[UK] Learning To Drive - 1st Person Perspective of a 17 Year Old.

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Seven

The Dickhead
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Hello Trucksim :)

( * means see notes at the bottom)

Basically, I wrote this for anyone else worried/interested about learning to drive and what it's like. Tl;dr, try not to panic, keep your ears open for advice and your eyes open so you're a safe and progressive driver!

If enough requests are made I could do this in video format with visual demonstrations of maneuvers and other talk in more detail. After all, some won't learn from writing and this is all coming from what I've been taught and what I've learned - I'd love to assist others who were like me before learning and being there.

About me:
As you may already be aware I've been eager to drive for a few years, like most of us under the legal age to drive or in less fortunate financial situations. After saving up for a few months, I had a few hundred pounds shortly after my 17th birthday in September. I booked *10 hours of driving tuition with an instructor *recommended by my friend and his mom; they both said he was friendly, tailored lessons to the student and was a first time pass for my friend.

Advice for any driving: Always be: Aware, steady, progressive (little to no hesitation), respectable and predictive of your surroundings.

On my first lesson I was picked up, we spoke a lot before moving while we got to know eachother and of course I looked about for a government authorized ID to make sure he was legal and trained, saw it stuck to the bottom of the windscreen. He drove me to an open road where he starts all his pupils and we then swapped seats so I was in the driver's seat. As I had previous experience he ran through basic controls and briefed me on the workings of the car. When I was asked to set off and proceed to normal driving position on the road -as with most first drivers- I almost stalled. I didn't panic and we did get moving and used to steering, handling, etc. Naturally, my inner child was excited as hell but I have to keep him inside so I can focus on being safe and learning from a professional in order to pass first time, thus saving money and making a better impression. This hour lesson was basically getting used to controls, some basic junctions on quiet roads and accustoming myself to the road from a driver's perspective.

All my following lessons (4) have been an hour and a half in a busier town. The second lesson included the following skills and maneuvers: Controls, roundabouts, junctions, dual carriageways, traffic lights, "turn in the road" (formally three-point turn, but now they allow more than three turns as long as it's safe an efficient). The only time in this lesson I nearly stalled was at a set of traffic lights, every time I nearly stall I always put the clutch in fast enough to recover it. I was also a little too fast doing the turn in the road but my final attempt of three was just about perfect. Although I do get a bit flustered as anyone would, don't let it get to you - remain calm and be safe whatever you do. The chances are your instructor will have *dual controls on the car you use just to help out where necessary.

Lesson three consisted of going back and further into town. Bay parking, straight line reversing, some pedestrian crossings, larger junctions, more roundabouts and another turn in the road. Again, I nearly stalled but recovered it at the same set of traffic lights as last time. We also did a rather steep hill start at which I was told I did faultlessly - I was indeed very proud of myself! The three point turn this time was also flawless.

Lesson four took place on the day I write this post (Wed 10th), I booked my theory test for Friday 12th.

Lesson four we were also back in town. This time we covered reversing around a corner (easier than I thought!), more bay parking, after school driving (heavier traffic, "lollipop men/women", children), night and rain driving. With remaining calm and controlled it was effortless to be in top control of the car, even overtaking a stopped police car with no worries at all. I never stalled in this lesson, in fact at the end my instructor claimed he was "very impressed" and next lesson we shall move on to the Emergency Stop and parallel parking which will mean all areas are practiced. Following three or four lessons will be practices and then one more before my practical test.

I now have my theory test to do on Friday and my next driving lesson will be next week. I feel in 5 and a half hours driving I have progressed a lot and I'm quickly becoming ready for my practical, the theory test is the hard part, or at least the hazard perception test. The hazard perception is the one I am worried about.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

I will keep this topic updated with my news and progress on this subject, as I said I am writing this for those like me who are worried or have interest in what it's like to be a learner driver and what it's like to progress. If requested I can do an in-depth video format of this, split into parts of which I can include visual and verbal demonstrations. Of course when I get a car this would be easier but with money being an issue you know how it is :p

I hope I helped / will help someone! :)


Notes:
*10 hours: This will vary on your own previous experience. I have driven a 3.0 TDi minivan a lot previously with my uncle on private land (so it is legal as I was underage without a license) and he recommended I wouldn't need more. If you have no experience behind the wheel, you may need more hours. Simulators with wheel, pedals and shifter do help but you can not rely on them to work like real life!

