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Friday 22 December 2006

Vroom! [Spiny]

Congratulations ('grats' in Wowish) to teh Lurker for passing his driving test!!!!
Just be prepared for how frustrating driving can be:


  1. I passed first time too at the ripe age of 21. Had just been on a 3 day bevvy fest in blackpool on the leadup to the test.
    8am test too, just chatted to the old boy who was the examiner. Feeding him tales of drunken lads in blackpool, at the end "read the highway code" was what I was told before being let loose on the roads.
    Name n shame, are there any 1st time fails within EED or worse someone who can't legally drive on the roads here?

  2. Oh yeah, I failed first time. For overtaking parked cars without leaving enough of a gap, in case a stupid person opens the door without looking. Examiner must have been an Intelligent Design-ist ;)

  3. The pass rate for practical tests in cars is now 30-40 percent. Things have changed dramatically since most of you would have done it. The bottom line is that they've made it pretty involving to get a license now, you can't wing it without lessons since you'll have absolutely no chance to learn all of the stupid stuff which will get you failed on the practical. I got 4 minor faults for not checking my blindspots religiously at every possibly juncture when you're supposed to do so.
    The other thing that's changed since times gone by is the 35 question theory test which has about 20 questions as idiot-detector and the remaining you really have to know the answer and hence study up before hand.
    There's also Hazard Perception as part of the theory test where they play a video and you're supposed to click on hazzards. This is very weird if you're used to computer games because there's no clear cut time when you should click, so what you have to do is click a moderate amount around anything that might be a hazard and hope your click fell in the maximum points area. The video quality on the tutorial DVDs is apalling so I trained myself to click as soon as I saw something, which ended up being too soon on the very nice video in the actual test cetre. So I clicked twice and I'm pretty sure my second click was the one that pulled off a pass rate though much lower score than I got off the DVDs.
    The whole thing lessons, test fees and all that isn't cheap either. Just for me it's taken around 40 lessons at around £18 a pop. £20 for the theory test, £59 for the practical. £800 nicker to learn to drive. No wonder so many people are driving around without licences but I can understand it really, the standard of driving on the road is just horrendous and we hardly need more cars.
    The missus has been doing this along with me and she'll do her test in Jan/Feb. I'll start the 'Pass Plus' scheme in the new year which is six hours of lessons covering motorways, adverse conditions etc. This gets a discount off motor insurance which is welcome.
    So over a year of lessons and two shotbox motor vehicles later, I was fed up with driving nice vehicles for lessons and shitboxes at home so we bought a new Mazda 3 which should turn up in a week. Even with our shitbox I can't really describe what it's like just jumping in our car and going up to the shopping centre and coming back with groceries. After 14 years in the UK without a license, every time we go anywhere there's this sort of expect level of hassle of dealing with public transport and driving just seems so... easy.
    In summer 2007 we also plan to do things like drive to music festivals and maybe take some weekend breaks to places we've wanted to visit like Cornwall, Wales and Scotland. Then the following year we can look at Europe. Exciting stuff for us as you can imagine.

  4. Forty Lessons.
    Good god, I had 15 lessons when I took my test. 1 hour slots and had the instructor drop me at the pub after each of them.
    I'm am OK driver, my cousin is something else mind you. From South Africa reads maps in the dark driving through Edinburghs twisted cobbled streets etc... I just concentrate on the road, not good enough to do fancy stuff.
    A personal car is one of the most liberating things you can have IMO. The goverment must hate it, we drove from Donegal to Glasgow in 6 hours once. Beautiful drive as well, just do what you say mate and go the trips.
    We've been meaning to do that sorta thing too, but with the jallopy we've got the now even a drive to Stirling on boxing day gives me the heebie jeebies.
    We popped into Glasgow city centre with the kids yesterday and took the bus for a change and to avoid the mental car parks. Embarassing, my kids acted like it was a huge adventure being on a double decker. Whooping with delight at stuff they can't see from the backseat of our shitheap normally.
    BUsbound neds weren't amused so played their god awful bumpbump music on their phones as loud as they could.

