My car adventures in Tallinn
I have never had a car before in my life, but I got a driver’s license at 18 years old. My logic at that time was that I didn’t have a decent job but instead I had plenty of time to go to a driving school, so it seemed rational to obtain a license in order not to spend any time when I actually get myself a car in the future.
This approach worked well for me, I didn’t need to worry about it while buying a car, but my tip to you would be to finish some small practical course in a driving school just to remember how it’s done under the surveillance of a professional.
But I didn’t even think about such courses since they usually cost some money and honestly it wouldn’t be so fun for me, so I decided to buy a cheap car with manual gearbox and try to drive and see what happens.
To find a car I visited auto24.ee and applied some filters in order to search for it. This way I ended up with Honda Civic. I didn’t know what I wanted from the beginning, but when I saw it, I immediately got “Need for Speed: Underground” nostalgia and that was it.
I don’t know anything about cars, so I tried to ask my colleagues in order to get some help, but anyway when you’re buying a car almost of your age it’s kinda more like a lottery, rather than a clear choice. General advice for everyone who buys more than 20 years old cars is to buy German cars I guess or a Honda Civic of course ;)
The next thing I did is I called the owner and asked to have a test drive. When we met I honestly said about not driving for 5 years straight. He didn’t really care about it and only mentioned that for the first car — it’s the best one. Well, I had a seat and tried to drive backwards and almost hit some other car because I forgot about looking at mirrors. Then I made a circle around a block and once I had a stall of my engine because of releasing a clutch too suddenly but I reacted quickly and started it again and drove back to his place. Anyway it wasn’t so bad for a guy who didn’t have a proper drive for the last 5 years right? :)
In Estonia you can buy a car over the Internet. Basically you just need to transfer money to the current owner, and when he sees that they came to his account he transfers the ownership using specific website and that’s it. From that moment you can drive it legally, but you have to get your documents from ARK or they can send it to you by post. Of course I’m maybe loosing some details, but generally it’s that easy.
But I decided to do it in an old fashioned way, so I asked him to go to the ARK in person, which costs you 61 euros. The whole process takes just couple of minutes. We entered the building, I signed the contract, filled out some form and then we approached one of the managers and she printed out the document which states that I’m now the new owner of the car. Then I gave money to the previous owner and we left the building.
Apart of just paying a fee you should also buy an insurance which is necessary and costs a lot if you are doing this the first time and own a very old car. I payed 93 euros for 3 months (couldn’t afford to pay for a year :D) and that was the cheapest option for me. I bought my insurance via iizi.ee service which shows you all possible options when you enter your plate number.
Since I don’t know Tallinn well, I bought a holder for my phone beforehand and right after buying a car I opened Google Maps and went to my workplace. I don’t know how but I drove pretty good (sarcasm), I had the stall of an engine once and missed couple of turns because I didn’t manage to change a lane beforehand, also I accidentally drove through the red light. When I arrived at work I felt a little bit depressed because it was stressful for me to pay attention to a lot of things like: pedestrians, lights, signs, other cars, speed, gearbox. Also I realized that I didn’t even know the meaning of almost every button or light in my car. I didn’t feel myself happy about this.
After work my friend agreed to drive with me in order to help me feel safer on the road. We drove to the supermarket and then back to work and tried a couple of exercises on the field to achieve a better feeling of a car. After that I tried to drive there alone and everything seemed to be good except of I couldn’t leave a parking lot because my handbreak was on and I couldn’t realize why the car didn’t move. At that moment I felt myself like a total retard and thought that probably that was a bad idea to buy a car and I have a lot of chances to end up on youtube’s FailArmy channel. If anything else happened later that day — I would totally cry like a baby because I was on the edge :( Depression evolved into pure rage and will to kill myself, but I drove back to work nicely and asked another friend of mine if I should leave a car at work or try to park it at my friend’s house. He cheered me up a bit and advised me to drive as much as I can even if I don’t want to because it’s the only way to get an experience on the road and everyone was driving bad in the beginning. I listened to him and my last drive for that day was good and I felt myself satisfying.
The next day, while trying to leave my friend’s house I saw some other car coming towards me and my brain turned off for a second and I crashed the trash bin which was staying nearby. Then I reversed back, let that car go and left the parking. This is not how you should start a day because it gives a lot of stress and pressure on you really. Then I also had problems with releasing the clutch which leaded to a lot of crazy “beep-beep” from other drivers because I couldn’t start moving fast enough. Then I went on the field in order to train this and eventually started to feel pedals better, but anyway I still have this clutch problem sometimes but I don’t care anymore because after couple of days it happens very rare.
I’m still surprised that I’m lucky enough to be alive and that I didn’t crash into someone (but I’d lie if I said that I had no situations that could possibly lead to this >.<).
In the end of the day I felt a little bit depressed and even worse when I noticed that I was driving without fastening a seatbelt.
Well, it’s fair to say that Estonian drivers are very calm most of the time, but if you drive really bad, they can “beep-beep” at you and as my colleagues say it means that you really pissed someone of. I had at least one of that every day of the first week, not proud of that, but it’s the truth :D
One other thing that worth mentioning is that most of Estonian drivers use turning lights only while actually turning, not beforehand, also they usually switch lanes without using them either and if they need to turn right from a lane that goes only straight — they will just do it but in this case they will use lights. I drive really shitty, but even though I turn the lights 50–100 meters before because otherwise I don’t know how people can be prepared to lose some speed just in case.
But anyway, I really like that I started driving here in Estonia because most of the people really understand you if you make some sick moves and don’t react at all. Also I bought green stickers on the car which indicate that I’m a newbie on the road. I don’t really have to have them on my car since my driver’s license is 5 years old but I guess it’s the right way to do so other people could be prepared if I make some mistakes. By the way, if you get your license here, you must have those stickers for 2 first years if you don’t violate any rules on the road.
Driving a car itself is not hard, it’s harder to keep track of what’s going on on the road and when you should change lanes and predict if anyone can suddenly stop and turn somewhere without any turning lights and so on. The stress is huge in the beginning because every time I made a mistake on the road I was thinking about it for the rest of the day and it ate me from the inside. But this stress thing lasts only first couple of days on the road, then you ride significantly better, the only rule is — never give up and believe in yourself (also remind yourself from time to time that everybody started from where you did to cheer up yourself a bit).
These couple of days of pure adventures gave me a lot of funny memories and good experience. Also it’s always good to leave your comfort zone and try yourself. My opinion — you should learn how to drive even if you don’t feel any necessity in it just because it’s the another way to test yourself and get a lot of positive emotions. Don’t be scared, just drive safe :)