The journey [pun intended] that I started 6 months ago has finally come to an end; at least, the formal journey has, but the road of unofficial learning continues ever on.
Six months ago, I decided to finally suck it up and learn to drive. As I had previously blogged, I had no need to drive in London as the transport infrastructure is such that its easy to get around on public transport.
In late September I called up an instructor and asked for a lesson, explaining that I was an older and nervous and that I had never driven anything before - such was my reticence on driving that I hadn't done anything for nine months after I had passed my Theory Test.
The lesson was simply amazing; driving at 15kmh, I drove around the small roads and even moved around parked cars. By lesson three, I was going at 90kmh along major roads.
My instructor felt I wasn't entirely ready for my practical test and kept putting back my test time after time after time, even though everyone else I'd driven with had said I was fine. I was cautious, I looked before turning, etc. If anything, I only had a problem with judging distances (I've had this issue for as long as I remember) when making turns. But nothing that would impede my test.
After a long preamble, my instructor agreed to 2 pre-tests so that I could see what the final test would be like. The first pre-test ended with me driving straight (lane changing) through a dual-lane roundabout essentially causing a huge traffic violation that would have had me automatically failing. But as I did it, I knew what I'd done - and that it would never happen again; and thats when I fell to pieces and had to pull over to one side to recover.
The second pre-test was a bit better but the instructor took me out of the way of the test and I failed to slow down enough when coming to speed bumps - another automatic fail. What annoyed me the most there was that that road was not on the test, so I would never have failed anything. Sticking to my guns, I stubbornly asked for the test to commence.
On the 21st of January, I finally took the test. It lasted 30 minutes but it felt like only 10 minutes had passed. I made a few errors but overall I was happy with my performance, and when I was told I had passed, I was over the moon.
After that, it was a laborious 6 weeks to get my 25 Hours Supervised driving logged (a practice to stop teenagers from jumping in their new car and wrapping it around a tree or around a family) and finally on the 20th of March, I took my Hazard Perception Test.
The Hazard Perception Test is a computer exam with flash-based videos to determine if the learner driver understands what hazards actually are - from sand on the roads to a motorcycle concealed behind a turning truck, to knowing when to safely over take. The questions were fairly ambiguous too as on occasion not slowing down was the safest thing to do. Another 30 minutes of testing and I had passed. I finally realised that the Hazard Perception Test was not really evaluating my understanding of the rules of the road, but whether or not I had falsified the 25 logged hours of supervised driving...
I now drive a White Hyundai Accent car, air conditioning inclusive. Its not the fastest car in the world nor the prettiest. Nor the most kitted out.
But for all those failings, its MY car.