Putting your driving skills to the test again

Reporter Deborah Punshon put her driving skills to the test with Graeme Bennett of the AA

Reporter Deborah Punshon put her driving skills to the test with Graeme Bennett of the AA

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It’s often said that it is only once you pass your driving test that the real learning begins.

Your years on the road as a fully-fledged motorist will present you with a plethora of dilemmas, awkward situations and debates with backseat drivers.

Your patience will be tested, your decisions questioned and your wallet will feel the strain as you fork out for upkeep, insurance and road tax.

However, the freedom to go where you like, when you like, more than makes up for the many headaches.

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The day you pass your driving test is, after all, a highlight of your adult life.

The infamous, daunting experience is hard to forget, and countless people still compare nerve-wracking challenges to the same as sitting their driving test.

In my case, I passed my driving test 15 years ago.

But could I pass it again today?

Resitting the standard driving test or even taking lessons again is not uncommon for qualified drivers.

People who have been involved in accidents, or who may have lost confidence in their ability find it helpful to go back to basics with a driving instructor.

Tests are also used as part of the rehabilitation of offenders who have been convicted of driving carelessly, recklessly or dangerously.

For me, I wanted to find out if I would be one of the 20 per cent who admitted in a recent survey that they would fail their test now if they had to re-sit.

After enlisting the help of a very patient Graeme Bennett from the AA, my faux test didn’t start well.

“Can you open the bonnet, Deborah, and tell me where the engine coolant is and how you would check its level?”

This is one of the 20 questions candidates are asked about the car’s maintenance after it was deemed new drivers could be ignorant about the basic workings of a car.

Also new to me was that I was asked to drive independently, driving from A to B using road signs.

Graeme said: “The driving test has evolved.

“It was thought that putting in questions about the car’s maintenance and how it works was really important for safety reasons; things like checking oil levels and tyre tread is something every driver should know how to do.

“The independent drive element was brought in because it was felt that some new drivers were so used to having someone beside them tell them to turn left and right that they could struggle to find their own way.”

Driving from Granagemouth to Falkirk, Graeme asked me to cancel the early indiction I had made coming off the Earls Gate roundabout.

“When the instructor intervenes,” Graeme said, “it’s usually not a good sign.”

After 40 tense minutes, Graeme told me that had I been sitting my real test, I would have failed.

My misdemeanours included not looking over my right shoulder before driving off, approaching a roundabout in neutral, driving a little over the speed limit, inconsistent use of my left wing mirror, and indictating too early when exiting a junction, causing confusion to other drivers.

Graeme said: “Bad habits creep in over the years, but what’s important is that you’re aware of where you do have faults and improve on them.

“People can take refresher courses with ourselves, or organisations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.”

A BSM spokesperson said: “Often, just an hour or two with someone is all you need to top up your skills.

“Keeping your driving skills up to scratch is vitally important because it keeps you, and everyone else who uses the roads, safe.”