A week ago, I decided it was finally time to just get a driver’s license. So I went into the driving school near where I live, and hooked up a couple of lessons and a test. We might have called the DSA, but for the fact that we’re not in the UK and therefore didn’t feel like a utterly pointless 2 month wait on a test. Nah, instead, we booked a test last Tuesday, for Friday. I had a couple of lessons, then passed the road test.
Learning to drive on the other side of the road, in an automatic car, took 3 days. The Massachusetts driving test is laughably ridiculous since it lasts under ten minutes, is only conducted in a residential area, and essentially involves just making a handful of observable driving actions. However, at least I’ve learned elsewhere to use my mirrors correctly (watching for motorized/non-motorized bikes and other at-risk persons). Here in MA, they didn’t even bother to tell me about that. They didn’t bother with the rear view mirror…I could go on, but the point is obvious – there’s a lot of truth to the stereotypes of US drivers that those outside the US may or may not hold true. Oh, and the “correct” way to turn the wheel here is hand-over-hand…sigh.
Not that I care. Here, they’re way more pragmatic than those anally pedantic DSA folks. The UK “Driving Standards Agency” is a government quango that is paid to waste your time. They make vast amounts of money out of offering no customer service, make you wait months for a test, and generally are utterly useless. The testing here is inadequate, but at least it’s possible to book this side of July 4. In the States, they care more about getting you onto the road (to the detriment of public safety, in my opinion) than in whether you screw up on a minor technicality during a reverse parallel park. Did I mention that the UK DSA suck? Those folks just suck…so so much.
So, look out, I’m licensed to drive now.