How to learn to drive a car without having a car

Self-driving car facts

  • Without prioritizing safety over speed and convenience, it is estimated only ⅓ of driver-error car crashes can be overcome with driverless vehicles. (IIHS)
  • It is estimated that self-driving cars can free up to 50 minutes per day dedicated to driving. (McKinsey & Company)
  • Just 34% of Americans consider autonomous car advantages outweigh potential disadvantages, with 20% stating there is no safe way for fully autonomous vehicles.(PAVE)

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  • A convenient way of commuting

Driverless cars will eliminate drivers from experiencing fatigue. And with integrated maps guiding the car as a default mechanism, getting lost or getting stuck in the wrong location will be a thing of the past.

  • Better technology means more advantages

Driverless tech largely comprises of sensors and AI software systems that can perceive road conditions, weather conditions, and the overall environment in a more efficient and swift manner than humans can.

This includes seeing farther ahead in conditions of poor visibility and detecting smaller obstacles that may go unnoticed by humans.

Additionally, since several cameras are required to aid the propulsion system, self-driving cars will be able to judge blind spots with ease.

This will make them more aware and vigilant than a human driver.

Furthermore, highway speed limits could be increased, given the higher standards of safety. This will significantly reduce journey times.

  • Enhanced convenience

Any difficulty in maneuvering or parking will be eliminated since the car will be capable of handling complicated moves with ease.

This will make commuting less stressful and the car could even drop you off and then go park itself!

People who face difficulties in driving such as old people, differently-abled people, and children will also have the chance to experience their own independence and the freedom of solo car travel.

Furthermore, the need for a driving license or driving tests will be eliminated.

  • Insurance benefits

Higher safety standards and fewer associated risks would reduce insurance premiums for car owners.

  • Fuel to cost advantage

In all probability, self-driving cars will be powered by electricity or hydrogen or some alternate form of propulsion technology.

This means major savings when it comes to fuel costs.

  • Environmental benefits

Lesser or no fuel consumption means greater efficiency which in-turn means fewer carbon emissions and fewer pollution levels.

Booking your driving test

Arranging your driving test is very simple and works similarly to booking your theory test.

It’s all handled online and will cost you £62. Note that you can’t book it until you’ve passed your theory test and will need to provide the number on your theory test certificate to do so.

You will also need to choose from which test centre you take your driving test. However, we strongly recommend you stick to what you know and go with the test centre in an area you’re most familiar with.

Is it cheaper to live without a car?

Yes, it is cheaper to live without a car. You’ll save money each month by not having a car payment, but it helped me save money on car insurance, maintenance and gas as well. Just eyeballing the numbers above, I saved about $340 each month by living a car free lifestyle and not having a vehicle to pay for or maintain.

Ultimately, I saved $4,760 over 14 months by not having a car.

Obviously, this is a nice chunk of change. It came in handy while we were paying for our wedding, buying our first home together and saving for our honeymoon.

Cameras

Elon Musk has famously claimed that cameras are the only sensor technology needed for self-driving cars, we just need the algorithms to be able to fully comprehend the images they receive. Camera images capture everything needed for a car to drive, it’s just that we’re still developing new ways for computers to process the visual data and translate it into 3D actionable data.

Teslas have 8 external-facing cameras to help them understand the world around them.

How did you get around without a car?

  • Using public transportation
  • Ubers and Lyfts
  • Borrowing a car at times (mostly from my boyfriend-now-husband)
  • Cutting down on short trips 30 to 45 minutes out of town
  • Rich bought this Segway as a Black Friday treat the Thanksgiving before. It never got much use until after the accident, and then I began riding it around everywhere. (You may have seen it on my Instagram stories!).

Getting your result

If you don’t pass, don’t worry. The majority of learners fail the driving test the first time, and two failures or more are not an uncommon occurrence. Stay positive, take a few more lessons and book in another test when you feel ready.

But if you are one of the lucky ones, well done! Your learning to drive days are over as of the moment, the test ends you’re free to get in a car and take it for a spin (responsibly, of course, and providing you have insurance).

Talk It Out

Since failure teaches valuable lessons, Primack alPrimack asks new drivers how they think something should be done before they do it. As you’re approaching a red light where you want the driver to make an unprotected left, ask your driver to talk you through what he or she will do when the light turns green. It helps them think through their actions ahead of time.