  5. Cancel the car order Lurks! You're causing global warming!
    Oh and it took me three goes to pass
    Merry Xmas everyone ...
    Dah Houmous

  6. Second time pass here too - oddly enough, I failed my first on a similar thing to spiny - not making sure there was enough room when pulling out from behind a parked car. Bah.
    I didn't have the hazard perception test, but had the theory to take - think I had about 25 lessons total.
    Out of interest, what's the feeling on periodic recertification? Am I the only one who shits myself every time I see some old fogey who blatantly passed their test during The War behind the wheel?

  7. I'm not sure, are old folks really the biggest threat on the road? It seems to me is basically men under the age of 40 or so which are the biggest problem. Driving too fast, confidence in their driving ability which is way past that of reality. In my extremely limited experience, woman are pretty bad at anything involving spatial awareness such as maneouvres but most of the time on the road they're driving sensibly with some regard to others, which I guess is why they're in so much less accidents.
    However the amount of times I've seen blokes drive like arseholes, dangerous arseholes at that, it's remarkable. I was thinking, you know how those commercial drivers have numbers on the back saying "Am I driving well? Call blah blah"? Eg. "Am I driving like a complete cunt? Call blah blah". Makes me think... you could introduce a scheme where any licenced driver can place a complaint against another.
    Above a certain amount of them, bosh recertification or something else like that. It'd never work in reality I guess, but it'd make people think twice wouldn't it?

  8. Muz you are right, up to a point. Old Folks are a nightmare on the road, the slow speed the turning without notice. It's all there, the doctor should be checking their meds and conditions and at some point say Old Jon is just not stable enough to drive.
    Overall though it's the yoofs. Big stereos, banging tunes, pals in the motor, maybe some bevvy/hash who are the cause (and to be fair victims) of lots of road accidents.
    Recertification, you're having a laugh. I'm ten times safer on the road now than before I 'passed'. Passing is the min. requirement of safety before being passed roadworthy, experience gives you the rest or you're put to it.

  9. I would rather have a medtest every year after the age of, say, 55. Checking reactiontimes, movement and eyesight.
    Insurance companies over here actually boosted the cost for women in their 40´s because they found out women in raising kids age caused fuckloads of accidents. Apparently they spend way, way too much time trying to do the "oh, im a women and can feed me kids, talk on the phone and plan tomorrow at the same time", while driving. Oh, and when you got a t-junktion and some cunt just drives right out into traffic its almost every time either a woman or an old cunt.
    That said, young guys DO drive like utter fucks, differance is that they just hurt themselfs, the car and anyone stupid enought to be in their car. Driving off the road into a tree while doing double the legal speed when it turns, well, doesnt hurt anyone else. Its a classic darwin :)


  10. "That said, young guys DO drive like utter fucks, differance is that they just hurt themselfs"

    Okay... So these guys just manage to crash into trees and never crash into other cars, motorbikes and bystanders at all. That remarkably considerate of them really.
    On the other subject, women in their 40s in the UK end up with the lowest insurance premiums of anyone. There's several insurers that *only* insure that group. So while I'm sure that scientist in sweden have proved that woman have brain of squirrel, over here they don't just decide this shit magically out of thin air - it's based on actual statistics.
    I'm a bloke so I wouldn't like it to be true either, but I cannot find any other explanation. These guys don't just make women's insurance cheaper because they feel like it. There's huge commercial imperetive to set premiums based upon your risk. And women plain and simple are less likely to be involved in an accident at all.
    The other thing I hear men say to explain this fact away is that women drive in such a way that causes men to end up crashing and thereby become part of the statistic. I'd just urge you to think carefully about that. It just isn't, in my view, a realistic scenario either.
    The thing is, right, even as a new super-careful driver I susprise myself about how I pick up speed and try to do things at a speed which just isn't necessary. My driving instructor (a woman) asked me many times, why are you doing this? I say, I don't know. I'm not trying to speed, I'm not in a hurry. But I know what it is. I just want to push the envelope a little. What do you learn from doing that corner at 25mph? Absolutely nothing. That's the difference between men and woman. We're curious and we want to push the limit, women generally don't.
    So, sure, we're *technically* better drivers because we're faster and have better spatial awareness but when it all boils down to it, we drive like cunts because it's in our nature.

