Monday, October 02, 2006

Driver's mis-education

As a born and bred Londoner, I never bothered to learn to drive. A lot of expense to go to when the London Underground did a very nice job of ferrying me to and from work for less hassle and cost.

Here in Los Angeles, it's a little different. The only public transport is a slow, unreliable bus system that doesn't go to half the places I want to, so as soon as I got my green card, learning to drive was high up on the priority list.

Driver's Education is a popular course here at high schools where students get to drive in a dual-controlled car as basic practice for their test, and to get their learner's permit. I've not heard of a similar scheme in the UK, but it strikes me as a great way to get kids learning to drive. Personally, I'd have liked to have gotten the practice in that early without having to figure out how to pay for lessons.

I'm being taught by my partner, which is working out well for the both of us, and am scheduled for my test soon. The rules of the road are slightly different here than what I was used to seeing in England; there are less roundabouts for one! The biggest difference for me has to be in the size of the roads; in London, I'm used to seeing Victorian roads built for horse carriages, not three lane streets. And of course, the "right turn on red" rule, which says that even if the light is red, you can take a right turn when the road is clear, so long as there are no signs prohibiting it. Madness!

And let's face it, LA drivers are not known for their skills. There are a lot of people yapping on cell phones while they drive, ignoring pedestrians, cutting people off, refusing to let you merge ... The list is endless. Back when I was still learning how to turn, I had a soccer mom in an SUV come up behind me. I put on my left turn indicator, but before I could make the turn she lurched out and overtook me on the left side. I was so amazed I just sat there and watched her. As I learned that day, being a defensive driver in LA can really save your ass sometimes.

So wish me luck, people. In ten days time, I may be holding my very first driver's license!


At 10/03/2006 8:49 AM, Anonymous BritinLA said...

Best of luck with the test. The written part was easy, the practical part easier than the UK. It is definetly worth looking for a test centre in a quieter part of town; shorter wait for an appointment and an easier test.

I agree that the number of drivers focusing on their cellphones while driving is alarmingly high. I did see that there is talk of banning holding of mobiles while driving in California; an idea I applaud.

At 10/06/2006 9:53 PM, Blogger Otana said...

Thanks! I've booked my test at the Culver City branch, since I know the streets around there like the back of my hand, both as a driver and a passenger.

I truly hope they do ban driving with a cellphone, it's getting ridiculous here. The number of times someone has sped around a right turn when I had right of way as a pedestrian is worriesome.

At 1/07/2007 6:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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