Today I had the pleasure of speaking to a woman from the DVLA (think of the Scottish version of the DMV in the States) about transferring our driver's licenses over. Since the UK doesn't have any sort of relationship with the US as far as driving is concerned, we have to do the whole test and such to get licenses (or licences here...) here in Aberdeen. I was curious just what that entailed and got the lowdown today from my friend Louise at the DVLA. I am now officially scared to death that I'm going to fail. I've had my license since my 16th birthday and I have always been a pretty confident driver. I enjoy driving quite a bit and have done my fair share going back and forth between Texas and Washington State twice, as well as carting around the kids at work. Nevertheless... I'm terrified.
We have 12 months to apply for a provisional license from the day we entered here (she couldn't quite clarify if that meant we had 12 months from October- when we first got here or 12 months from June- when we got our visas). Before the 12 months are up, we have to apply for a provisional license (which costs 50.00 pounds or $100.00) and schedule our driving tests. We have to take two tests: Theory and Practical.
The Theory portion of the test is 30.00 pounds ($60.00) and is in two sections. The first part is 50 questions in 57 minutes based on the highway code here. They don't mess around on that part... you have to get an 87% or above to pass... that's 43/50 or better. Then there is the hazard perception bit. This is pretty hard from what I've heard. Basically they show you little film clips on the computer and there are little hazards hidden that you have to click on with your mouse. You have to click on at least 44 of the 75 that you can see. From what has been mentioned to me, some of them are such little bitty hazards that even the most experienced driver will miss them. If you fail either portion of the theory test you have to retake the whole thing. Eek.
The Practical portion of the test is 56.50 or 67.00 pounds (so $113.00 to $134.00) depending on the day and is actually what has me more worried. First they check your eyesight (not a problem) by having you read a number plate (that's a license plate here...) from a distance. Then they ask you some "show me" and "tell me" questions, like how do you check your fluid levels, can you show me that... etc. These vehicle safety check questions shouldn't be too hard as long as they don't get too specific. Then you have to reverse around a corner, turn around in the road, do an emergency stop exercise and reverse park. AHH! I don't reverse unless it's out of my driveway or a parking spot. This is the part that terrifies me. I remember doing my test when I was 15 thinking that my heart was going to explode when I had to parallel park... it wasn't a good feeling. I think the biggest problem is that I know that someone will be watching me and criticizing my every move. I get really nervous during any sort of test and get major anxiety issues.
I think I'll order the little books to study up on the theory part and maybe practice a little and get more comfortable with the whole reverse parking bit. I'm hoping that it's not as bad as it seems, but from what I heard they love to fail people. I would let Nic get his license and keep mine from the US but he's making me get one too. I'm just really afraid to fail... for pride issues and financial ones.