Friday, 23 November 2007
Long and winding road
I've nearly reached the end of my list of goals that I set when I moved to the UK five years ago. I got my UK citizenship and passport in July of this year, and the next goal is to get the UK driving licence. The driving test is a big deal in the UK. It is very strict,and lots of people fail it several times before finally earning their licence. Personally, I think this failure rate is not so much in the interest of public safety as it is to earn the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency)more money. Every time you retake the test, of course you have to pay the exorbitant fees again. And people fail for small reasons, like not looking over their shoulder enough when joining a dual carriageway from a slip road, then the next test when they try to improve in that area, they fail for looking over their shoulder too often. They fail for bumping the kerb, hesitating, not having their hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel, not checking their mirrors enough, checking their mirrors too much, going too slow, all sorts of excuses. Some people are even told by the test examiner that they are good drivers, but they have to be failed anyway because of one or more of these picky points. Which is why I think examiners have a quota of failures they must achieve because they're working to a financial target for the DVLA.
Anyway, I've got my provisional licence and intend to call around and find a driving instructor who can coach me in the proper performance for this wretched practical exam, so I will know precisely what unnatural behaviours my examiner will scrutinize me for. Then when I get my licence I can drive like normal people. I'm not looking forward to it and will not be surprised if I fail more than once, even though I've held a clean US license since I was 17 years old.
On the upside, once I get the darn thing (which I fully intend to do before 2008 is out!), it will be nice to have a car. At the moment we like the Toyota Yaris:
It's not amazingly sexy or anything, but it has favourable reviews from consumer magazines and seems like a good choice for us.
May all beings be at ease.