Posts Tagged ‘Driving Test’

Everyone has memories of sitting an exam, the hours spent awake reading books that most sane people don’t know exist such as “The history of Chinese mushrooms in the 12th centaury”, and the days spent sweating your entire body weight in sheer terror. All that effort only to find that when you actually sit the test what you were told to study has changed, and now you need to know about Japanese mushrooms in the 14th centaury. Whether it be a boring hour long exam in a soulless hall dressed in grey uniforms or sitting behind the wheel of a 1.2 litre hatchback driving through crowds of school kids who clog up the high street.

It's a Car

a typical learn to drive car

I now find myself in such a position along with thousands of other people about to sit their practical driving test in the next month, as come October it’s all change again, and all in the name of being able to claim that we’re 0.0001% less likely to die.

Overall the changes are rather meaningless, as there are only two major changes to the usual pomp and circumstance of the event. These being a new 10-minute “independent driving” section and shrinking the number of slow speed maneuvers from two to one.  Slow speed driving usually consisted of being asked to perform two of the following: Turn in the road, parallel parking or reversing round a corner. In a way this is a bonus as reversing round a corner is as useful to driving as smearing custard on your legs is to tanning, seeing as the closest you get is reversing out of a parking space at a strip club in the early hours.

Driving Standards Agency Logo

The real fuss for people is this independent driving section, which the Driving Standards Agency describes as “not a test of your orientation and navigation skills. Driving independently means making your own decisions – this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you’re going”. Despite the fact its obvious that if your test takes place in your home town, your more likely to go on instinct, prior knowledge and ability to navigate by landmarks such as the pub than bothering with road signs.

Although these changes were implemented by a bunch of grey-haired pensioners in suits sitting 50 floors above London it’s the front-end examiners and instructors who now need to change what they teach to meet the new requirements.  So we spoke to one, or more specifically my one, who said of the new text: “I don’t feel that would be the definite changes that will make safe driving, it’s going to make it harder for some people, and it’s probably the wrong people its targeting to make it harder for”.

But if these changes won’t do it, then what will, the instructor (who is terrified of having her name appear in print) talked of the need to have a series of follow up tests, to make sure that the platoons of tracksuit clad soldiers armed with their sonic stereos and razor sharp baseball caps continue to behave until they lose all sense of individuality and melt into a single greyish soup on the floor.

When asked how often these “Follow ups” should be undertaken, the response given was: “In my view over the first two years especially. They’ve got if you get six points in the first two years they can revoke your license, I don’t feel that’s enough of a fear or enough of a factor in trying to keep people safe because they’re still going to exactly what they want to do at that point.

“I’m of the belief that with the new photo card license, you need to reapply for that every ten years, its too easy then to get your license back, after the ten years, without having any form of follow-up to show you can still drive in a safe manner, I personally believe that once you got your license there should be some sort of test or follow-up tests every few years to make sure your still safe.”

You could ask if the system is so badly set out, why haven’t instructors kicked up a fuss, simple: “There have been consultations done and very few driving instructors do actually fill in any consultation forms”

In other words instructors like taxi drivers and learners like myself, suffer from shout a lot then scratch self-syndrome.

The Today program on Radio Four also raised the issue of driving, citing inexperience (something that actually makes sense) as the cause of crashes. Although driving at 70 miles and hour along a three-lane motorway when you’ve never been on one before passing your test might also be a factor. Unless your Welsh that is as, if Cardiff research get their way, anyone under 24 won’t be allowed to drive at night or with their friends. Employing the religious method of blaming all for the actions of a few, such as blaming the 20 million young people for the actions of 300.

Now it might well be that they claim under 24s shouldn’t be allowed to drive at night as they’re inexperienced and thus more likely to crash in the dark, if this is true will someone please tell me what on your 25th Birthday suddenly and magically makes you capable of driving on tight country roads in the rain at night with the only light being from your headlights. Otherwise forgive me if I continue to believe you have to drive at night with an instructor or alone for a short distance to get the ability built up.

so creepy it's scary

Despite the new rules, the debates over whether the Human Rights Act applies to under 25s and whether young people or vampires are a bigger threat at night the simple situation is that no one wants to address the real issues. Young people will always make mistakes, making a mistake and either yourself or others learning from it is the core of education, whether it be a teacher telling you 25 x 15 is actually 375 or smoking a joint of weed then throwing up over your girlfriend. Sometimes the mistake is minor, sometimes it’s huge, but the whole point is you learn. As imagine if you never learned anything, not because you were born with the intelligence of Wikipedia, but because you lived such a sheltered life where you never tried anything and thus learned, well you’d be like Rod and Todd Flanders on The Simpsons, in other words unable to function in wider society.

Make the changes you want, just remember that its going to confuse a lot of people when you do who suddenly have to learn a whole new subject in two days and that even after that things will never be perfect. Heck if the world was flawless, I wouldn’t see any point in living in it.

Adam Walker