*recommended: Only use an instructor someone you know has used previously or know someone who used them. It's always better to take recommendations as they would have met the instructor; also, the more people who recommend, the better the instructor. If you can't get a referral to an instructor, make sure to research who you want to teach you so that you know they are reliable.

*dual controls: Chances are, after your first lesson you will always go to the drivers seat first, you'll never sit in the passenger seat again after initial briefing on lesson 1. In the passenger footwell they will have another set of pedals (brake and clutch in our car). This allows them to demonstrate, monitor and cover you if you make a mistake. Don't worry or feel bad if you are assisted in doing something, it's for your learning benefit and of those around you. I've had to be helped on more than one occasion and it is no offense to me at all.

Links:
2014 Practice Mock Theory Test

Driving Theory Test Practice: DVLA Mock Theory Test! (Multiple tests)

http://www.search2drive.com/mock_tests (INCLUDES HAZARD PERCEPTION)

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency APPROVED mock test
 

Muzz

The Baron
May 25, 2009
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Good luck with your test! Hopefully another safe and aware driver will be on our roads soon :)
 
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Dr.Bull

Member
Jul 31, 2014
215
And after you've passed the test you'll go like: ''Lolz, padlle to zhe metolz!''.

Here's how my driving lessons went:

Anyway... I've had like 30 lessons (30 lessons is normal here, there's no way that you can get your drivers license in less than 20 here.) in a sort of emergency course (I had my license within 2 weeks), 15 of the 30 lessons I didn't do a lot, because my driving instructor didn't know why I had 30 lessons so we just drove around a bit... I know why I had so many lessons though. The first ''lesson'' (it wasn't a lesson, a driving instructor had to guess how many lessons I needed in less than 50 minutes of driving) I was kind of nervous... I was told to get behind the wheel, I actually expected to sit on the passenger side, so I was shoked that I had to drive:p. And the instructor wasn't helping either, he was talking about all the technical stuff of a clutch and a transmission and blah blah blah he didn't shut up...:(

My real first lesson was with an instructor who was genuinly impressed how good I already was. He asked me if I wanted to shift gears already or if he had to do it for me and I choose to just jump in head-first and shift gears myself, which went well.
We drove around a bunch of fields with very to no traffic and later went to an industrial area. Don't expect to be dropped into really busy city-streets on your first lesson, that won't happen.

Second lesson was roundabout day. A nearby town has a sh*t ton of roundabouts and we went there. It was aweful, roundabouts blow.:rolleyes:

All of the other lessons were just driving around town a bit... Nothing toooo hard.
During all of my lessons I stalled the car once... Just once... And that wasn't my fault, but some dickhead who didn't really understood how roundabouts worked.:mad:

I passed my theory test and practical test both in one go.
I honestly can't understand how the actual F anybody could fail so many times. I've spoken to people who had to take the tests more than 5 times... :confused: Like what the hell?
Anyway, I guess the key-element is to stay calm and to not only to your instructor, but also learn things from him... Panic is not going to help you at all.

I know for a fact that I would fail miserably if I had to take the tests again... Inside mirror, wing mirror, shoulder... Yeah right... Right now it's wing mirror and GOOOOOOO!
I do not have a clue on how to parralel park, I try to avoid that.
And I've grown a genuine hate for cyclists. Cyclists are c**ts.

Also, have fun. Driving is fun.

I wonder though, on what age are you allowed to drive in the UK?
Over here you can get your drivers license when you're 17, but even after you've got your license you're not allowed to drive on your own, you need to have a 'coach' next to you (like your mom, dad or granny who's got alzheimers...). It's a terrible system though. You can't learn how to drive like that, it is again obvious that that was a dicision made by really ignorant politicians.
I'd imagine that 90% of moms would just shout, nag and be angry at their kids and 70% of dads would tell their 17 year-old sons to floor it...
 

