I wanna @*&!ing drive
August 16, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

How can I pass my driving test? I live in London, so previous questions could be more specific to me.

In France, I know, you have to take 20 hours (or so) before you can try. In England, they recommend 45 (+22 informal, but no mandatory hours)

I've taken 50 hours and the economics now say that taking - and failing - and then taking again - work out better.
posted by Myeral to Travel & Transportation around London, England (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What answers do you want, exactly? Tips on how to drive better? Differences between driving in France and the UK?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2007

Response by poster: EndsOfInvention: What answers do you want, exactly?
I guess I was looking for tips on how to pass my test, but was thinking about the different standards on the thing around the world. I'll settle for 'how to drive better' if you can help...?
posted by Myeral at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2007

I found it really useful to pick a scary driving landmark, and knew I was ready when I could drive it without (much) fear (I chose the Gateway Bridge, but maybe somewhere like Hammersmith roundabout in peak hour would be equivalent in London). Then book a test, and drive as much as possible until then. If you can drive around in the car in which you're going to take the test, even better. Drive everywhere - in the suburbs, on the motorway, near to where you'll take the test. Get to know the area.

If you fail the first time, at least you'll be more clued up about the test and be able to anticipate and plan for any issues. Good luck!
posted by goo at 1:17 PM on August 16, 2007

Be deferentially polite, to the point of being awkward, to the person administering the test. I detected a noticeable difference in my test-person's tone of voice and general demeanor after I said "Bless you" when she sneezed. These people deal with a lot of snotty, obnoxious kids all day and a nice one - who seems genuinely nice - makes a big impression, I think.

This was in San Diego, which is not quite London, but I think driving exam administrators are human everywhere.
posted by crinklebat at 1:25 PM on August 16, 2007

This may or may not have any bearing on your situation, but the drivers licence people where I live used to have a mock up test that they gave out with the study manual. When you could answer every question on the mockup, you could pass the real one. Perhaps they have something like that where you are.
posted by wsg at 1:26 PM on August 16, 2007

Then again, you may not be referring to the written part...
posted by wsg at 1:28 PM on August 16, 2007

45 hours! you are joking?

i took 30 hours before passing mine and my friends mocked me for years.

when you feel confident, do the test.
posted by ascullion at 1:42 PM on August 16, 2007

Nothing beats practice, but you have to approach it with the same attitude you would a lesson you're paying for. If you're just driving around with friends, it'll prepare you for real driving, but the test isn't real driving. It's 20 minutes or so of concentration.

Take your test outside of London, if you can, or at least outside of anywhere within Zones 1-2. If you have family out in the sticks, see if you can put in some L-plate practice time and then apply to take a test. You may lose some of the familiarity that your instructor offers w/r/t local test routes,

Ideally, put in for your test before the late autumn, so that the weather and the light is still good. It's just useful not to be distracted by having to fiddle with windscreen wipers or lights during the actual test.

Drive everywhere - in the suburbs, on the motorway, near to where you'll take the test.

Yes, though not on the motorway please -- not with L-plates and a provisional licence. An officious copper could nab you.

ascullion: are your friends all minicab drivers?
posted by holgate at 2:43 PM on August 16, 2007

5 Hours training, passed first try in Canada. Do you have to take the test in London, or could you do it in a smaller rural town?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:31 PM on August 16, 2007

Michigan was I think 6 hours of class, 6 hours in the car, and then 40 hours (10 at night) with a parent over the course of a year. Passed the test on my first try. If you're 18, you just take the test.
posted by awesomebrad at 3:36 PM on August 16, 2007

Drive everywhere - in the suburbs, on the motorway, near to where you'll take the test.

Yes, though not on the motorway please -- not with L-plates and a provisional licence. An officious copper could nab you.

Oops sorry - where I learned driving on the highway was part of the test.
posted by goo at 5:02 PM on August 16, 2007

I'm not sure how relevant the US #s would be, since the UK test is HARD. "The current national pass rate only stands at around 43% and for first-timers this figure drops even further. The average learner driver needs 2-3 attempts at the test before they achieve their license." US pass rates are probably around 80% or so.
posted by smackfu at 5:05 PM on August 16, 2007

I wanna @*&!ing drive

Just so you know (and I'm guessing this may be different in the UK). After accidentally banging the car behind him when pulling out of the parking lot for his test (as of yet my brother still does not have a license, but to be fair he hates cars with a passion and now lives in a city), he said something along the lines of "damn" or, heavens, the F-word.

He was told by the prim and proper lady sitting next to him and doing the test that she would have failed him even if he hadn't hit the car, for using dirty language.

Um, just so you know. Bring some soap with you the day of the test.

