Monday 5 October 2009

driving fail

Gotta get it off my chest: I failed my driving test. Argh, blast, dammit and many, many expletives.

The fact that I have to take a driving test at all is the subject of another rant, but suffice it to say that I put this particular fail down to Californian instincts vs. British driving rules. The examiner told me that we were approaching a mini roundabout, and that I should take the first exit to the left.

Now, here's what a Brit would do: approach with caution, signal left but look right, while down shifting, and maintain speed if it was safe to enter the roundabout (in other words, you don't necessarily have to stop before entering a roundabout.)

Here's what I did: approached with caution, signaled left and looked left by instinct. At this point, I noticed a group of kids who were trying to cross where I needed to come out of the roundabout, so I was concerned about them. I was not at a complete stop, but I wasn't moving very fast. Still, I guess I had entered the roundabout by now (or was just about to; it all happened so fast neither of us really knew the exact story.) To my detriment, I didn't look right quite soon enough - in that split second, a car zoomed around from my right (to be fair, she had the right of way, being in the roundabout already). I reacted fine - braked hard and let her through - but the examiner felt it was necessary for him to brake as well.


Strangely (from my point of view), he had no concern about the kids, who (in my opinion) were a major road hazard. But in the UK, pedestrians stop for cars. If they stood there all afternoon waiting for someone to let them cross, the examiner wouldn't have batted an eyelash. If they ran into the road and caused a multi-car pile-up, he would have been satisfied as long as I had looked right first and done everything by the book. Very strange.

Now, I cannot blame anyone but myself for not looking right soon enough. Like I said, it's 20 years of instinct looking left first, then right. I had the same problem in Japan so I usually over-correct and look both ways multiple times before moving out. The kids distracted me, again, because I am used to planning ahead in order to stop for pedestrians. In my world, the other cars are doing the same thing so everyone would be slowing down for them.

But not here. Sigh!

Aside from that, the test went really well. I aced reversing around a corner (don't get me started on just how inane this is) and did the parallel parking perfectly. The examiner didn't really have much to complain about. But the roundabout was enough to push him (and me) over the edge.

So now I have to do this all over again. In January. Spending more of my precious, hard-earned cash for a licence that I kind of sort of already have.

At least it's a bit of a tradition to fail your driving test on the first attempt in the UK, so I'm living up to expectations. And we don't have a car so I don't really need a licence anyway. Meanwhile, I'll keep walking and cycling everywhere. It's greener and better exercise than driving. So there. Hmph.

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