on driving

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.


8 Responses to “on driving”

  1. Rob says:

    Sooo…you aren’t going to be doing manoeuvres/driving near me, yes? :)

  2. Carl says:

    Given that you’ve previously failed your driving test over here, and now passed over there inside of 10 minutes, I will “look out”.

    Oh, and if you do your advanced driving over here they tell you to cross your hands for turning too, it’s just harder to do properly and so the standard lessons don’t teach it. They also teach you to always indicate, whereas for the advanced courses if you indicate without anyone being there to see it they’ll ask why you bothered.

  3. mrben says:

    Admittedly it’s a few years since I took my test, but I had no problems booking my test. When I failed my first test, I booked my second test for the following month with no problems (you have to wait a month before taking a 2nd).

    Plus, they won’t fail you on minor infringements, only on major – that’s the whole major/minor fault scheme. And you can have as many minor faults as you like, as long as you have no major.

    Are you, perchance, a little bit biased?

  4. DG says:

    Reason #1 to avoid the US : Bush
    Reason #2 to avoid the US : High chance of being run over by JCM :)

    Congratulations? :-)

  5. Pete Zaitcev says:

    Congratulations. And… I told you in comments on this very blog before that driving licenses must be abolished. They only exist in order for the Government to track you and have additional means of punishing you by revoking your “privilege”. What keeps you safe on the road is a) police, b) insurance companies. All this talk about public safety is just a big lie, and you sitll haven’t shaken it off.

  6. Jaed says:

    So you’d rather be driving in country where any idiot can get in a car, rather than one which checks if you can actually drive….? Whats your next entry going to be “JCM buys a Gun, and marvels at the better Gun Laws than the UK”

  7. Mark Johnson says:

    Congratulations, and yes the DSA suck big time. It took me 5 attempts to pass and each time I failed it was imho technicalities. The urban myth about the quotas they have to fill each month, I think may have some truth to it.

    Also now you have passed your US exam, you are OK to drive in the UK for up to 6months, so next time you come over you can hire a car and drive pass the testing centre blowing a huge raspberry as you do!

  8. Sara says:

    so what you are basically saying is that the US does get Darwinisimy, right?

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