  11. Ah well, i was begging to be misunderstood there. But they did hike the insurance up for women in that age because they DO incredibly stupid shit. And i dont know how your insurance system works, but we got it split up in 3 parts. First one you got to have on the car, it covers the other part, as in the guys car you just ran into. The other two are for your own shit. Not surprisingly a young guy is absolutely fucked for insurance that covers his own shit, but it aint that bloody for damage that he might cause to others. It was however the first one that was hiked up for women.
    Speed dont generally cause accidents, what causes accidents are stupid cunts not paying attention to traffic. And in my experience (what i see as threats to me personally) the ones too look out for are: vans with company logos, salesmen in saab 95 estates and volvo v70´s, your guys probably drives mondeos or some vauxhall shit (age doesnt matter, at all), really, really old people that can barely look over the steering wheel and women in minivans with lots of kids. ONCE have i experienced a young guy in a car with enough wings to call it a plane cause anything even remotely dangerous for me. The other cunts i mentioned cause close calls every other day, atleast. They do this by driving way, way too close, changing lanes without looking in the mirrors, driving out from parkinglots into the street without looking at all, driving in traffic at night with full fucking floodlights, not using proper wintertires (oh but these enviromentally friendly narrow nonstudded tires are cheap! *DIE CUNT DIE*) etc etc. Really stupid stuff, none related to speeding. But why it aint really targetted is of course because its fucking hard to catch compared to catch someone speeding. And you dont have alot of whining, organised, voting kids that are annoyed at some specific agegroups behaviour in traffic :)
    And for the playing part, i rather be facing lets say Beej, who has played around and knows his and his cars limit, when a large animal runs out in front of him than some doodelidoright who has never even floored the brakes let alone made a manouver to miss multiple obstacles under braking...

  12. The British Department for Transport has a system called STATS19 that logs all causes of road accidents from all UK police forces which was trialed for about 10 years and is now fully operational. Some conclusions from the 2005 review that caught my eye;
    Driver / Rider error or reaction was involved in 66% of all accidents and the most frequently reported type for each severity of accidents. This includes failing to look properly (32% of all accidents), failure to judge others speed (18%), poor turn / manoeuvre (15%) and loss of control (14%).
    Going too fast / being too close was the second most frequently reported category involved in 28% of all accidents, but rising to to 32% of fatal accidents. Eight times more males than female drivers are involved in road accidents caused by exceeding the speed limit.
    On average 2.4 contributory factors are involved in any one accident.
    Now that I do >30,000 miles a year, it is quite shocking how many accidents I go past. The crew on the A2 / M2 basically clear up pieces of vehicle and all too frequently pieces of persons on a daily basis. This is naturally going to make you a more cautious and experienced driver. Two and a half years in, I notice the following danger factors myself;
    1. Continental left hand drive lorries changing lane. Very frequently involved and just blind. Mega dangerous and the thing to watch out for beyond all others.
    2. Non-continental idiots changing lane. Seen it so many times and interesting just how much the stats show this up.
    3. Speed. I've dropped mine considerably. It's simply about survivability if something goes wrong.
    4. Car. Get something with some sufficient metal round it. Its not the big cars you see pancaked. TVR / other fibre glass concoctions? Carry an egg slice in your tool set to help the emergency services pick you up....
    5. Bikes. Don't make me laugh. I've seen more people on the asphalt in two and a half years than I would like to remember. Just observation, please save me from the legions of bikey comments. No really :)
    6. Tail-gaters. Relatively infrequent on the stretch-commuter run since people are obviously aware of the dangers and are very good at flashing each other to change lane / making way / keeping distance. Inside M25 or in non-commute time this is different and can be very dangerous. I try and manage the traffic behind me as well as in front by enforcing my distance to the car in front of me to make a point (funnily enough this generally works really well once the tailgater gets the idea) and if necessary, a dab on the rear fog lights to get them back. Not a brake test as that is dangerous. Of course, best of all, there's a difference between a numpty and an idiot. For idiots, let them pass.
    7. Oh and although we are not a low-light scandinavian country I have adopted their practice too - minimum of side lights on at all times.