Seven

The Dickhead
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For a start, I ain't a kid - or atleast I haven't felt like one in a long time. I won't be using my car (when I get one) to race anytime soon, especially since it costs three times the value of the car to insure the thing, even with a monitoring device which I'll be forced to get unless I want to be bankrupt - but to be honest I'll be driving with a dashcam and rearcam anyway. I'm a huge advocate of dash/rear cams.

Over here you can legally obtain a provisional at age 17. You can only drive alone with someone aged 21 or over who's held a full license for 3 years. You can pass your provisional and then your practical at age 17 and drive on your own following that in your own car/van whatever as long as it weighs less than 7.5 tons when loaded with a trailer no heavier than 500kg (I think?).

I also have a friend who failed his theory test three times and continues to pressure me with "Good luck, it's a bitch, blah blah" and I have another friend who's like "Piece of p**s." so I'm in the middle, not to be over confident but not to be sh***ing it would be the youthful way to put it.

HEY! Until I get a car, I'm a cyclist. Unless it's raining, then I'm a rat on two wheels. Only having a few layers of skin and some clothing to prevent you taking a cycle lane six feet under gives you some decent appreciation for the roads and build you to be a more respectable driver as you've been there as a vulnerable road user. People in cars typically feel so safe in their own little bubble to do what they want, but then there's those who do appreciate all road users while being safe and legal.
 

KGB

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Jan 13, 2014
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I can get driving but the cost of insurance is enough to wipe me out. Got a car, just can't use it!

Personally, as a wannabe police officer, I think current driving regulations on learners are not strict enough and that it is too expensive so promotes illegal driving habits. This is why so many 'kids' get caught driving illegally now and is why our insurance is through the roof. Cars are deadly, very deadly.

But good luck with your test! You seem like a careful and well-needed driver among the idiots out there! :)
 
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Seven

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If they were any stricter in my view the roads would have no learner drivers. In this economy it's impossible to pay what insurers ask unless you're lucky enough to have a job. Even then with a job you're lucky to earn any spare money for yourself while working if you have a car to maintain.

I'm not entirely sure why the expense promotes safe driving - perhaps getting one's money's worth? In my view, I will pay so much for my insurance (even with a black box at £2,500/year for a 1.6 diesel estate - without a black box you're looking at upwards of £1,500 for anything) I want to work on getting my premium down. I certainly don't see the logic in "getting my money's worth" when: I don't have money to pay the Police fines, I don't have money to increase my premiums and I wouldn't want to risk becoming a murderer. A car is a weapon. Most accidents are caused by something stupid they did to cause the event and someone ended up dead - in my eyes that's murder. A crash, 9 times out of 10 is preventable somehow.

What is this "BLACK BOX" I speak of?!
Easy, you might have heard of these "Black box flight recorders" in planes; in a car it's very similar. The black box is about the size of the typical smartphone and has two cables running out of it: one to the power and one to the computer. It is hidden discreetly in the glove compartment, chances are you won't notice it. What it does is it records how safe you are and how smooth you drive, things it records include: Steering severity, acceleration and braking intensities, your speed, G-forces. It's goal: If you are a safe driver, your premiums will drop, if you're very safe you may be looking at a substantial drop in insurance. And, if you break the law I'm fairly certain they send the details off to the police and get you done for it - I love that part personally. You can monitor yourself online as well as print out your statistics for proof with later insurance companies. I'm an advocate of the box as if you have nothing to hide, why pay more?

Also, dashcam / rearcam!
I'm a massive advocate of dash-mounted cameras and rear-mounted cameras to record driving. It's great because it's undeniable proof of who was at fault in a collision, also, we've all seen the Russian videos and some pretty funny stuff does happen on the roads. One of the highest quality small dashcams/rearcams is round £50 and it's called the Ambarella Mini 0801 (Google it, buy it from Ebay/Amazon and you won't regret it).

