didn't even bother to at least demonstrate how the car is used, or helped you do a test-drive so they'll know if the car suits your needs. #wotw

  4. September 2, 2016 / 9:58 am

    You are doing so well! I would have been so nervous, too, but you've persevered and it sounds like it is paying off. Go perfect that grin! Thanks for sharing with #WotW x

  5. liquoriceuk
    September 2, 2016 / 10:05 am

    Wow I can imagine that it must take quite some getting used to having hand controls but well done for gaining confidence in the car. That first time must have been incredibly nerve-wracking – especially having been thrown in the deep end like that. #WotW

  6. September 2, 2016 / 11:47 am

    Oh wow! I am so pleased for you! I thought they would have given you a quick lesson on how to drive it but well done you for being so brave….It sounds like you are getting the hang of driving! I hope you have lots of adventures x

  7. September 2, 2016 / 1:02 pm

    Lovely to hear that you're getting on with your new car! Great that you've got used it. Enjoy! #wotw

  8. angiemwebster77
    September 3, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    So pleased you finally have your new car and good on you for not giving up, best of luck to your hubby for his test. #WotW

  9. September 6, 2016 / 10:12 am

    I was reading this post with my heart in my mouth at the start! It's amazing that you managed to drive it away with just a manual in your hand and having watched some YouTube videos. You're a brave woman for doing so, and clearly determined.
    It must feel good to have a car and the freedom it gives and I'm sure you'll be used to it in no time
    Happy driving!

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