13 July, 2007

Man on Wheels

Every one as a child would have dreamt of driving a car. Especially boys have the habit of taking anything in the form of round, and use it as steering and run on the road murmuring "Drrr.......r..........m...............................”. As a child even I have done it. It was a great thrill when I learnt to pedal a cycle. Same way, hours of learning to ride a motor cycle cannot be forgotten. I have also gone on driving classes in India and learned to drive a car which was really exciting. But the traffic rules and driving standards differ from country to country. I knew those were different standard and always wanted to learn it well.

After coming to UK, I did not intend to learn driving and never wanted to drive with a foreign license(Indian). It is illegal to drive and you should have obtained a International Driving Permit before arriving in UK. The vehicles are driven in a much disciplined manner and there are great driving standards maintained in western world. Few of my friends were eager to drive and though they were half baked, they still took the risk of driving. I never wanted to do that, because having not known 100 percent, you put others in risk. This I thought was unfair. Also, I was sick of being on heavy traffics, having been on road for fifteen years in India. I really wanted to peacefully use the common transport and walk, and cycle rather than rushing on the road. In countries like UK since the public transport is easily available, there was no pressure for me to learn driving. Also, my work was just at the end of the road, from my residence. Having lived few years, and the family growing big, we felt the need of a family vehicle and thus I entered into the process of learning to drive. We need to pass a theory test and a Hazard test together. Though the theory test proves your knowledge, the Hazard test is a skill on clicking the mouse. There will be 15 clippings, which comes one by one on clicking the mouse. A camera is being fixed on a car and the recording is done. So, when the clipping starts you will feel like you are driving the car. As you are going from the driver’s seat, there will be few hazards happening, and likely to happen on the road. So, when you are just approaching a hazard, you are supposed to click the mouse. If you could see the hazard at the right moment and click then you get a good score. Very first time I practised it at home, I could not score a pass mark. I tried two or three times and it was a great fun. Then my son got attracted to it and he scored higher marks than me. He did not know any of the traffic rules, but could score more marks. When I asked him tips, he suggested that it has to be treated like a Video game or Computer game. The problem with the hazard test is if you click too many times, you will not get any mark for identifying the hazard and you may have to go to the next clipping. We had to buy several CD’s to practise various kinds of hazard. The funniest part of this test is, even though as a driver, if you identify a hazard like a cyclist crossing a junction from a corner, it has been programmed in such a way, that you get mark only if the car reaches a particular place and you click the mouse. You should not click neither in advance, nor a second late. Being an experienced person, I used to see those hazards well in advance, and never scored mark for that, because of clicking in advance. The final day came and I cleared the Theory exam which is of very good standard. I heard that this Hazard perception test is not in USA. Only after passing your theory test, you will be allowed to take your practical test.

Now you need to learn the next skill. It is not very easy to pass a driving test in UK. I have heard just before the hazard perception test was introduced, most of the truck drivers were asked to take a practise test, and test the software and 70% of them failed. I wish they all should be asked to take a driving test nowadays in UK. I do not know how many of them would pass. The driving standard is very high. Many of my friends who have driven in USA, having come to UK have told me that the roads are very narrow and driving is not as easier as in USA. I do agree. There had been a lot of talk about the way practical driving tests are conducted in UK. I would say you need Good luck to pass your driving test. Even the last minute just before entering the driving test centre, you will be forced to make a mistake by the inexperienced driver ahead. Especially in London, it is so difficult, since there are lot of illegal drivers, and drivers with those international driving permit. Even if you are perfect, I do not know from where they come and cause problem while you take a test. They rush up and scare you when you take a three point turn, or a left corner reverse, and even if you do not make a mistake, they force you to make a mistake. Driving test is a real nightmare. However best you drive you never know. I have had many moments in the past having driven wonderfully during the test and waiting for the result from the Examiner’s mouth. The disappointment grows in large, when they point out some silly mistake. Those mistakes have a benefit of doubt. For example, waiting to let a car pass on the main road could be marked as ‘Undue Hesitation’. Once while I crossed a pedestrian crossing, there was an Old lady chatting with someone else busily and never showed any sign of crossing, but the examiner pressed the brake and said that I should have waited. If I had braked there were possibilities of him saying that I showed undue hesitation? If somebody in UK said that they have passed driving in their first attempt, they were merely lucky. (According to me they should be the luckiest person on the earth!).

