Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fender Bender

So, I got in a little fender bender today. More like a fender tapper, because my fender didn't get screwed up at all and neither did the other guy's, but still, our cars made contact. On its own this wouldn't be a big deal, except that such situations seem to crop up on me with much greater frequency than they do most people. I can't remember the last time I drove without getting beeped at (I hate ending sentences with a preposition, so I'm inserting this little aside to solve that problem). Before you start cursing all the jerks out there, like my mom did, let me say that I'm the queen of cutting people off when I change lanes. By the time I turn and look, someone's beeping at me. Without fail. I get beeped at a lot when I'm in unfamiliar areas, and usually I don't know why. Oh, and did I mention that I don't always notice when the guy in front of me is stopping or about to turn, and I frequently have to slam on my breaks?

Considering I've been driving for, what, 6 years, and 5 of them on my own, I should be well past this stage. I can see if I were a new driver, but I'm not that new.

This all comes to down to one big thing: I shouldn't be driving. I can't manage to simultaneously pay attention to enough different things such as is required in driving. It makes sense, really. I definitely struggle with attention issues (I'm great at asking you a question, then responding with, "Wait, I forgot to listen to the answer."). I struggle with visual and auditory perception. Why wouldn't I struggle with driving.

But I have to drive. As much as work makes me panic, without it I can't move out. No driving means no work means no moving out, and that's bad. I need to move out. Also, the research study that I'm in for the next year and a half requires driving to get there. Mom says that if I give up driving, my world will become very, very small. She's not making this decision any easier. She also acts like it's my fault I'm such a bad driver, and I know it's not. I'm just naturally terrible at it for the above-mentioned reasons.

Advice appreciated. I certainly don't know what to do.


  1. I don't know if this in an option where you live, but I don't drive (personal/ financial descision) and get around using public transit. There's no stress drivingwise, and the bus driver, unlike me, doesn't get lost!

  2. That would be the most obvious answer, but I live 5 miles from the nearest bus stop, unfortunately.

  3. I think what your mom says is true. Giving up driving - where you live - would make your world smaller.

    Is there a way you can practice? I remember in one of Temple Grandin's books her description of how she learned to drive and got comfortable behind the wheel. I can't remember the story now, but it might be worth looking up. I also see these defensive driving courses all of the time, can you take one? Or is there someone you can drive with for the purpose of practicing so you just get more comfortable?

    Maybe you can figure out how to improve your driving skills. It will help your confidence, too!

    Good luck!

  4. Temple Grandin's mention of driving is on pages 231-233 in The Way I See It. She went on the dirt paths in her aunt's ranch.

    She mentioned, also, bike-riding, and said (as a general rule) that if a child can ride a bike safely with judgement and everything.

    Gimky's idea about defensive driving is very good as well.

  5. I like what has been suggested. They are good practical ideas. I thought of something that works for me when I am about to drive somewhere that I am not used to, that might work for you.

    I map where I am going using the street directory or a map on Google...whatever works. Then I work out what lane I need to be in for my exits, turns etc. I just make sure that I stay in the lane that I need to be in regardless of how the traffic is flowing in other lanes. Of course, I don't stay in the fast lane if that is the lane where the turn is. What I do in that situation is work out beforehand by looking at the map when I need to change lanes. That way I am prepared and can concentrate on the timing when I get to it.

    I just find that this makes the trip less anxious (yes I get pretty controlling when I am anxious).

    If this is a trip that you take a lot, it may help to know exactly when you are going to absolutely need to change lanes and really concentrate at that point rather than having the anxiety of moving around the lanes a lot.

    I hope this helps, otherwise disregard it. Cheers....Meredith