Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Only killed some cattle and hogged a bus lane, ready for my Learner's!

This year one of my aims is to learn how to drive. It's a tedious process, with stage 1 being L's, then a stage 2 of red P's, then stage 3 of green P's, and only after that a proper license, if I'm still alive.

And all the while I'll be in the group of what's considered the most dangerous and worst driver on the road. Despised by others, horns honked at, letters of complaint written to media outlets about, and people declaring there ought to be special restrictions against us driving.

No, not a P-plater - an Asian. If you listen to John Laws, anyhow.

So I've taken my first step towards learning to drive. I downloaded the entire Road User's Manual (NSW) and I skimmed it, in the spare moment I had. I must say that I was interrupted by some more fascinating/distracting reads, so in between reading it I've read the following novels/books:

Keep it Simple, Stupid (Peter Goldsworthy); French Cats Don't Get Fat (Henri Le Barbe); The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Milan Kundera); The Spire (William Golding); The Pain and The Great One (Judy Blume); What Angels Fear (C.S. Harris); The House on The Strand (Daphne Du Maurier); Youth (J.M. Coetzee)

as well as rereading some old faves too.

However I finally got to the end of the Road User's Manual, all 120 pages of it.

It's amazing how the distractions of other books and novels can somehow colour your study of it though. I was thinking French Cats and Spires and love affairs and time travel while reading about car crashes and stop signs and intersections. Hmmm.

I decided today to test how a once through reading of the manual plus the use of some common sense would get me through a practice online test, which you can do on the RTA website.

There are three sections, 45 questions altogether.

The first is called General Knowledge. There are 15 questions, and you must get at least 12/15.

The second section is called Road Safety, and there are 20 questions. The next is Traffic Signs, 10 questions. You are allowed to get one question wrong in EITHER Road Safety or Traffic Signs.

Well, the first time I did the test I got 12/15 for general knowledge, but I missed 2 questions in the next section - damn!

I think my driving proces I would have killed some cattle and hogged a bus lane, but it wasn't that dangerous. At least I know what stop signs are!

There are lovely questions where I'm not sure if the RTA is joking or not, for instance, one of the options for "The reason you should not brake hard on a wet road is -"

"Because you may wet pedestrians"

Well, sure, that's a concern, but since there is the other option of skidding and losing control .... on answer C ... - can't I select two possibilities?

Then there are questions like "In the picture can you drive in the right lane?"

I feel like saying, "Sure I can. But is the question you're asking, is it against NSW Road and Traffic Law for me to do so?"

Or this one:

Questions like "Drinking alcohol may -"

a) Interfere with your capacity to judge speed and distance
b) Improve your driving ability
c) Have no effect on you

(or some similar wording)

I feel like saying "Depends on the person, really, doesn't it? It's just that statistically we've found that alcohol is likely to interfere with driving and decrease the ability of a person to make sound driving judgements, but it's possible that for certain people alcohol could improve or have no effect on them."

Until I stop thinking like this I'm going to keep failing online tests ...

I must say I'm very good with Traffic Signs though. I haven't got one wrong yet! If the whole test were a Traffic Sign test I'd blitz it for sure! If anyone needs someone to tell them a stop sign from a roundabout sign from a kangaroos for the next 35km sign, I'm your gal!


Maria said...

Actually, when I read "In the picture can you drive in the right lane?" type questions, my first urge was to quip, "in the picture I can't, but on the road I can"

TimT said...

No! Wait! That sign is - don't tell me, let me guess - a kangaroo's ahead sign. I knew it! It was the big, word beginning with S and ending with P that tipped me off!

On driving and driving tests, you should read this article (can't find full one online, but details are here). A guy from mid-west America describes his experiences with driving in China, and provides excerpts from the driving tests they use. It's one of their best pieces of 2007.

Maria said...

And he survived to tell the tale? I'll have a peek at the link and see if I can find it.

Here's another driving test question:

Before driving on a freeway, which of the following should you do?
- Make sure your vehicle has enough fuel, oil, water and the correct
tyre pressure.
- Take your street directory in case you get lost.
- Take something to calm your nerves before driving.

I would have thought all 3 would be applicable.

Maria said...

As for the "Kangaroos Ahead" sign, it's quite disheartening to find out that you've got a motor vehicle, and a kangaroo with its jumping can still beat you by 35km, isn't it?

Maria said...

I couldn't find the article online either (maybe it's not published online) but here's a short excerpt which combined with TimT's link to the description of the article, make for amusing reading.

And this article - Learning To Drive #1 China v Massuchusetts refers to and is inspired by the article you mentioned, TimT.

Thanks for pointing me to the article in the first place.

toey said...

Don't let the tests worry you at all- my way of thinking is, if millions of people can do it, then you can do it.

Maria said...

Thanks toey - test's tomorrow, and I'm trying to think of myself as in the millions who can, rather than the ten or so on "Australian's Worst Drivers"