Monday, September 03, 2007

Driven to distraction

The theory part of the driving test has apparently just been made more difficult. The BBC website is carrying a quiz to see how many of the multiple choice questions we know the answer to. To pass, you need nine out of 10. To my shame, I scored seven. I would have scored six if I’d answered question 10 honestly.

In my defence, I sat my test a long time ago – before the theory test was even invented. Our theory involved swotting up on the Highway Code and learning the stopping distances on the back cover parrot-fashion ('and double it if it’s wet’). I had no concept of what the stopping distance physically looked liked then, nor do I now, and I certainly can’t remember what they are in theory. I wasn’t quizzed on stopping distances in the three quick-fire questions I was asked after I’d done the practical part of the test. I am one of those unbearable smug people who passed first time.

I am a firm believer that you only really learn how to drive when you’re out there doing it on your own. I didn’t drive at all in the six months between passing and buying my first little mini. Three days later (with a friend along for moral support), I did a round trip of 300+ miles: I had to find somewhere to live because I was starting a new job. That drive was a baptism of fire: I managed to graze the central reservation while fiddling with the lights. I also learned to parallel park in that little car, something I would’ve failed my test on had I been asked to do it. But in the real world, I had to learn if I wanted to park outside my house.

I think now, though, new drivers forget rather than learn new skills when they throw away their L-plates.

One question I would like to see included in the new theory test is:

When do you use your indicators?

a. I don’t, I expect the other motorists to telepathically know what my next manoeuvre will be.
b. Indicators? I don’t need indicators – I’m king of the road!
c. My car doesn’t have indicators.
d. When turning or pulling in or out.

I reckon a lot of today's drivers would get that one wrong …

23 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I scored 9 out of 10. Only this evening I watched a pick up driver smoking a cigarette whilst talking on his mobile phone. He was turning at the traffic lights and had to make a last moment grab at the steering wheel to avoid crashing in to the car just in front of me. It was a close call. I think anyone caught using a mobile phone whilst driving should be shaven bald, tattooed with a number, made to wear striped pyjamas and placed in a barbed wire encircled camp with other offenders... Just an idea.

Anonymous said...

I scored 10 out of 10, but then I have a driving licence but no car !

So it is easy to answer truthfully when one is presented with 'what would you do in theory if...' as opposed to reflecting what one does in practice.

You are so right about indicators - I feel sure that in some BMWs they are an optional extra which the driver just could not afford.

Anonymous said...

Yorkshire Pudding - good points, but if the police can't/won't/don't enforce the mobile ban, it doesn't seem surprising if eejits keep using the darn things.

As for your second idea, hmmm, many of the miscreants already are bald, tattooed and wear striped pyjamas so you are half-way there, although I'm not sure if this would then be quite enough of a deterrent....

That said, I understand more police are to be issued with Tazers - that might 'learn 'em' !

muddyboots said...

l like the indicators bit. haven't tried the quiz yet though.

Karen said...

I got 10 out of 10. I am one of the annoying smug people that got 35 out of 35 on their theory test. However it took me three goes to pass my driving test. Like Anonymous I have a licence but no car. My mum and dad used mine as a part exchange for a new Mini!

ziggi said...

indicators???? are they the little flashing yellow ones?

Jane said...

Indicators ARE optional on new cars. Right after the bit on the form that asks if you want the shiny silver colour or the slightly duller silver colour, or the matt silver colour, it says "Are you a sheep, ready to follow all the idiots who carry on indicating despite it being obvious that anyone with any sense marked that one down as one to forget as soon as they passed their test, or are you a bold person ready for today's bright individualitic age, ready to buck the trend by having a silver car and no indicators?"

debio said...

Don't think learning anything by rote ever means anything.

How about intelligence tests instead - that should sort out those who can really drive from those who 'drive' to get from A to B.

Those who can't multi-task - i.e. drive and be on the phone and read the road signs and ignore the passengers and, perish the thought, change gear and brake and indicate simultaneously should never, ever be allowed any practical road-driving experience at all!

beta mum said...

I got 9 out of 10.
I didn't have to sit a theory test either, and learning in Jersey meant I didn't have to do a few other things that you had to in England at the time.
I think the most useful thing would be to learn some basic car maintenance, but that'd make the lessons even more expensive.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Now I feel really stupid - all you clever buggers would've passed and I would've failed miserably. I think I shall sit on the kitchen floor and cry now ...

Anonymous said...

eminem, don't be a silly sausage, you can ride a horse, a far more useful skill for the post-oil world I'm sure !

I am very worried about Debio referring to 'multi-tasking' while driving - let us know where you live, dear, so that we can avoid you...

Omega Mum said...

Speaking as somebody who accidentally reached through the steering wheel while driving, turned it and then trapped hand until able to turn wheel in opposite direction - all this in the middle of busy one-way system, I don't think my score matters. I should simply not be out on the road.

Lizzie said...

Oh for the days of sticky-out orange pointers and the left/right arm/hand signals. If you did a hand signal nowadays, nobody would have the faintest what it was about. (Oh, the old dear's on a one way trip to the local residential home.)

Winchester whisperer said...

I got 5 out of 10 and I don't think question 1 should be counted so my real score's 4 out of 9. Boo!
My friends are always rather doubtful about my driving mainly because I once had to drive in the dead of a pitch black countryside night wearing prescription sunglasses.

Mopsa said...

I use my indicators when the windows are shut. Actually no, I am a good indicator user as I find most folks are on the single track Devon roads. And oops - I only scored 8.

Gill said...

One of my favourite phrases to shout at other drivers is "Don't bother to indicate I'm psychic!"

Gill said...

Second favouite is "premature ejaculator" for those who overtake at innapropriate places and third favourite is "stop panting up my arse."

Gill said...

oh dear- I got the one wrong where it asks what it means if an owner dresses their dog in a burgundy or yellow coat. I thought it meant they were gay.

Anonymous said...

gill - I feel that what you need is one of those Light Emitting Diode signs that they have in shops..

You know the kind of thing, messages slide past in those little red LED lights with phrases like 'Buy One Get One Free - Today Only !!!!' which then flash on and off.

You could wire one to a little keyboard in the car, and have it displayed on your back window.

It would save you having to shout..

Pig in the Kitchen said...

no no, don't feel stupid, i got 8, and was told 'so near, yet so far'. That made me want to drink 10 pints, let one of my children steer, send text messages and flash my tits at other cars, all the while doing 90mph going the wrong way down a one way street.
There.
That'll show 'em.

Karen said...

One of my favourite escapist programmes is Police Camera Action! which has footage of people doing all the things that Pig in the Kitchen just mentioned above :) great when you're eating your tea or had a bad day at work, always makes me giggle.

Rob Clack said...

I passed my test in a previous life too. Drivers that irritate me a lot are the ones that indicate Right at a roundabout when they're actually going Straight On. Drive me bonkers! I once had a rather heated argument with a post-doc here in Cambridge about it. She swore that was what the Highway Code said. It wasn't, of course. These days there's a nice clear diagram, but those who learned it wrong years ago are beyond reach.

@themill said...

Indicators? What are they again?