Driving Assessment

This morning I had a session with a driving instructor for a little “test prep” for the practical test. I got a chance to review the maneuvers required for the test and get some pointers on what they look for and what are considered faults. Overall it went very well. His synopsis was that I just needed to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” before taking the test.

A few things that I need to watch out for are…

Six point check. This means to check out the rear left window, front left window and mirror, front window, rear view mirror, front right window and mirror, and finally the rear right window. It is required before making any movement or maneuver. It doesn’t matter if you are parked next to a brick wall, you are still required to check the mirrors and windows on that side of the car. I found myself artificially checking each point, then “looking for real” to see if anything was coming like I normally would.

Hand brake. I referred to it as the emergency brake and the instructor didn’t know what I was talking about. It is used much more over here and is required when stopping at a traffic light, stopping in traffic on an incline, starting on an incline (a trick I actually used at time on steep inclines in the States) and in the middle of some maneuvers such as a three point turn.

Round abouts. Obviously we don’t have these in the States and they take a little getting used to. I could use a bit of practice to get more comfortable with them.
On the actual test, in addition to driving around for a half hour, there are up to five specific maneuvers that I may be asked to perform.

  • Backing into a Parking Space — Just get it between the lines, move slowly (quick movements scare driving inspectors), and use the mirrors.
  • Parallel Parking — This was a bit awkard being on the other side of the road, but not difficult. The key point not to fail is to check your right hand side when you start to turn for any traffic; no signal is needed.
  • Backing Around a Corner — Not exactly sure when I’d use this one, but from a parked position along the curb just past a side street, reverse the car onto the side street staying along the curb. Key points not to fail — check the right hand side for traffic when starting the turn and keep the car next to the curb at all times; no signal is needed.
  • Three-Point Turn — There is actually a different name they use here, but that is what it is called in the States. There is one big potential gotcha on this one, it is required over here to use the hand-brake at each point of the turn while changing gears and checking mirrors. I wonder how many people really do that…
  • Emergency Stop — When the inspector says stop, hit the brakes. The key to not failing is “finishing” the maneuver by putting the car in first gear, applying the hand brake and doing a six point check.

I also found out today that it will take about four weeks to schedule my practical test and I can schedule to use the instructor’s car. It also appears that the expiration of my US license isn’t such a catastophe. I just won’t be able to drive until I pass the practical test, but I don’t need to go through 12 months with a Learner’s permit and 45 hours of instruction as previously thought. That is a relief!

My theory test is on Thursday — I’ll let you know how it goes!

This entry was posted in Life in London. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Driving Assessment