Since failure teaches valuable lessons, Primack also lets new drivers make small, safe mistakes in low-risk settings—like asking the person to change lanes when there aren’t other cars around. Then he’ll ask how they think it went and what they would do differently the next time.

Take the road test

The road test typically consists on driving a vehicle accompanied by an examiner who is going to grade your performance.

In some states, you will be required to get a car from a friend or driving school, but you will need to confirm that with your local DMV agency.

Take the weather into consideration, as you don’t want to take the practical test if it’s been raining or snowing considerably.

During the test, display confidence and follow the instructions as indicated. Examiners are meticulously looking for any reason to believe you are not ready to hold a driver’s license.

If you manage to perform according to the standards, you will receive a passing score, which means that you are prepared enough to drive a vehicle safely.

Yet, some candidates fail on the first try, and that’s common between young driver. But, again, practice makes perfect.

Regardless of your score, you should ask for feedback and find ways to improve those areas in which you need more practice.

Preprocessing

I preprocessed the images to make them easier for the model to learn from.

The background is mostly just trees and mountains and grass; unimportant detail, so I cropped off that part of the images. The colour channels were changed from RGB to YUV because the YUV colour filter has been proven to be super effective for computer vision purposes.

Preprocessed image is cropped and converted to YUV

How to Drive a Car

This tutorial explains how to drive a car:

Follow this guide and learn how to drive a car
Follow this guide and learn how to drive a car
  • 1. Starting the Car Start the car by turning the key clockwise till it stops for 1 to 2 seconds. Once you hear the engine fire up, release the ignition key.
  • 2. Depress the Clutch If you’re a little unsure of which floor pedals do what, think from right to left A, B and C; Accelerator, Brake and Clutch. Using your left foot, press the clutch down all the way to the floor and hold it there.
  • 3. Select 1st Gear From neutral, using your left hand push the gear lever all the way to the left and once it stops, push it straight up into 1st gear. Now place that hand onto the handbrake lever.
  • 4. A Little Gas Give the engine a little power by ‘setting the gas’. Gently and slowly press the accelerator pedal. You only need to press it a small amount, think roughly around 1 cm. Steady the pedal once the rev counter reaches approximately 1500 rpm.
  • 5. Find the Bite Point The clutch allows you to change gear, so think of the clutch as two plates that can join and separate. One plate is connected to the engine and the other is connected to the wheels. When you put the clutch down it separates the plates allowing you to change gear. You need to find the clutch bite point – the point in which the two plates begin to join and connect the engine, gears and wheels. As you lift the clutch, the plates will begin to come together and you will hear the engine change its tone and the car may creak a little. As soon as you hear this, hold the clutch right there as it’s the bite point.
  • 6. Handbrake You now need to release the handbrake. Slightly raise it and pull in the button on the end. Now release the lever all the way down and place your hand back onto the steering wheel. If your car has an electronic handbrake (parking brake), there will be a button that requires pressing.
  • 7. Moving the Car Off Very slowly and very slightly press down on the accelerator, whilst simultaneously releasing the clutch. It’s important at this point that you release the clutch slowly else it will likely result in stalling the car. Shortly after the car has moved off and has gained momentum, you can fully release the clutch all the way and remove your foot from the pedal.

That’s the basics for learning how to drive a car by moving it off at its simplest. Don’t worry if you stall, most learners do, just start again until you get the hang of it. For further information, see how to stop stalling the car.

Clutch Wear

Finding and using the clutch bite point is an excellent method for new drivers to move off and minimise the potential of stalling. This method does however increase clutch wear. As you progress and gain confidence in clutch control, try releasing the handbrake, increasing the accelerator and bringing up the clutch from the floor simultaneously without holding it on the bite point.

To avoid stalling, you’ll need to slow lifting the clutch pedal at the bite point area, but can lift it quickly once the car has gained momentum. This takes a little more practice, but is easier long-term and reduces clutch wear.

Final thoughts

Although self-driving cars are not that far off being a stunning reality, they are not yet perfected.

Major auto giants such as BMW, Lexus, Nissan, Audi, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Waymo, and Uber are heavily investing in making driverless cars a reality.

