Learning To Drive, Version 3
Learning To Drive, Version 3
The first time I learned to drive, I used a 1961 Dodge Polaris station wagon with pushbutton transmission.
Susan Sampson

Even though it was the size of an aircraft carrier, I passed the parallel parking test and got my driver’s license.

The second time I learned to drive, I mastered manual transmission, coordinating the use of clutch and brakes to start and stop on Seattle’s many steep hills.

Then it was time for me to learn a new trick: Using a computerized electric vehicle with autopilot. Like airplane pilots, I would be “flying by wire.”

My husband Jerry approached the idea enthusiastically: “I want a car I can send to the store for pizza and bring it home with extra napkins,” he said.

He’d be a natural for an electric car. He’s a retired aeronautical engineer and is so high tech that everything in our house is computerized, right down to the vacuum cleaner.

Me? I’m barely comfortable with a smartphone.

However, a computerized car would be good for me as my reflexes slow with age, my eyesight fades, and a computer “thinks” faster than I in traffic.

I must learn: My electric car uses a smartphone, not a key, to operate.

Jaguar, Nissan, and Chevy, among others, already have fully electric cars on the road. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety just gave the Tesla Model 3 its highest safety rating and Tesla bragged it up as the safest car on the road, so that’s what we got.

The car had a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal, so at least that much was familiar.

Jerry admits to driving like a holy terror when he was a kid. He obeys the law now but loved that the electric car could start and come up to speed instantly, going 0-to60 in 3.2 seconds. By contrast, I accelerate in what the car calls “creep” mode.

I drive like I would a gas vehicle in cruise control until I’m on the open highway, then I switch to autopilot.

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December 2019