Driving a car can be one of the great pleasures in the world. Driving a manual car (car with gear stick and not automatic) whilst requiring more hand and foot action is a better experience. Here are some English verbs that we use when describing or explaining how we drive a car. I have also included some idiomatic expressions connected with driving. So by the time you get to the end of this post, you will learn useful English vocabulary related to driving.
English Vocabulary Related to Driving
I am sure you can all remember the first time you got into a car. The very first time your father allowed you to drive HIS car. I certainly do although it was many years ago. Firstly make yourself comfortable put on your seatbelt (click it in place) and you are ready to go.
Start the engine (switch it on or turn it on), check in (look in) the mirror to see if anything is behind you (coming form behind you), release the handbrake (turn off a device operated by hand that prevents a vehicle from moving), then indicate (switch on the indicator) press the accelerator a little and pull out (move out) into the lane and off you go! Simple.
Well, yes and no. If it is your first experience then your mother or worse still your father will be telling you “take it easy, drive carefully, watch out for this and that, slow down etc”. A nightmare. Better to go to a driving instructor and protect your family relationships.
English Vocabulary about Driving - Infographic
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Once you are on the open road or driving in traffic (many cars) then the instructions will be coming thick and fast (a lot of them). Don’t drive to close to the car in front. Don’t exceed (don’t go over) the speed limit. Watch out for (keep an eye on) the road signs. Do not overtake (go past) any cars yet until you are more experienced. When you are approaching (coming close to) the traffic lights slow down (reduce your speed) put your foot gently on the brake. Change gear. Go from 4th or 5th gear to 3rd then 2nd and apply the handbrake when you come to a halt (stop) at the traffic lights. When the lights turn green (your signal to move forward) move slowly by pressing the accelerator and changing gears smoothly. Go up the gears (from 1st to 2nd and so on) and increase your speed accordingly.
When driving at night you have to be more aware and watch all around you. You must of course switch on the headlights and drive with dipped (low) headlights to avoid blinding cars coming towards you (in the opposite direction). Normally we reduce our speed when driving at night .
If you have to reverse (go backwards) make sure you check (look in) your rear view mirror (shows you what is behind you) and reverse slowly.
As your driving improves you should learn the skills necessary to handle the car in wet or icy conditions. You will learn how to handle the car if it skids (goes out of control on a wet or slippery surface) how to swerve (control and steer) the car safely to avoid something blocking the road and how to apply the brakes suddenly if you have to make an emergency stop (to pull up suddenly).
English Idioms about Driving
There are many idiomatic expressions associated with driving. Here are some :
A BACK SEAT DRIVER
Always try to avoid being one of these. When you are used to driving and you are getting a lift as a passenger with a friend or family member avoid the temptation to tell them what to do and what not to do.
ex. David was getting a lift to the airport from his wife. She was dropping him off (taking him there) on her way to work.
– Mind that car, slow down here, watch that guy on your left
– Oh David stop I don’t need a back seat driver!
A SUNDAY DRIVER
You are driving with the family going to a picnic on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The traffic is quite light but there is someone driving in front of you who is driving very slowly and admiring the view. Your only wish is that he would pull over and let you go past him (overtake). These Sunday drivers would drive you mad!!
A ROAD HOG
This is even worse than a Sunday driver. The guy is driving reasonably fast but his car is not as powerful as your car but he does not want to let you go past. He drives in the middle of the lane or worse still between two lanes and you cannot get past him. Road hogs usually think they own the road.
ex. Road Hog, hy is he hogging all the road! (why does he want all the road!)
HONK THE HORN
Nothing annoys me more than to be sitting in my car at the traffic lights waiting for the lights to turn green and the car immediately behind you honks on the horn (beeps on the horn) impatiently the split second (just before) the lights turn green.
TO BE IN THE DRIVING SEAT
Not necessarily connected with driving. This expression is used to describe someone who finds himself in control of a situation in business or in his/her private life.
ex. Margaret couldn’t wait to get to work on Tuesday. The events of Monday meant that she was now in charge of the project and the team knew who was in control. She had got what she wanted. She was very firmly (definitely) in the driving seat and she loved it.
SITTING ON YOUR TAIL
Another pet hate (something I really do not like) of mine. You are driving along without a care in the world and some idiot behind you decides you are not going quickly enough so he sits on your tail (literally gets very close to the back of your car). This is both rude and dangerous as an accident is certainly unavoidable if you have to apply the brakes quickly (stop quickly) I usually put on my hazard lights as a gentle warning and if that does not work then I start slowing down until he/she gets the message (understands what I mean).
Sunday Driver Idiom Meaning
Road Hog Idiom Meaning
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