  13. The old folks are the most minor of dangers on our roads, this much is clear. They've probably got far more hours behind the wheel than most young joyriders. Old folk tend to realise that it is only they who can decide for themselves when they're not longer able to drive responsibly through deteriorating vision or speed of mind and so forth.
    About British driving standards. They're excellent compared to non-Northern Europeans but we could make improvements.
    It can be argued that we should consider regular and compulsary theory testing. A practical would be too time consuming and a real PITA, but the theory test could be made compulsary perhaps every ten years. There should be no fee, we must not complicate an already complicated system of insurance and tax and licenses and tests. Additionally, it should be made (or remain?) compulsary for those who are convicted of an offence to retake their practical test.
    So a regularity of testing would provide some safeguards on the general standard of British driver. It would help ensure we all know for instance road signs. We have broadly speaking the best signage in the world, but things do move on, eg. forced adoption of Euro metrics, currently being implemented by stealth (new road signs at 2/3 mile = 100m).
    Continental lorries are a problem. There was an article recently about North Wales Police stopping truckers who were driving to Ireland. It's quite some distance and some just hadn't slept. The article identified problems with some truck drivers being unable to speak English, which is a slight concern. And then there's the old concern of employers pressuring drivers and thus they don't sleep... and so on. In any case, more money is required to nip this in the bud with strict checking of all trucks (not just 10% of trucks!) at all seaports, before they entire the road network.
    Motorway risks. Since I moved out of London I do a lot of motorway driving. I see a lot of middle lane driving that causes congestion but not really accidents. We currently have no way of dealing with this directly, save for other road users "reminding" with lights or indicators. Awkward and slightly aggressive. Tends to be taken badly. But middle lane driving suggests that the driver does not understood the fundamental principle of overtaking lanes, suggesting they are in fact morons. It would be good to address this. The number of outside lane speed freaks that I witness is very small (although I don't drive at rush hour). Additionally, I am not a slow driver on the motorway, but I justify this by being focused on the road and being in control of my car, not doing my makeup or on the phone to Sebastian about the marketing meeting (what is it about the M4 around Reading? There's a cluster of nut jobs there every time).
    Could we have a national phone number to report morons? Well we could, but then what? Insurers won't really do anything, even if forced to do so. The Police won't do anything with the data. The driver probably won't give a shit if they were to receive an automated letter. The system would be widely open to abuse.
    The best development of this idea that I've come up with is to market a digital camcorder for dashboards. Price point should be £100, ideally less. It just sits there recording a wide angle forward view. It could be GPS to record speed, and it should be high quality and high framerate. It is a passive system, always recording, always recycling storage space. When you press the red button, the last 5 minutes are stored to memory card and are not wiped (note to gamers: this is how GameCam differs to Fraps). Video is tangible and provides a document of something that has happened almost as well as even traffic police (much in decline since the rise of the GATSO).
    So a video of poor driving is a form of evidence, which provides a platform for some sort of action, which at the moment would have to be private or even public prosecution - especially of those lane-swerving rain-speeding late-breaking bike under-taking buffoons.

  14. Update: Returning to this blog in 2007, there's been a couple of developments concerning the government making noises about toughening up the proceedure to obtain a driving license. However I also noticed an older September '06 feature on the BBC which is worth a look, following calls for 12-months worth of lessons before the driving test. Now I took 12-months, longer in fact, but I wasn't really in a hurry and most of this time I did 1 hour-long lesson a week which you could describe as casual at best. Again the core reason this is being examined is because young drivers (clearly the bulk of new drivers, unlikely myself) represent a dispreportionate amount of road deaths. "Only 6% of licence holders are aged 17-24 but they account for more than 27% of all deaths and serious injuries on the roads."
    The recent development is that they're considering making the driving practical test more difficult, presumably with a goal to achieving the 12-months of lessons to get to the required standard. This is something I can comment on as probably the only one around here that has gone through the modern driving test experience. It's actually pretty tough. There's a 35 part theory test which you book seperately which has proper questions in it which you need to research. There's also Hazard perception, a video test sequence which is kind of flawed by probably does a pretty good job of making sure someone is alert to road developments. Then there's the practical. I was highly over-prepared with a year's worth of lessons, considerably cramming before hand and my standard determined methodical approach. I still got 11 minor faults out of a possible 15. So a comfortable pass but not a walk in the park. had I not checked a blind-spot one more time, it would have been marked habitual and I would have failed. The pass rate for the test is 30-40% depending on the test centre. So basically what I'm saying is I think it's hard enough.
    The core thought behind the movement for longer period of lessons and a harder test can be summed up by the transport secretary Stephen Ladyman's comments:

    "We have developed this attitude that you first learn to pass the test and then you learn to drive."