Ragey motorist: "Dude you hit me!"
You: "Nuh uh. *points at camera in window* Try explaining raw video footage to the police."
*Ragey motorist drops microphone, exits stage left and awaits a phonecall from his insurance company.*
 
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Dr.Bull

Member
Jul 31, 2014
215
Maybe cyclist drive differently in the UK... But over here in bike country everybody drives like they can't get hurt... Seems most of cyclists here don't realize that there's also a thing called ''yielding''. It's moronic behaviour for sure. I've seen a bunch of videos from cyclists in the UK and most of those people seem kind of scared of cars, over here, it's the other way around. Motorists are scared of cyclists because motorists know that the imbecils can turn on a dime and don't give way.


And for taxes and such, can't you just borrow your parents' car? Or have them buy a car for you (you pay for it), insure it on their name and have you as a second driver on the insurance policy. It's probably 1000 pounds cheaper that way. You won't get any accident-free years like that, but atleast you won't have to pay a ridiculous amount of money. Just buy and insure your own car in 5 years or so when it's cheaper. That's the way I did it. I don't know if that's also possible in the UK, hell, I don't even know if that's still possible in this country. So don't hold my word for it, but it seems like a cheaper solution.
 

KGB

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Jan 13, 2014
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If they were any stricter in my view the roads would have no learner drivers. In this economy it's impossible to pay what insurers ask unless you're lucky enough to have a job. Even then with a job you're lucky to earn any spare money for yourself while working if you have a car to maintain.

I'm not entirely sure why the expense promotes safe driving - perhaps getting one's money's worth? In my view, I will pay so much for my insurance (even with a black box at £2,500/year for a 1.6 diesel estate - without a black box you're looking at upwards of £1,500 for anything) I want to work on getting my premium down. I certainly don't see the logic in "getting my money's worth" when: I don't have money to pay the Police fines, I don't have money to increase my premiums and I wouldn't want to risk becoming a murderer. A car is a weapon. Most accidents are caused by something stupid they did to cause the event and someone ended up dead - in my eyes that's murder. A crash, 9 times out of 10 is preventable somehow.
I see your point but by stricter I mean tougher punishments for offenders, I.E the 15 year old chavs who get caught or crash and end up with a slap on the wrist, it is not enough and it drives the insurance through the roof for the honest ones.
And by expenses I literally mean the cost of the insurance and the tax and other needed bits, it is almost as if they want you to try and not pay it. My comment was more towards the illegal tw*ts who cause all these issues for us by driving without insurance, tax or license due to the costs and weak punishments.
 

4D1L

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Apr 1, 2014
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Well written guide you have made there @Seven! Good luck with your test on Friday! ;)
 

Seven

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@Dr.Bull - Cyclists are typically much more aware over here, or at least the older teenagers and adults are. In my lesson I had a kid on a bike coming from school pull straight out in front of me causing my to brake quite sharply. I would borrow my mom's car, if she had one. When one takes out an insurance policy under their parent's name and put one's self as an additional driver, in the UK this is called fronting and is illegal. Reason being, the new driver is the main driver of the car, yet they registered their parent as the main driver in order to bring costs down. Basically, if you're caught both you and your parent(s) can face a hefty fine or imprisonment.

@Kyle Blunt - I agree on that point, it is the minority that mess it all up for majority.

@4D1L - Thank you, my next paragraph was actually about that :)

Theory test in two hours!
Yes, the day is here and I feel well prepared for my theory test. I have done plenty of mock questions and many *hazard perception mocks as well (links attached at the bottom) so I'm feeling a little nervous but otherwise fairly confident. I'll let you know how it is when I come out - as far as I know I'm taking the train into the city, walking to the test building, signing in at reception with my provisional license and *counterpart then I sit the two tests in one session.

*hazard perception - You are provided 14 video clips of driving in various situations: country, city, highway. In each clip there is one or two hazard that you will be assessed for. The goal of this test is to think that you're behind the wheel of the car in the video, think "what would cause me to take action? For example, rethink my route, brake, go around something." these are all hazards and you should click your mouse on the clip when the hazard appears or changes. In total you will probably have around 5 or 6 clicks per 1 minute 30 second (roughly) clip. You will be scored out of 5 for each clip depending on how quickly you reacted to the hazard. 5 being the soonest, 0 being the latest or a miss of the hazard.

