My 6th lesson consisted of learning how to do uphill and downhill starts as well as unintentionally going around several roundabouts and managing to find four types of speed bumps (who knew there were so many types in such a small area!). The lesson once again began by just driving around and we quickly went to a different area which I have never been to before, so I had no knowledge of the roads. Today I realised that I change to 2nd gear really quickly after pulling off…1st gear really isn’t very nice to drive in!
I pulled up on a hill and as the roads were busy I needed to put my indicator on to show I had stopped. Matt explained how to do an uphill start in less than a minute and then told me to have a go. I’d heard what he had said but wasn’t sure my brain had absorbed how to actually do the uphill start. After a minute of sitting there trying to figure out what to do I finally pulled off without stalling or rolling backwards!! Another thing I did a lot while driving around today was put the car out of gear. I haven’t ever done this before but I noticed I was doing it when I was trying to find the biting point and the clutch came completely up and nothing had happened.....awkward! To do an uphill start you have to put your clutch down, ensure the car is in 1st gear (it should already be in this gear), find the biting point and put a tiny bit of pressure on the accelerator, and then releasing the handbrake when you’re ready to go. Obviously when you release the handbrake you also need to slowly come off your clutch and put more pressure on the accelerator. It’s really important to make sure the clutch is high enough otherwise you will roll backwards. If you are pulling off from the side of the road the usual safety checks must be done and mirrors must be checked with both uphill and downhill starts. I continued for about 100 metres and was on the same hill when I stopped again to try the uphill start again. Again I managed to do it without rolling backwards or stalling but the third time I tried it, I ended up rolling backwards. In a way I was happy that I did this so early on, as now I know that the clutch was a little bit too low so I know to bring it a bit higher in future.
I found downhill starts a bit more complicated than uphill starts as there are more steps involved, but there is probably a smaller chance of stalling. I only had 2 practices of downhill starts as the way I had driven meant the route had more uphill sections. The strangest thing about a downhill start is that they are done in 2nd gear (the only other time you start in 2nd gear is in the snow). They can also be done in 1st gear if the hill isn’t steep but I was shown to do it in second gear for the time being. To do a downhill start you put the clutch down like normal and push the brake pedal right down too. When you have done the safety checks, release the handbrake and then find the biting point of the clutch. When you want to move off slowly release the brake and roll for a few metres before slowly releasing the clutch as normal. I found it weird releasing the handbrake before the car was ready to move off but I suppose this is something that will become second nature after a while. One thing that I accidentally did during both uphill and downhill starts from the side of the road was forget to turn off my indicator when I pulled away. This meant I was still indicating left to show I was stopping, when in fact I was actually moving into the traffic. This is just something extra to check before you pull off but it’s really important that it’s turned off to so you don’t confuse other drivers around you.
I also encountered speed bumps for the first time during this lesson. After I’d been over one they seemed to be on every single road I turned down! After managing to find four types of speed bumps in the space of an hour, I’ve come to the conclusion that the broken speed bumps (made up of 3 individual bumps in a line across the road) are the worst. But if you take your time when going over them and brake gently, they aren’t really a problem. The drive back home was much more enjoyable. The roads are busier, which I much prefer rather than driving down narrow roads trying to dodge parked cars on both sides of the road!