Driving with Dad

One of my most vivid memories from childhood is sitting in the backseat of a dark green Maruti 800 with my parents in the front seat. Dad driving us to and from everywhere. The not so great, rocky roads in small town Assam did not make for lovely rides, but spending time with Mom and Dad and talking about everything under the Sun did.

As I was grew up, my father started driving lesser each year; partly because of his health and partly because his new positions allowed him to have a driver at his service around the clock. But even then I remember my father sharing little tid-bits about driving with me. We were driving over the Sarai Ghat bridge that helps you cross the mighty Brahmaputra in Guwahati, when he taught me that you should never overtake a car on a bridge. It was from sitting next to him and yawning away that I took away the lesson of not sleeping next to the driver- EVER. He was the first person who put me behind the wheel of a car and taught me the right to left ABC rule and the importance of a neutral gear. And that is how many people I know started to drive.

Today, being in the same car as Dad and driving is not as encouraging as it was. Because now, I’m the driver and Dad sitting next to me makes me more nervous than the traffic policeman flagging me down. But he was first teacher for driving amongst other things.

To swap notes on the wisdom of dear dads, I spoke to some fellow drivers and here’s what I unearthed.

Cheatsheet to Driving by Dads all over:

  • “Stay calm and stay alive”.
  • “When you’re just learning, drive everywhere. And do not tell yourself I can’t if your car stops once or twice in the middle of the road”. (#ItHappenedToMe)
  • “As soon as you can, learn to handle the steering wheel with one hand; the other should be on the gear at all times”.
  • “The car should never jerk when you press the brakes. When it does, it isn’t a sign of a good driver”.
  • “Always slow down before any turn or bump”. (This actually applies to real life too)
  • “When your feet are on the accelerator, break, or clutch, your heels should touch down or you will feel more jerks”.
  • “When you drive in the city the wheels of the car in front of you should always be visible, so that you have enough distance to brake and react”.
  • “Everyone on the road is a fool. You’re the only smart one. It’s a race where you have to save your car from being hit, even if it means driving slow”.
  • “Pedestrians are like mortal Gods. They can randomly appear out of thin air, play with the rules, but you have to make sure not to kill them”.

And then there are “good habits” I learnt by observing regular drivers on metro city roads in India

  • If somebody honks at me, he is reminding me to speed up
  • If I have to turn right, I must overtake the slower vehicle from left
  • I don’t need the side view mirror, why do car manufacturers include this accessory
  • I must not let there be more than 5 centimetres of space between the next vehicle, lest a biker may appear

No doubt, driving is a thankless activity but there are always rules as to what is considered safe driving. I have come to realize that following my Dad’s advice might delay me by 5 minutes but does provide me a safer route home

Would request you to share your favourite driving tips in the comments below

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