I sat the theory driving test recently. I meant to go through the entire thing last year, but so many things kept coming up, so it was put off and put off. When I heard about the new “case studies”, I wanted to sit the exam before they were introduced. When that didn’t happen, I tried to download the updates from the practice software we had from previously. The updates didn’t install properly, so we were forced to buy the latest software.[ad#ad-1]
What a joke! It was such a waste of time and money to get the new software. Maybe the case studies were meant to give young drivers something more to think about than just rote memorisation of facts, but in the end, the questions were no different. You didn’t even need to read the case studies to answer them. I only read them for my own amusement. I thought the makers of the practice exams probably got it wrong since they might not know what the case studies were about. But when I got into that exam room and saw the case study at the end, I nearly burst out laughing.
The other point I found amusing was that they allowed people to take the exam in other languages. Now, how is that supposed to make the roads safer? We’ve seen drivers out there blatantly disregarding road signs and signals and we wondered if they were “foreigners” who didn’t understand. Of course, they could have been natives who blatantly disregard road etiquette, but it does make you wonder. Furthermore, we saw a story recently about people who make the stupidest excuses to avoid paying fines and some try to pretend they don’t understand the language. Well, if they made it a requirement that people can only get a UK driving license if they do it in English, maybe they can remove that poor excuse.
Though road construction is, by far, less extensive over here than it was in the US, we do have occasional road closures due to the road work. Having been used to seeing the signs for construction in the US and understanding exactly what they mean, I find that the warning signs in the UK are very ambiguous.[ad#ad-1]
Granted, some road work can be longer than the one-day jobs and signs forewarn drivers of this. However, the ambiguity exists when there are the one-day jobs. I refer to the signs that state: “road closed ahead”. It might not be so ambiguous had it not been placed on a corner of a junction and the driver needs to determine to which road the sign refers. There is no mention of the road name nor the distance. In the US, they usually tell you how far ahead so you can plan whether or not to proceed forward. However, if you do not know the distance, much less the road, you cannot plan ahead. One time we saw this sign, it referred to neither the road we were on nor the turning where the sign was posted. Instead, it referred to the street at the next junction.
To further the confusion, we sometimes find “diversion” signs out of the blue. Driving further, we discover the road is closed, blocked off by a truck, with no sign of any work going on beyond the truck. Other times, we have followed diversion signs that are so inadequately placed that you do not realise you have missed a turning until you go miles and miles at a stretch without seeing another “diversion” sign. Another time, we followed our own instincts for direction and discovered that follow-up “diversion” signs were placed where we can only see them after we had already made the correct turn. The diversion took us over several miles and diverted us onto another “A” road, rather than just around the road block.[ad#ad-1]
It’s extremely frustrating and it also makes me wonder if the British use the same tactics as the Americans in making diversions. For example, we had recently moved into the town where we last lived when we encountered road work on a bridge. We followed the “detour” signs, which took us at least 10 miles out of our way. The work continued for about two months, at which time, we became familiar with the layout of the neighbourhoods and discovered that we could bypass this same road work by turning the opposite way and going into the town a distance of half a mile. So far, no road has had to be closed for that length of time here.