Yesterday, finally, I passed. WOOO. I passed my theory the first time even though I didn't read up on the highway code much, and I passed my practical on my first attempt too, with 5 minors. If you don't know how the UK driving tests work, let me explain.
First you have a theory test which is a multiple choice test about all the road signs, who gives way to who, stopping distances, all that, and a hazard perception test, where you watch some videos of someone driving and you have to click the mouse whenever there's a hazard, and you gain or lose points depending on how many you spot and how quick you are in seeing them. Then when you pass that you can do your theory test, which is obviously where you drive around for a bit with a guy with a clipboard sitting next to you who's watching your ever move. In the practical, you can get major errors, or minor errors, majors or minors. Majors are serious problems that will automatically fail you, and they're things like speeding, driving dangerously, not stopping at a red light, stuff like that. Minors are smaller things that won't fail you, but might piss other drivers off a bit, like indicating a bit late, stalling, that sort of thing. The average number of minors for a pass achieved by someone taught by my instructor is 7, but the UK national average number of minors for a pass is 11, so I'm really happy I only got 5.
Thing is though, now that I'm qualified, I'm actually more limited that when I was a learner. When I was a learner, I could drive any car as long as an adult who was on the car's insurance was present, and I had 'L' plates on the car, and that was great. Now though, I have to be on the insurance policy of the car I'm driving for it to be legal. I mean I know why they do it like this, but it's also a bit illogical, the fact that I'm more restricted now that I'm actually qualified than I was when I was an unqualified learner... plus it isn't like I can be added to the insurance for either of the 2 cars we have either. Our main car is a BMW 530d Estate, with a 3.0 6 cylinder turbo-charged engine with rear wheel drive, and I drove this a lot when I was learning, but nobody will insure me on it, so I can't drive that. The other car is my dad's, a BMW 728i, with a 2.8 6 cylinder turbo charged engine with rear wheel drive, and an automatic gearbox, and I could get insurance for that, but it would be over £4500 a year, almost USD$7000. So that's out of the question too. Sucks really, I'm now a fully qualified driver but can drive less than when I wasn't qualified. Plus, because new drivers can't drive for a while after passing their test as they can't get insurance on anything for ages, when they eventually do, they've lost some of the experience they aquired when they were learning. And then we get charged even more for insurance, and it just keeps getting worse. Apparently in Germany they insure the value of the car, they don't base the insurance premium on the value of the car and the driver's status, they just look at the car and insure that. I mean here they base the cost of the insurance on the value of the car, the time you've been driving, your age, past claims, driving convictions, location, where you park it at night, how often you'll drive it, how many miles per year, occupation, and many, many more things. It's ridiculous. I guess I'll have to start looking for something a bit smaller and have my own insurance on it. Shame, I was looking forward to driving the family car.