Thursday, September 22, 2016

Alex's Week 8 Driving Lessons - City Driving




Song:  Theme from 'The Mod Squad'

(I used to love watching this show).



This week's driving lessons included more left turns...
blind curves, pedestrians and cyclists in high numbers and close quarters...
a circumnavigation of the whole city of Reno at night...
and driving Reno with a festival changing the traffic patterns downtown.




We practiced more blind curves.

Once again...
I had him completely stop behind the line...
and then creep out until he could see around the blind curve...
and stop...clear all avenues (left, center, and right)...
and then, and only then...go.

By the way...
this is the kind of lunacy which angers me every time I see it.

Blind curves at intersections are inexcusable because they are preventable
with just common sense at the city planner's office.

There should always be set back from corners to allow drivers to fully see up and down
the cross streets.  Not being able to puts pedestrians and other drivers
at a highly preventable and unnecessary risk.

This is just one of the reasons I hate driving in the city.

I get frustrated seeing blind curves...
decreasing radius turns...
poorly placed cross walks...
incredibly stupid light patterns which put pedestrians at risk...
along with drivers...
and so many other things which frustrate me every time I see them...
because I know the reason behind the decisions.

The priority is not one of safety.

It is one of expediency...
temporary cost savings...
and a longer term income increase
because of zoned square footage taxes.

It is one of politicians overruling the engineers.

This is something that should never happen.

Safety can be engineered to a much higher level every where...
you just have to have the last word going to the engineers.


In order to properly clear this blind curve...
the front of the car has to protrude into the cross traffic's number one lane.


As I had Alex drive in the busiest areas of Reno...
I had him constantly scan for pedestrians and cyclists.

We turned on to the main drag between the many casinos.

There were many people crossing where they weren't supposed to...
some were staggering...others were numbskulls.

There were also idiotic cyclists riding in the car lanes...
and an overall area of highly unpredictable behavior from everyone.

I had Alex drive here to practice his peripheral vision scanning.

In the city...
there is too much going on at once to concentrate on any one area.

He has to drive in scan mode...
always on the alert for anomalies of motion
as presented either in speed or direction...
or both.



For a couple of days...
I had Alex combine areas of his driving to include the past two weeks' learning areas.

A downtown festival had changes the traffic patterns...
so I had him make a much larger driving learning area.


On one night...
I had Alex circumnavigate the city of Reno.

There is one expressway which forms a complete circle around Reno.








Alex had a stressful week of city driving...
so, I decided to give him a relaxing night of easy night driving.

--------------

This week's driving lesson will be more city driving.

While Alex is still learning to drive in peripheral scan mode...
I want to reinforce this necessary skill while it is fresh in his mind.


On today's drive...
we drove in the city...
and then to a shopping area.

Within our one hour lesson...
one car had run a red light (next to us)...
two cars in quick succession
had run a yield sign in a roundabout (they should have yielded to Alex)...
and just a few miles from home...
an incredibly stupid person had run a stop sign in front of us
(cross traffic to Alex's right...he would have hit us had he not...
at the last moment, looked to see us AS HE WAS RUNNING THE STOP SIGN...
and then hit his brakes).

This numbskull had made up his mind to run the stop sign from the beginning...
and then, just as an after thought...
decided to look our way.

I had seen he was going too fast and I had told Alex to look out.

Alex had also seen him and had reacted appropriately
by braking and turning left.


As I have been explaining to Alex...
were everyone to follow the traffic rules...
there would be very few accidents.

It is because of the numbskulls that he must constantly guard against
those who's driving defies all logic.

Every light and stop sign is a potential death trap...
and so, he must scan for light or stop sign runners before entering the intersection.

Every yield sign is an opportunity for a numbskull to not yield...
and so, Alex must monitor to ensure the other driver slows and yields...
before entering the merge zone.


Although, directly following each of these incidents...
 the movie of my mind involved me playing a drum solo...
with their heads being the drums...
I was glad that these had happened with me being an extra pair of eyes.

This allowed Alex to directly experience the driving habits of a numbskull...
and exactly why he MUST drive defensively.


Simply put...
a safe driver is a great observer...
and a great forward planner.

By keeping a safe following distance...
and by driving as much in the bubble as possible...
he is allowing as much reaction time as possible.

By clearing all blind curves beforehand...
and by using peripheral vision scanning for any speed or directional anomalies
in the city, and at all intersections or merge points...
he can prevent himself from becoming the victim of a numbskull.


--------


This weekend...
Alex will be driving us just beyond Sacramento, California.

We will be attending a symposium.

This will give more mountain and city driving to Alex.

The driving time roundtrip should be about 6 - 7 hours.











2 comments:

  1. As I read about Alex's driving lessons, I cannot help but think about whether my son would be capable of driving. Many of the challenges you presented in this week's lessons with Alex would be among the most difficult parts of driving for my son. He has a lot of difficulty adjusting to unexpected events and is still learning to deal with frustrations without getting overly upset. Do these "numbskull" behaviors from other drivers bother Alex? Is he able to keep calm and deal with the situation and go on?

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  2. Actually, I am the one who has a difficult time controlling his anger. Alex is far more composed, so far as outward expression of emotion. Alex and I are pretty opposite in this manner. Alex is very cautious and he rarely displays anger. I have to push him in situations at times since he is so cautious. My biggest fear is that he will freeze in an emergency... however, he is doing well in this respect, and he will continue to get better with experience. I am the opposite. I can be very impulsive, and I tend to explode emotionally with too much going on. However, both types of personalities can become good drivers with a lot of practice. The key is mastering the basics through repetition until driving becomes automatic...and through always practicing the principles of safety while driving. Just plan on taking much more time teaching each lesson, and focus on certain principles until they become automatic. By the time I finish teaching Alex how to drive, I will have spent 10 to 20 times the number of hours most teens ever get in guided lessons before they get their licenses. So, to answer your question...yes, Alex is doing very well in keeping calm and making the correct decisions and continuing on to the next situation without getting flustered. Daily practice prevents backsliding of skills, and sets the stage for the solidification of these skills so they become automatic. The key is, as a teacher, adapting to the learning speed of the student. The formula remains the same...it is always the quantity of quality practice which leads to mastery. It is up to the teacher to adapt the quantity to the student so the quality never suffers. A cake may be eaten in many small bites over many days if necessary. The key is to finish each cake and ensuring complete digestion before baking another.

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