Have car, will travel

“Why announce this to the world?”, you’re probably thinking. Well, it’s because I can, and because I can.

No really. I passed my driving test.

On a scale of ‘Sunshine lollipops’ to ‘Your worst nightmare’, I would have to say I’d rate at around ‘Nervous breakdown’. It all begins with a self-doubt inducing multiple choice test, with an added trigger-happy mouse clicking bonus level, and then rounds off with forty minutes of sweaty palm hell. Actual hell.

I’m sure other people who have passed or failed recently will agree with me.

My Nightmare (yes, it deserves a capital ‘N’) began in early July. I’d taken my theory test twice earlier in the year, and then moved on to taking my practical test. Unfortunately, said test also fell on the same day as Fresher-year exam results day. I am delighted to inform you that I can still study at University, but back in July I would have had no way of getting there.

I’ve chosen to commute rather than live on Campus this year, so being able to drive is fairly necessary, considering the local trains services don’t start up early enough for me to get to morning lectures. So you can see how not passing put a spanner in the works.

Anyway, a few days of checking the .gov website for a test cancellation (which may I just say is utter bullshit) later, I decided that enough was enough and forked out £18 for another service to essentially check every twenty minutes for cancellations. I got a test within a week.

Unfortunately, that test was slightly too late, so I held out for another one.

Two weeks later, I got a test date. The 30th August was it.

I woke up on the 30th August to find that my test had been cancelled, only hours before I was due to take it. Wasn’t a very happy bunny that morning; moped about in my pyjamas, stress-ate and rounded off the day with a very narked email to the DVSA. They replied, telling me they were very sorry, but shit happens. Thanks a lot.

So I held on, fingers crossed that this service would find me a test earlier than 20th October test the DVSA had arranged for me to replace my cancelled test; as 10th October was when University starts and I would be well and truly down shit creek without a paddle if they didn’t. People told me I would get a test, and I would smile politely and proceed to have a panic attack after leaving their company. The service did find a cancellation, and I had landed the 19th September at 10:14am for my test date, and had a week to prepare.

I passed. Dripping with sweat, hands shaking nervously, about to cry because I thought I’d failed again, but ultimately triumphant.

Look out world, I’m on the road for realz and legally now. No takebacks. Unless I get banned because I sped through a 40 zone or something. Which I won’t do, because anything over 65mph terrifies me, and also because I now have a Black Box in my newly insured car to make sure I abide the rules of the road.

So to all of you out there who have yet to pass or are about to retake your test, here’s some final advice:

  • Practice: With your driving instructor(s), relatives, strangers who hold a full licence. Practice until your feet bleed, your hands blister and you can only speak “Engine”. Drive anywhere and everywhere; and make sure to always always always be confident in performing all of the assigned manoeuvres. (That was one of the reasons why I failed the first time round, because I fudged up a parallel park.) Make sure to check your ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ questions in advance too! It’s cliché, but practice really does make perfect in this scenario; having more driving experience, confidence, and practice miles clocked up could be the difference between you a passing or failing.

 

  • Be the Hunter and not the Hunted: Or at least, that’s what a neighbour told me. He doesn’t take shit off of anyone, and neither should you have to! Driving instructor got a bit of a reputation? Never mind! Be confident! Be bold! Don’t be afraid to talk to them about your driving process!!! On my second test, I had begun to pull out of a blind junction when a car came round the corner quickly. Having committed to emerging, I had to accelerate and pull out rather than breaking- which would have caused me to stall the car or block the road. I told my examiner that I had ‘committed’; there was no possible way I could have avoided that other than doing as I had done. I received a minor fault for it, because although not overtly dangerous, I had still had an observation error.
  • Nobody is perfect: If you don’t get any minor or major faults on your test, then well done you, you’ve passed. But keep in mind that everyone is prone to making mistakes. I made two on my second test, which were lapses of judgement and observation- both are easily done on a daily basis by experienced drivers, and will always be present when driving. It isn’t the end of the world to accumulate errors; you’re most likely going to be nervous and make a few mistakes- but try not to mass too many minors that you earn yourself a serious fault, or be a danger to those around you. Keep calm, focused, and vigilant to what’s going on around you and in your mirrors at all times.
  • Failure is a bitter learning curve: I got really cynical and critical after failing my test, and it is disheartening hearing someone tell you that you’re a failure. Practice more and come back stronger, hoping to succeed. If you can’t get a test date in the near future, why not try a cancellation service? You may end up surprised with how quickly they’ll find you an open test cancellation. See, there’s always hope.
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