Moving to England at 16: Driving Laws?

Old Jun 15th, 2013, 08:45 PM
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Even 40 years ago, the test was as nytraveler describes, plus a certain amount of Q&A about what to do in certain situations, flashcard tests on different highway signs, and so on (which I suppose are now formalised into the theory test). Even while waiting to get the process started, OP should read the Highway Code (it has useful advice for pedestrians as well):

www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 10:12 PM
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< <i> National Insurance number isn't an absolute requirement for getting a provisional licence, but being aged at least 17 and having lived in UK for 6 months (and is ordinarily resident here - not a visitor) are. </i> >

I guess this isn't relevant for the OP, but I was able to get my provisional straight away. It's the actual license that I had to state I'd been here 6 months.

Yes, the test is harder (both theory and practical). Yes, there are questions on the theory test that aren't common sense or common knowledge (i.e. it required some study). I know a handful of adult ex-pats who have failed (though most don't).

From wikipedia:

Around 1.6 million people sit the practical examination on an annual basis, with a pass rate of around 43%,the theory test has a pass rate of around 65%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...m_driving_test

As an ex-pat, it can still be a nerve-wracking experience. I didn't want to be "that guy" who failed (and I wasn't).
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 11:28 PM
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I am an adult ex-pat who passed the British driving test just over a year ago, after 50 years experience driving with a US license both in the States and Europe. I passed both the theory test and practical test first time.

Here's what I did to prepare for the test:

I bought (through Amazon.co.uk) a Driving Standards Agency DVD to practice the questions asked in the theory test. There is also a section where you can practice the recently added hazard perception test, where you have to react quickly to potential hazards in an interactive video (if you pass one test but fail the other, you have to take both again).

To prepare for the practical test I hired a driving instructor. Even though I am a very experienced driver I found this was well worth the money, because he gave me tips on what the examiners would be looking for, and even took me over the routes randomly used by the local test centre. I only needed a few hours instruction for this.

Another advantage of hiring the instructor is that I was able to use his car, which had dual controls, L-plates, and an additional rear-view mirror for the examiner. If you use your own car you have to provide the mirror, and the examiner will look carefully at insurance & test certificates, also checking the car for roadworthiness.
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Old Jun 16th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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Just as a comparison - in NY anyway more than 90% pass the written test first time - and those who fail often are not native english speakers. Overall data is scarce but what there is indicated that more than 70% - including teens - pass drivers test the first time.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:08 AM
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>>Just as a comparison - in NY anyway more than 90% pass the written test first time - and those who fail often are not native english speakers. Overall data is scarce but what there is indicated that more than 70% - including teens - pass drivers test the first time.<<

Yep, and it's incredibly common over here in the UK to fail first time. More people I know failed rather than passed the first time and quite a few had to take the test three times. Passing is a genuine cause for celebration.

I passed first time, 25 years ago aged 17, and my brother STILL calls me the golden child because of it.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 03:56 AM
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I failed the UK driven test the first time I took it, in my late 30s having been diving since age 16 in the States and for 18 months in UK, 6 months past when I should have been driving on a US license.

My company paid for lessons and I remember driving around Reading with the instructor talking about his trips to the U.S. and his telling me every 5 minutes that I had nothing to worry about, "I was a great driver."

Test was in Newbury where I'd never driven. I failed due to improper use of the hand brake and a poorly controlled emergency stop (car died). I was mortified.

Took another round of lessons and told the instructor to treat me as he would an 18-year-old. Passed the second time and am glad to have that license as I can drive on it legally in France until (hopefully never) I have a major violation. Understand the French test is no walk in the park.

By contrast, my UK husband's NH driving test consisted of exiting the parking lot, driving maybe 300 yards and turning back into the same parking lot. When he walked into the cafe where I was having coffee I thought he had forgotten his ID or run over the instructor but he had finished and passed.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 05:19 AM
  #27  
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I failed my UK driving text the first time I took it as well. While reversing I used my in dash reverse camera. The instructor said I relied too heavily on it and not enough on my mirrors.

The UK test may be a smidge harder than the US test but I think the failure rate has more do to with the mindset than anything else. I've never met so many nervous drivers! I know people that have had their licenses for years that still try to avoid motorways. Long drives seem to scare many as well. We drove from London to Edinburgh for the weekend. Not our brightest idea but not a disaster. Talking to some Britons you would think we drove to Siberia and back!
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 05:35 AM
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What makes you think because the OP is 16 they only have a learner's permit? There are a LOT of states which allow unsupervised driving but with some restrictions at age 16.

http://www.iihs.org/laws/mapunsuperviseddrivingage.aspx
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 07:04 AM
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Cathinjoetown, if you are now living in France I think you may need to swap your GB licence for a French one after a year. I know we had to trade in ours for Dutch licences after a year.