*counterpart - In the UK when you first get your license you will be provided with the credit card-sized photocard with a "L" plate printed on the top corner. This photocard is stuck to an A4 sheet of paper with all your details on it as well as space for government notes. I would keep these parts together for the whole period until you get your full license, basically don't bother taking the photocard off and putting it in your wallet because your instructor, a police officer (if you're unlucky like that) and your test center will ask to see photocard AND paper "counterpart".

Links
Mock questions:
http://www.driving-school-beckenham.co.uk/mocktheory.html
http://toptests.co.uk/

Mock hazard perception:
http://www.theaa.com/aattitude/games/hpt.jsp
https://www.learnerdriving.com/hazard-perception-test/free-hazard-perception-test
http://www.wimbledondrivingschool.com/hazard-perception-introduction/
http://www.2pass.co.uk/hazardtest.htm#.VIqy6nvjJsk
 
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Jaanko

Co-Founder
May 24, 2009
193
@Dr.Bull - Cyclists are typically much more aware over here, or at least the older teenagers and adults are. In my lesson I had a kid on a bike coming from school pull straight out in front of me causing my to brake quite sharply. I would borrow my mom's car, if she had one. When one takes out an insurance policy under their parent's name and put one's self as an additional driver, in the UK this is called fronting and is illegal. Reason being, the new driver is the main driver of the car, yet they registered their parent as the main driver in order to bring costs down. Basically, if you're caught both you and your parent(s) can face a hefty fine or imprisonment.

@Kyle Blunt - I agree on that point, it is the minority that mess it all up for majority.

@4D1L - Thank you, my next paragraph was actually about that :)

Theory test in two hours!
Yes, the day is here and I feel well prepared for my theory test. I have done plenty of mock questions and many *hazard perception mocks as well (links attached at the bottom) so I'm feeling a little nervous but otherwise fairly confident. I'll let you know how it is when I come out - as far as I know I'm taking the train into the city, walking to the test building, signing in at reception with my provisional license and *counterpart then I sit the two tests in one session.

*hazard perception - You are provided 14 video clips of driving in various situations: country, city, highway. In each clip there is one or two hazard that you will be assessed for. The goal of this test is to think that you're behind the wheel of the car in the video, think "what would cause me to take action? For example, rethink my route, brake, go around something." these are all hazards and you should click your mouse on the clip when the hazard appears or changes. In total you will probably have around 5 or 6 clicks per 1 minute 30 second (roughly) clip. You will be scored out of 5 for each clip depending on how quickly you reacted to the hazard. 5 being the soonest, 0 being the latest or a miss of the hazard.

*counterpart - In the UK when you first get your license you will be provided with the credit card-sized photocard with a "L" plate printed on the top corner. This photocard is stuck to an A4 sheet of paper with all your details on it as well as space for government notes. I would keep these parts together for the whole period until you get your full license, basically don't bother taking the photocard off and putting it in your wallet because your instructor, a police officer (if you're unlucky like that) and your test center will ask to see photocard AND paper "counterpart".

Links
Mock questions:
http://www.driving-school-beckenham.co.uk/mocktheory.html
http://toptests.co.uk/

Mock hazard perception:
http://www.theaa.com/aattitude/games/hpt.jsp
https://www.learnerdriving.com/hazard-perception-test/free-hazard-perception-test
http://www.wimbledondrivingschool.com/hazard-perception-introduction/
http://www.2pass.co.uk/hazardtest.htm#.VIqy6nvjJsk
I had no idea fronting is illegal but one other point is that if your parents are down as the main driver then you don't build up any no-claims bonus while you drive so it is more expensive when you finally do get yourself insured.
 

Muzz

The Baron
May 25, 2009
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I had no idea fronting is illegal but one other point is that if your parents are down as the main driver then you don't build up any no-claims bonus while you drive so it is more expensive when you finally do get yourself insured.
Some insurance companies recognise no claims if you've been a named driver.