However, whether self-driving cars should be introduced any time soon is still up for debate.

What do you think? Are there any pros or cons that you think we’ve missed?

We’d love to hear from you.

Setting up the Car

Before we begin covering how to drive a car, you’ll need to get the car set up for you. We are all different sizes and heights, so setting up the car in order to easily reach all the controls is important in terms of safety. This procedure is called the cockpit drill and what we need to do can be remembered by DSSSM. That is:

  • D (doors) – Check that all the doors a shut
  • S (Seat) – Move the seat forwards or backwards to that you can press the clutch pedal to the floor but maintain a slight bend in your leg.
  • S (steering) – Adjust the steering or the back of the seat to that you can place both hands at the top of the steering wheel but maintain a slight bend in your arms. If you can comfortably grip the top of the steering wheel, you can easily reach every other control.
  • S (seat belt) – Secure your seat belt and ensure there are no twists. Ensure passengers are securely belted.
  • M (mirrors) – Adjust the interior and door mirrors. For help setting up mirrors, see mirror adjustment.

The cockpit drill tutorial covers all of these safety procedures in much more detail. Once you have the car set up, you can begin learning how to drive a car.

Other sensors

Self-driving cars will also utilize traditional GPS tracking, along with ultrasonic sensors and inertial sensors to gain a full picture of what the car is doing as well as what’s occurring around it. In the realm of machine learning and self-driving technology, the more data collected, the better.

Practice with an instructor

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After you get your permit, you need to practice. If you’ve never driven before, you’re best off with a professional instructor for your first few rides. They’re better prepared to teach you than a friend or relative, and they have their own brake pedal. They know the difference between “good driving” and the more rigorous rules of a driving test. And unlike family and friends, if things go poorly, you never have to see them again.

Research your driving school on Google and Yelp. You don’t need to pick the absolute best—just avoid any place with a trail of complaints. Get a feel for the vibe of the place, and if you trust it enough, invest in a package deal: a classroom course, lessons, and a ride to the test site.

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Unlike your driving test examiner, who’s paid to keep dangerous drivers off the road, your instructor is paid to help you pass the test. They win when you win. Be honest about your feelings so they can address them. You never want to look hesitant or confused in front of the examiner, so work that out with your instructor. And ask them where the test takes place. Some states don’t allow learners to scope out the test location, but since the test happens on public roads, it’s hard to enforce. Again, your instructor will know what you can safely get away with.

Brooklyn, NY’s Drive Rite Academy, where I re-learned how to drive after ten years off the road, advised me over email:

For adult learners, especially those who have never driven, don’t be afraid to be wrong. You are learning. It’s a process. Be willing to listen to instruction and criticisms and you will excel in your driving education experience.

Adults who are coming here from another country are at a disadvantage, as they not only need to learn the new legal requirements, but also the social standards of driving in this country. They often have habits or techniques that were acceptable or normal in their home country, but which are not acceptable or even unsafe here.

Adults who are learning for the first time, however, have a slight advantage of typically being more able to comprehend why an action is or isn’t dangerous, which helps them learn how to avoid unsafe antics very quickly. But in general everyone new behind the wheel is at the same starting point — a little nervous, a little overwhelmed, and in very unfamiliar territory.

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In addition to actual driving practice, you might have to take a driver’s education course. In Texas, new drivers under 25 need to take a six-hour course online or in a classroom, while everyone else needs to watch a one-hour video. In New York, all new drivers need to take a five-hour classroom course, which varies widely by driving school but will probably include at least one gruesome video of accident footage from drunk drivers.

Is learning to drive good or bad for the brain?

Learning to drive is incredibly good for the brain… It makes us smarter! Think about our brains like a car- if we let a car sit for years without turning it on or doing much with it, the car begins to deteriorate and it’s pathways wear and tear. It’s essential that the engine is turned on every once in a while to keep the pathways clean and steady. The same goes for our brains. If we don’t exercise them, they deteriorate.

Learning to drive and driving often keep the brain’s ability to focus sharp. Keeping focus isn’t simple, but it’s something that can always be practiced and improved. Focus is also critical for growing grey matter, connecting our brains neural pathways, and making quick yet good decisions.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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