I passed my driving test first time, aged 17. I messed up reversing round a corner and hit the curb, but straightened the car up and reversed again, without getting in a panic. I think that made the difference.
I had driven down to the south coast from my home in Middlesex a couple of times, with my Dad in the "death seat" too.
There was no theory test as such then - just a couple of questions from the Highway Code, and an eyesight test consisting of reading the number plate of a parked car some distance away.
I drove exactly the same route for my test as I had with my instructor just before it. I was back at the test centre in half an hour with my pass slip.
A week after I passed I drove to North Wales for a two week holiday, on my own. It never occurred to me I might fail!

I don't understand why learners aren't allowed on Motorways in the UK. I think it should be compulsory that all learners do so much time on a motorway, with a professional instructor.

Here in the Netherlands you can only learn to drive with a professional, and have to do a certain amount of motorway work before your test, which could include motorway driving too.
The age for driving here is 18, though 17 years are now allowed to take the test and drive with a designated experienced driver, until they are 18.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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re:

What makes you think because the OP is 16 they only have a learner's permit? There are a LOT of states which allow unsupervised driving but with some restrictions at age 16.

http://www.iihs.org/laws/mapunsuperviseddrivingage.aspx


The OP him/herself calls it a permit.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 07:26 AM
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H.,

Our insurance company said our UK licenses were fine to drive on in France but can also be exchanged for a French license without having to take the test. But, as I understand, have a major violation and you must swap licenses immediately.

With US licenses it varies by state, some have reciprocal agreements with France. Ours doesn't.

Thanks for bringing this up as we probably should swap licenses before they change their minds.

BKP,

"UK test may be a smidge harder than the US"? It is way harder than MO and NH tests, my only frames
of reference.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 07:40 AM
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For up to date details of the UK driving test watch all 6 videos.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkbglJkQrwU
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 08:56 AM
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Dukey - how do we know . . . Because s/he basically said so . . .

If s/he already has a license s/he would have asked about getting a new license, not a new permit.

But since the OP hasn't returned - I can picture him begging his folks >>Please don't make me move to that gawd forsaken country where I can't DRIVE!!! . <<
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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<I think it should be compulsory that all learners do so much time on a motorway, with a professional instructor.>

Fine if you live near one. Our nearest motorway is an hour and a half away.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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<i> I don't understand why learners aren't allowed on Motorways in the UK. I think it should be compulsory that all learners do so much time on a motorway, with a professional instructor. </i> >>>

Heard this discussed on the radio just last week. One thought was that not everyone is within a "reasonable" distance to a motorway (Cornwall, Wales, Scotland Highlands, etc.). Agree that it does seem odd that you can't drive on a motorway prior to having a license.

This was in context to a proposed (?) fine for middle lane hogs (who think it is safer to just stay put).

<< <i> "UK test may be a smidge harder than the US"? It is way harder than MO and NH tests, my only frames
of reference. </i> >>>

Add NC and IND to the list as well. Definitely harder here in the UK. I also found in helpful to take a few lessons to learn what was important for the test.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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The OP said "another permit" implying that's what s/he had - versus a license.
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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<i>Please don't make me move to that gawd forsaken country where I can't DRIVE!!!</i>

Wait until he finds the cost of insurance and fuel
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Old Jun 17th, 2013, 12:09 PM
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Hmm . . . maybe WA has such hard tests that I was already prepared for the UK? Or maybe my driving is just superlative in any country?

I found it interesting that the theory test had first aid questions. Also, the way the English move their hands around the wheel for turning is different, more of a shimmy than a hand over hand.

Either way, I'm glad I don't have to take the test again in either country!
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Old Jun 18th, 2013, 12:52 AM
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>>Also, the way the English move their hands around the wheel for turning is different, more of a shimmy than a hand over hand. <<

Yeah, we all learn to do the shimmy, then ditch it for hand over hand once we've passed our test.

Apparently they (the DVLA) think the shimmy gives you more control.
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Old Jun 19th, 2013, 08:27 AM
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The idea of the "shimmy" is: you keep both hands on the wheel. I learned to do it for the test, but have now (mostly) reverted back to old habits. ;-)
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