The first year of driving always sucks, It's so expensive. When you have a no claims under your belt and a full license it gets better :)
 

Seven

The Dickhead
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Aug 25, 2014
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So I just got home from the city after my theory test...

DVSA Completion Letter said:
Dear Mr SEVEN,

Congratulations! You have passed the Car theory test. Your certificate confirming the pass is on the back of this letter. Please keep this letter in a safe place as you may need to produce it when you take your practical test.


Best thing I've read all week.

Basically, I was kinda nervous when I went in, the first lady at reception who signed me in must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed as she wasn't too patient with people in front of me. Second lady who told me what to do was rather friendly though and then the third before I actually went in to the room was also quite happy.

Taking your theory test
You will likely book your test online the same way you got your provision license at http://gov.uk. You will choose a slot that suits you at a location of your preference. Online at costs £25 to book. When you arrive at the test center you may have to press a button on the door and it will open for you to come in. When you get to the desk you will hand over your provisional and counterpart, confirm your details and you signature before moving to the next person. They will ask you to turn off any electrical equipment and empty your pockets into a locker and hand you a key as well as your license back.

After you put everything in the locker, you take your key with you and your photocard to the examiner before the testing room. She will take your photocard and set up a computer with the correct test for you whether it be car or motorcycle. You will be given back your photocard and asked to process to the booth with the number you were given. Once you sit at the computer you check it has the correct details: your name and you test. You click "Next" and enter the test with the option to take a practice before the actual test; this allows you time to get used to the controls of the test and how it will look. After you press "next" to enter the actual test you will have one hour to complete 50 questions, if you're like me you'll finish it in 10 minutes.

You press "End test" and it will move you on to hazard perception. You will be shown a sample clip with the hazards, then the raw clip to what you'll see in the test. Like a mock you click when you see a hazard or a situation changing causing you (the driver) to adjust your driving. The 14 clips will take approximately 20 minutes to do and when complete that will be the end of the test. You have the option to sample a few future questions and fill a satisfaction survey which takes no more than 5 minutes and do not count to your score. The test will end, the examiner outside will ask you to receive your belongings from your locker and report to the main reception for your result printed on a letter.

If you pass, the first paragraph will look like the quote at the top. Nearer the bottom in bold is your result. Mine said this:

DVSA Letter Test Result said:
You scored 46 for the multiple choice part and 51 for the hazard perception part.
And on the reverse side it shows you your hazard perception scores which are really no use unless you have a great memory. I scored 1 point on one clip, 3 on six clips, 4 on four clips and 5 on two clips.

Basically, I'm very happy, I informed my instructor who congratulated me and said "That's the hard part done with." so now there's 3 or 4 more lessons til my practical, I reckon I'll take it early January if not end of December. Can't wait!
 

Dr.Bull

Member
Jul 31, 2014
215
Cool, congratulations!

But holy crap... One hour for 50 questions?
I had to do it with an entire group of 100 people at once, having just about 10 seconds to enter one question. If you didn't fill in any answers, it was counted as a mistake.

But yeah, I'd also say that the theory test is hardest, your practical test is also just based on luck.
 

Seven

The Dickhead
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Aug 25, 2014
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@Dr.Bull Yeah, I've never taken any more than 20 minutes on a mock even. On this test you can "Flag" a question you're unsure about and go back to it before you press the "End test" button. No time limit per question, just the whole thing in an hour with the option to look at your previous answers before ending.

Practical I'm rather looking forward to, my driving lessons are becoming flawless like my last lesson when I never stalled and my only fault was not keeping the clutch halfway down until I was clear of the T-junction right-hand emerge. However, I can't grow too confident because what happens on the day of practical test is uncertain.
 

Seven

The Dickhead
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You have no idea, I went and texted around 5 people straight away who I thought would like to know and yeah :P

My friend loved that text, "Passed first time!" he failed twice and the polite way to put his response is "Lucky <man>. Well done though" :D
 

KGB

Media Manager
Jan 13, 2014
123
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Well done! :)
Just don't run over a construction sign in the practical... my mate did... :p
 
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