Some friends who read my blog about buying a car in the UK asked me why I didn’t talk about my experience in getting a UK driving license. My usual answer was just “It’s too painful (shameful actually) to even recall that” but right now I think I better share the pain before I forget everything.
That’s my driving license and if you cut through it with a pair of scissors, I bet you will see my blood and sweat oozing out. Well that’s just the typical cinapek way of tell you that it’s such a fucking pain in the ass to get that piece of plastic.
A summary of facts:
1. I managed to get my driving license after going through 5 driving tests – I failed the first 4.
2. It took me 7 months to get my driving license, 6 months more than initially expected.
3. I had insomnia for two nights after the first failed driving test.
4. I switched my instructor twice thinking that probably it’s probably the instructor’s problem – I was utterly wrong.
Theory & Hazard Perception Test
The theory test was pretty easy actually and most of the rules and road signs were pretty much self explanatory. The hazard perception test was something completely new to me and I thought it’s quite fun. I had to watch a first-person video footage of a moving vehicle and respond to each potential hazard as fast as possible. For example, when I saw a vehicle coming out of a junction or a pedestrian looking to cross the road, I had to click on the mouse immediately, the quicker I clicked the more points I would score. Finally I realised my years of playing Counter Strike had paid off and I passed with flying colours..haha!
Practical Test – Preparation
Before I sat for any practical tests, I got myself an instructor just to get familiar with the testing procedures. Deep inside me, I kept thinking that there’s no way I was gonna fail because I had been driving for over 7 years in Malaysia without any accidents. I even chuckled when the instructor told me that experienced drivers are more prone to failure because they have picked up so many bad driving habits.
The first instructor I had used to be in the military and I found him quite intimidating. I once took the wrong roundabout exit and he just chuckled, “Oh no, I said third exit Daryl and you just took the fourth! You are an accountant who cannot count properly”. Actually I thought that was quite embarrassingly funny. In my defense, I just took the wrong lane that led me to the wrong exit and he always didn’t allow me to switch lane once I entered the roundabout. His advice was this “When you get yourself into the wrong lane, just take that particular exit and examiner can’t penalise you because you won’t harm anyone by getting yourself lost”. I began to like his sense of humour and sarcasm.
Why did I take the wrong lane often? I can’t explain without bitching a little bit about the UK roundabout. First of all, I’m very used to the Malaysia roundabout which looks like this —
I was so used to switching lane in the roundabout just to take the exit I want..haha!
Then I had to face something different in the UK. Normally I would first see a road sign like this —
The instructor would then give me instruction “Enter the roundabout and take the fourth exit”, without telling me the destination. Then I started counting the exit to figure out the destination – vital information for the next sign that shows me the right lane like this —
I often took the wrong lane because the roundabout look like this —
As I said before, I needed to enter the correct lane that flowed through to the exit I wanted. Actually this roundabout wasn’t too bad, the ones with 6-7 exits with 3-4 lanes were fucking stressful.
Mirror – Signal – Turn
One of the most important traffic rules is that I must look at mirror to check that there was no oncoming car, then signal and turn. But I was so used to putting signal before the mirror checking.
“Why can’t I indicate my signal first?” I asked.
“That will scare the car beside you, if any. So you need to check the mirror to make sure there is no car, then you signal” the instructor answered. I didn’t know my signal could be so scary.
“If there is no car, then what for I signal?” I asked.
On the side note, I used turn on my signal before pulling out my car in the neighbourhood when there was no cars around and he said, “There’s no one around to see your signal, don’t bother!”.
Practical Test – 1st Attempt
I was beaming with smile towards the end of the test because I was so confident that I would pass. Then the examiner told me I failed because of driving at 35 mph in a 30 mph zone. Now try to imagine having a loud thunder in the middle of a sunny day – that’s exactly how I felt. In fact, she said all my other aspects were perfect except for speeding. I was so preoccupied with the mirror-signal-turn bullshit that I totally forgot to constantly check my dashboard!
I was totally dumbfounded at that point and before I recover from that, she had left the car. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to pull out a £50 note and ask “Let’s settle here, can?”. I probably didn’t care if this Malaysian gesture would land me in jail.
I had insomnia for two nights because the next test session was one and a half month away. The testing slots were so limited that I really couldn’t afford to wait. I desperately needed my driving license to get my car financing done.
Practical Test – 2nd Attempt
I’ll make the long story short. I failed because I was driving 20 mph in a 40 mph zone. It’s fucking embarrassing to even mention about that.
Practical Test – 3rd Attempt
I came out from a T-junction and didn’t speed up quickly enough. According to my examiner, I failed because the car behind me had to break and slow down because of me. Wtf! If the car behind me was in the middle of a driving test, I’m pretty sure he/she would fail because of speeding! =P
Practical Test – 4th Attempt
I failed for making this turn at the junction.
I have encroached into the opposite lane because there was an idiot who parked his/her car illegally right at the junction.
“You would have crashed your car if there is another car stopping at the junction (at the spot showing my car in the picture)!” said the examiner. In my mind, I was wondering who the fuck would make a turn like I did IF there was a car there.
“So what would you do instead?” I asked.
“I would have stopped behind the parked car (yellow spot in picture), then check to see if there is any car coming from the opposite direction before pulling out again,” he answered.
Oh well, I forgot it’s a test. You basically go by the book regardless of how impractical it is. I show you an example —
You are not allowed to do this because neither of your hands can cross over the imaginary 90 degree boundary. So how do you steer your wheel when it comes to a sharp bend? Just imagine wiping a round plate with both of your hands holding a piece of cloth and that’s how you should do it. I don’t really know how to describe how to do it but I can tell you it’s fucking ridiculous and dangerous actually.
Well it’s really good to have stringent driving test in order to churn out good and responsible drivers. I can assure you that I was such a great law abiding driver in the UK until I returned to Malaysia to become a hooligan driver. Thinking back, my instructor was right, I had so much bad habits due to my long (reckless) driving experience. Compared to the UK driving test, my driving test in Malaysia was really easy. I didn’t even have to enter a single roundabout.
Does it look familiar? This is how to park your car during a driving test in Malaysia. Ask yourself this, “Where the hell can you find a parking lot in the world with poles around it to guide you?”. The answer is not anywhere except the Malaysia Driving Test Centres.