OK! Why all this moaning! I was lucky enough just few weeks before to be qualified to drive on the roads of UK.

YES! I passed my driving test in UK (and fit enough to be a driving instructor which I will definitely do in the future). I am happy at last my driving skills are recognised. I owe the credit to all of my instructors who always believed my driving was of great standard, and it was most unfortunate for not having passed before. The excitement is only to know that if I had not done this time, I should have started from the scratch, since my theory pass was getting invalid the next week.

The above picture was sent by one of my colleague on hearing the news! It was captioned as 'Someone got a photo of Bal’s driving test' … LOL...I liked the sense of humour.


32 comments:

arvindh said...

Good one! You also owe it to your son for preparing you for the hazard test!

Kavi said...

Congratulations ! Once again! I am sure you will drive people..around !

Interesting to note that you have to go through all this to get a licence ! Influential India tips its way through! Thats the greatest hazard around !

vatsan said...

have u tried driving nowdays in india? i bet it should be scarier than ur test :-).

Btwn congrats on passing the test.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Arvindh,

Thanks. My pointed out your comment and took his thanks. LOL

Kavi,

Yes it really difficult here to get a driving license. I was determined to get it. This is another experience in my life which I will never forget. How to face failures and attempt again? Most of them get frustrated and hesitate to spend such a huge money. Driving classes are being charged £20 - £25 per class which is roughly one hour. It was a test for my determination and even my family people thought I was incompetent. But it is not so. It requires a great talent to drive for an examiner. Also, great luck is required so that the other drivers do not come on your way to confuse you and mess up while we take a test. Once while I was taking a roundabout in a test, an Asian female driver indicated turning left by switching on her left indicator and suddenly came forward, which was very freak. Before I could realise it, the examiner applied brakes and failed me.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Vatsan,

Welcome after a long time to my blog. No.. I cannot imagine of driving nowadays in India. Everytime when I visit Chennai, I wonder how I was driving in Mount Road during those time. I could not travel in Auto and Taxis and just could not imagine. Because you had a Enfield motorcycle, and it was my favourite, I preferred to sit along with you.

By the way, could you please send your web link by mail or reply in this comment. I am unable to see your posts nowadays. I get page error always.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Balaji !!!
May I ask you how many attempts ? I had to go through this gruel for over 5 times. Sixth time lucky, I would say. I admit the great put off is the amount of money you need to spent on driving lessons and not to mention the exam fees. For every time I failed, I had to earmark 200 pounds for the next test routine. Sheffield’s terrain was also turning against me. No hundred meters of road will be flat. It would either be uphill or downhill. The associated manoeuvre used to take the toll on me. All said and done, it is worth it to hear the words “ I am pleased to inform you that you have passed” through the instructor’s mouth !

Jeeves@Sheffield

Marutham said...

Mudhalla CONGRATULATIONS....
//Driving test is a real nightmare.//
YES IT IS! :D
Appa has told me that passing the driving test there needs some real driving talents :P ... And driving without getting ur ticket is the next milestone.
Good one & LOL@ the pic....

PS: I would like to pass on the :) Thinking blogger award to you. Please check my post for details... Real good thinker got to take up this TAG- yes sir ;) YOU!

Marutham said...

And forgot to ask :P Was it your first attempt ;) ??
If that be the case you must throw a party for all of us :P hee hee

Chakra said...

Congrats Balaji... came straight to the last paragraph and got the msg. :-))

Dubukku said...

ahaaa kalakals...kaiya kudunga..

seri ellam irukkattum EPPO TREAT?? :))

(sorry Balaji I couldn't return your call the other day. things are extremely hectic on my side with nothing getting done :) )

Will call you over the weekend.
Cheers

Jeevan said...