    That's true but I don't think this is a recent development, I think it's how people have always learned to drive and I don't really see a huge problem with this. Until you're by yourself in a car, taking regular trips on your actual daily routine rather than being consistently coached by someone in the passenger seat, you are basically training for a test and not gaining hugely valuable driving experience.
    Since I passed a couple of weeks ago, I think I've gained more experience and confidence in driving (I even give it a bit of welly around windy country roads with a degree of confidence) than I did during a couple of months of those lessons in 2006. This is somehow a bad thing. Presumably because we're worried that at some point you have a driver who has passed, who has no L plate, but is inexperienced.
    I would respectfully point out to Stephen Ladyman and anyone else commenting on this issue that a driver having just passed their test actually drives far more technically correct than anyone I see on the road. These guys are using indicators all the time and looking in lanes before they move. They lack a hell of a lot of experience and confronted by new experiences may well be a danger, I agree.
    However it's my assertion that tougher tests and extended lessons aren't necessarily the way forward. One simple does truly learn to drive, particularly when dealing with the threat of the loons you encounter on the road, after you've passed the test. I don't believe for a second that young men being an unfortunate road statistics will improve if they are technically trained to a higher level. Their driver training is not what turns them into a statistic, it's just an overall lack of experience coupled with that teenage tendancy to being a competitive dickhead.
    They'll still pass, buy a car and then drive like complete cunts and crash while trying to impress their girlfriends. 6 months or 12 months of lessons or not. We actually have a large enough problem of illegal drivers due to how difficult the process is right now, without making it worse. Also the test facilities nationwide are at about capacity as it is, we don't want to see something like an Irish situation developing where there's a 12-month wait for a test!
    What may actually be useful, I think, would be an adoption of the old Australian system (the current one seems to be more complicated and I can't make head or tail of it) so that after you've passed your driving test you get a provision licence for 12 months. During this period you should have to wear a P plate to notify other drivers that you are inexperienced. This serves two purposes, notifying other drivers and also a psychological thing for the driver, they're being advertised as having little experience so they wont want to behave like cocks. Hopefully.
    In addition I think there should be a zero tollerance on alcohol. The existing situation of half the total points (6 instead of 12) before licence is revoked is sufficient I think.
    There are other possible measures such as reducing the power of a car available for newly qualified drivers. I'm not sure that this will be particularly effective since I submit someone is quite capable of being a road statistic in an ancient 1.2L nova as an Imprezza but if it can be shown to reduce the statistic then sure, I'd support that as well.

  15. Over here we used to have insanely difficult tests which were eventually ditched because it couldnt be proved to gain anything. What we do got however is a probation system. When you lose your licence here it is for a fixed time, and when that time pass, i think, a year you have to do the whole shit all over again. if it wasnt that serious you might just lose it for a couple of months. The probation works in a way that if you lose your licence within 2 years, no matter for what, you have to do it all over.
    the thing you mention with the P plate is absolute madness though, we get to practise driving with a parent (or someone who had a licence for over 5 years). you are supposed to to put this plate on the car. now, almost no one uses it, and i havnt heard of anyone getting busted for not using it either, because it works like a red blanket infront of a bull. everyone around suddenly *needs* to be infront of this vehicle. its actually freaky to watch it, it doesnt even matter what speed your doing, everyone needs to pass anyway. oncoming traffic? no problem, the practise driver needs to be overtaken.
    it is a really interesting subject this. how can you get a young guy to stop seeking the limit? how do you stop kids from climbing trees? how do you stop them from doing drugs? how do you stop them from trying to beat the highscore in a game? it has nothing to do with what they know, nothing to do with education. its just this *need* to master it. i mean, i still do it. 4 wheel slides are fun as fuck, just because of the difficulty involved, and of course the feeling of not being 100% in control :). the differance is that i wont do it at a blind corner. and i wont speed where there might be kids running around. but there is just no way anyone could have tought me this, or changed my attitude towards it.

  16. I thought there were P plates already for UK newly passed drivers.