Note: I was a horrible driver and had to "stay on" in driving school, which I think is probably a first. It took me a few years to get tolerable and I'm still only an adequate driver. I also get distractly really really -- oh look! Trees
posted by Deathalicious at 5:09 PM on August 16, 2007

Oh, I missed half a point: your instructor will know the standard routes taken by the local examiners, which is an advantage, but everyone I know who's had multiple fails has taken the test in residential London (zones 2-3 or thereabouts).
posted by holgate at 7:56 PM on August 16, 2007

Response by poster: Deathalicious: I will not swear.

crinklebat: I will bless my instructor.

wsg: I passed the paper part already.

holgate: somewhere like Hammersmith roundabout in peak hour would be equivalent in London

I get your point, but Hammersmith roundabout in peak hour would more likely only prepare me for sitting in traffic. Perhaps I'll try the Great Cambridge Road on a mid morning. *gulp*

My local driving test centre has the lowest first time pass rate in the country (just over 25%) so I have thought of taking the test elsewhere, but perhaps I should just move to Canada. Oh Canada! - home of Joni Mitchell and 5 hours' driving practice. And my friends won't laugh at me when I'm all the way over there.

Thanks all. Just over a month till D Day.
posted by Myeral at 12:51 AM on August 17, 2007

Best answer: I took my test for the first time about two weeks ago and passed. My advice? Drive. Drive as much as you can, not just with your instructor. I drove about 18 hours with the instructor, and about 50 hours with my lovely (and patient) wife.

Tackle all sorts of driving from rural to urban and everything in between. Practice your manoeuvres until you can bang them out without thinking.

When you take your test tell the examiner that you are nervous (you will be), and don't worry about asking them to repeat instructions. Take your time over doing the manoeuvres and don't forget to look, look and look again. When you look in your mirrors (as you should be every ten seconds or so) remember to move your head, not just your eyes. Try not to be hesitant when pulling out from a junction etc.

If you make a mistake, don't dwell on it. Forget it and move on. It's a fair bet the examiner will make you pull over where it is safe and then move off again just so they can see you look from blind spot to blind spot (Kerb to road) before moving off.

Remember POM and PMSM. Using your indicator when you do need to is a minor fault. Not using it when you need to will fail you. If in doubt, use your indicator!

One final tip: It's not the end of the world if you fail. If you take that attitude into the test rather than "I MUST pass", you'll be a lot better off (and more relaxed).

Good luck!
posted by ninthart at 2:16 AM on August 17, 2007

PMSM should be MPMSM (Mirror-Position-Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre). Sorry.
posted by ninthart at 2:19 AM on August 17, 2007

Relax. Seriously. My UK driving test was the most pressured thing I've done, and I'm reasonably sure I only passed because I made what I (wrongly) assumed was a terminal error early on and then relaxed enough to do OK.

You don't say how old you are, which probably makes a difference, but there is a confidence element to all this. Taking a test and failing often causes a few doubts to enter the mind, which isn't helpful. Take it when you feel ready, not when you've done x lessons.

The whole "I only took x lessons before I passed" debate is one best left for 17 year olds in school. There are so many variables (area, time period across which the lessons are taken, learning styles, tutor...) that it's not worth getting concerned about. I took about 30, but with a load of extra practice - I'd only get concerned if you hit three figures.

Good luck.
posted by unless I'm very much mistaken at 2:43 AM on August 17, 2007

I learnt to drive round SW central London. Hammersmith gyratory isn't as bad as people think - I regularly navigated it on a bicycle. Now, the Clapham one-way system was my real bĂȘte-noir, and when I could navigate that without white-knuckles I felt about ready to pass the test.

And what someone else said; your instructor should know the test routes used by the local centre, and run you through them.

I failed to pass my first driving test because we got stuck in a traffic jam and didn't have time to do all the necessary manoeuvres. That was annoying and expensive, so there's a tip for you; book a test outside rush hour.
posted by Luddite at 3:02 AM on August 17, 2007

also, don't feel bad if you don't pass the first time - i heard the other day that the London pass rate is only about 40% these days.

(which, given the driving i've seen, is frankly ludicrous!)
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:12 AM on August 17, 2007

Response by poster: unless I'm very much mistaken: You don't say how old you are, which probably makes a difference

Oh, it does make a difference. That's a fact. And, er, no - I won't say how old I am - not on the internets anyway.

Luddite: I failed to pass my first driving test because we got stuck in a traffic jam

That seems grossly unfair to you.

Great advice and thanks for the wishes of luck.
posted by Myeral at 4:16 AM on August 17, 2007

My instructor told me to adjust the rear view mirror so that I had to move my head slightly to see properly in it. Check your mirrors constantly, don't speed, and if they try to put a second tester in the car with you ("because the other tester is being assessed") tell them to fuck off (I failed my second test because of this. Completely unfamiliar amount of weight in the car and an idiot in the back getting in the way of the rear view mirror. And double the scary tester quotient. How I wish now that when they asked 'is that okay?' I'd kicked up a fuss instead of being so bloody meek and terrified that I agreed)

My big scary obstacle was the roundabout at the A2/M25 junction. I do it in my sleep these days. (I live in Kent, passed in Gillingham. I wouldn't have wanted to try in London)
posted by corvine at 5:48 AM on August 17, 2007

The fact that you seem to be concerned about attempting the test would suggest you're not ready for it...

Anyway, if you feel like having a go get a test booked. If you fail you just try again. Lots of people need more than one go for one reason or another...

Good luck if you decide to have a go ;)
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:52 PM on August 17, 2007

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