...and you did WHAT in the Summer???
I did some training at HERIB (Hull and East Riding Institute for the Blind) and saw a poster “Are you up for a challenge? Why not try driving a car blindfold?” This sounds good I thought, and on reading further discovered it was an event to raise funds for the charity. What could be better than combining the two!!
I arranged I would travel with the group to Sheffield rather than the option of going alone and shopping at Meadowhall (yuk!). On reflection, I would rather have gone shopping (those that know me, know that is not something I would choose lightly) as the minibus driver wasn’t up to RoSPA standards by any means. It’s probably a good job that most people couldn’t see what he was doing as he had his dog loose on the front seat and driving down the motorway was tearing up ham and feeding it. Not to mention reaching to the front of the dashboard to get the direction sheet (while travelling about 60 m.p.h.) and the mobile phone he kept reading.
Anyway, we arrived at an old airfield set out with a tyre track. I was one of the first to go and decided to do a sighted lap first (on hindsight not a wise decision). It was not easy to tell exactly where I was meant to be going but the instructor guided me and was telling me how good my driving skills were (I should blooming hope so too!!). Next I did my blindfold lap, the instructor would say turn right and I would turn the steering wheel, he would then push it further right so I was obviously thinking I was driving more of a curve than I actually was. We made it round the circuit without hitting anything although allegedly I came close to some spectators on the home straight (shame I missed the minibus driver).
My timed lap was 2.54 seconds which was better than the group who had been in the morning so I felt quite pleased with myself…..after the others had done their laps I wasn’t quite so content, I ended up second slowest in the afternoon. After my sighted lap I realised I had been trying to think where I was on the circuit, which perhaps didn’t help. Also on speaking with Rosie she said only 6% of people have no sight at all so the other 94% can see varying degrees of shade whereas with a blindfold on you are in complete darkness.
On talking to the others it became apparent that it would have been much more useful if the instructor had said more than just “ok, turn right” because everyone said they had difficulty with this. The instructors said they would take it on board and see how they could improve.
My instructor certainly needed to improve his attitude to RoSPA as he said, “Why do you hold the steering wheel with two hands, there’s no need. You do it because that’s the way they taught you and they were taught years ago and it’s the way it has always been done”. He was telling me how many different types of vehicle he had driven (tank, hgv, car, tanker, blah, blah….) and how technology means that you don’t need to touch any pedals in a car to be able to drive. He then gave me a demonstration lap during which he drove one handed using no accelerator or brake (he claimed the car would go up to 10 mph in 1st , 20 mph 2nd etc. I am not sure the car would be very happy with that but then again I am not a mechanic). Maybe we should post him (and the minibus driver) a copy of Roadcraft so he can join his local group, learn more, and improve his skills!