Congrats buddy:) Really it seems like a hard test to get license there and not like putting 8 and getting license. Nowadays driving in city is risk not only for us… and doesn’t know who will come and when will they come across and dashed with us.

Loga said...

Congrats Sir and Hazard test romba puthusa irukku...So Enjoy driving then :-)

வேதா said...

ada license vangarathu ivlo kashtama?:)nice experience, anyway congrats :) unga friendoda pic comment superb :)

Dan said...

kooool

Red Lad said...

Congratz man.. I think i'll nvr drive in UK..

Ramya said...

And come to think of it, I got my car license by just driving a furlong ! I hadn't even switched gears ! :D
But anyways, I'm talking India here, where traffic is the most hypothetical yet real situation one could come across !
Bloghopped my way here ! Nice blog!

Jeevan said...

buddy you are selected for thinking blogger award, check my blog:)

Gideon said...

All the cars in the picture: are you responsible for their state? ;-). Just kidding, enjoyed your blog.

Rama Iyer said...

A very nice one. Hazard test? That's quite new. I had some amusing experiences while learning to drive myself. On the very first day, when I had to turn left,i overshot the road (it was a deserted one) and was about to hit a tree on the opposite side and i screamed to the instructor that there was a tree. He calmly told me, the brakes are under your foot, the tree wont move...lol..i had a good laugh after that. This has given me fodder to write on my blog about my experiences too in learning and procuring my driver's licence here in india, though it was not even 1 percent as difficult as you have explained it is in the UK. Anyways, congrats:)

Swatantra said...

Congratulations!! I am sure your son must be happy on this..

Balaji S Rajan said...

Jeeves,

The same with me. Whatever you have mentioned looks like my experience. It is not very easy. But some do have luck and also the place where you live counts. I know few newly developed places where people could pass in their first attempt. The roads are big and the hindrances are lesser. Again, not everyone passes in their first attempts. Even in London there are few ladies who have cleared in their first attempt. At the end of the day, you need very good luck. Also, it is difficult to drive for an examiner in UK. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Marutham,

Thanks. So your Appa had been here is it? Thanks again for selecting me for thinking Blogger award. If I had to give it I cannot give only to 5. I know so many bloggers who are doing so well. So, I am not passing it on to others.

I am throwing a party since it was not my first attempt.

LOL! Believe me I am honest. If you want a party I shall give when I visit Chennai next time.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Chakra,

Thanks! You know the difficulties. I thought about you. Again, that was my last attempt since I was completing 2 years of learner's license.

Renga,

Yenna Thalaiva! Naan kalakitaneah... Neenga yeppaiyo kalkiteenga ... Ippavum kalakareenga..

Balaji S Rajan said...

Jeevan,

Thanks buddy. Yes I could understand how difficult it should be in Chennai by now.

Loga,

Thanks. Yes, Hazard perception is a new kind of test. Though it is easy after consistent use of those practise DVD's. It helps everyone to get into a practise of the theory. But it does not reflect always the right marks. Meaning.. If you click in advance, seeing a hazard, you may not get a mark.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Veda,

It is really difficult. Not as in India. Inspite of such severe tests, most of the accidents happens with beginners who have got their license within one year.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Dan,

Thanks. You will love to drive here after having seen the Chennai traffic. Especially the Madipakkam and the big holes near old mahabalipuram roads.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Red lad,

Thanks for visiting. You can drive in UK if you learn well. Why not?

Balaji S Rajan said...

Ramya,

No way. That cannot happen here and will never happen. Only 38% of new drivers pass out every year. Imagine how tough it would be. Passing driving test here is not that easy.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Jeevan,

Thanks for selecting me for the thinking blogger award.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Gideon,

Thanks for your comments. By the way I do not want to be responsible for those cars lying in the picture. Hence took the driving test. LOL..

Balaji S Rajan said...

Rama,

LOL! That was a good one. "Brakes are under your feet and the tree won't move" made me to laught. Anyhow, I am glad we had to take good number of lessons and the system is very good here. Still people break the law and rules. But not to the extent as they do overthere. Nobody can escape the law here.

Balaji S Rajan said...

Swatantra,

Thanks for your comments. Welcome after a long time.