Driving Me Crazy: A Tale of Three Driving Tests

I bought a car in August. I’d passed my theory test nearly two years earlier, then put off that whole learning-to-drive malarkey because of issues with back pain. So I kickstarted this whole right-I’m-doing-it-learning-to-drive thing in June, bought the car in August and applied for my driving test. Fairly simple, right? The six month waiting period was null and void because I’d gotten the licence almost two years before. So aside from the twelve lessons (and the many more besides), I was golden. How difficult can getting a driving licence be? As I’ve discovered, for me, very.

A Tale of Three Driving Tests

I wrote about needing two attempts to pass the Theory test (by one measly question!) when that happened, so I likely should have expected the outcome of my first test. The wait for a test date seemed to take forever. I hounded the poor customer care workers in the RSA for a cancellation date for weeks. I was so damn sick of having a car, my car, and still having to be on the bus to work. My commute to work takes an hour or more, dependant on the whim of two Bus Eireann buses (not the most reliable) and my shifts ending on time. Not ideal when you’ve got ever changing shifts, childcare and a wish to see your child before he goes to sleep.

So, the week before Christmas, I had my first driving test. A male instructor. I was nervous, he wasn’t making it any more calming with his very stand-off-ish attitude (yes, I know that’s meant to be that way). My driving lessons had been a huge thing for me. Since being involved in a road traffic accident in 2013, I’d been diagnosed with PTSD, which had definitely impacted my experience of learning to drive. Thankfully it seems to have helped (being in control of the wheel seems to do it for me), but the fear of other cars on the road and moreso a NEED to be careful is important.

Apparently though, I’m too careful. As a driving instructor before Test #2 told me, I was “torn apart on progress”. 20 Grade 2 faults, and 2 Grade 3s, with 12 of the grade 2’s being for progress alone, and two grade 2 & grade 3 marks for reactions to hazards (over-reaction in my case). The stand-off-ishness turned into Asshole-ness once we got back to the test centre. “You won’t be surprised that you’ve failed. I really hope you don’t drive like that normally, you’ll get nowhere if you drive like that. Have you even had lessons?”. I left, holding back the tears until I got out to the car. And then ate ALL my feelings.

January. Back in the saddle. Again, I had the RSA on Speed-dial looking for a cancellation, and I got one fairly quickly. This time I got a female tester. While she obviously was professional, she was definitely more friendly. And off we went. It was going well. I was confident. I’d been doing a lot more day-driving practice. I’d even NAILED the reverse-around-the-corner just before the test.

And then. She made me do the reverse around the bloody corner. The most pointless exercise in the history of man, up there with Ox Bow Lakes. I hit the kerb. I panicked and asked if I could start again. She agreed. I was still panicked. And then I did it. Turned the steering wheel the wrong way. I mounted the bloody kerb. She went for the Oh Jesus Handle. Right, that’s it, instant fail. Feck. And it was all going so well up to there.

Of course, I had to go through the rest of the test because they won’t let you just go back to the centre, oh no. Torture is played out for as long as possible. Once we finally got back, she went through the test with me – very different from my previous experience. I was doing so well up until Kerb-Mount-Gate, and after that it kind of went to hell – my observation was off and I’d missed one or two other things, but yeah, that glaring Grade 3 did it. I’d also broken the speed limit at one point, because that kerb mount happened in a 30km zone and I went straight back up to 45. This time it was a much better result – not difficult, but still a fail. 10 Grade 2’s and a one Grade 3. Damn. Third time lucky?

End of January. Test #3. €255 handed over to the RSA thus far, not including lessons. Test date came up with the same instructor. To say I practiced every single reverse around a corner in Cork is an understatement. I had them down pat. I was watching my speed, being super observant. She didn’t seem to recognise me, which was good, as I was praying she would not remember having to grab the Oh Jesus Handle. I was checking my mirrors every few seconds and being a careful, considerate driver. I NAILED the reverse. No mounting, no hitting the kerb, nothing, perfect. Thrilled.

We got back to the test centre. We walked in, sat down at her desk.

“I’m sorry to tell you you’ve failed”. 

My faults this time? 10 grade 2’s. 9 is a fail. And what were they for? Being too bloody cautious. Not for my speed, that was fine. More the not-pulling-out-infront-of-other-cars-at-a-junction stuff. I also apparently waste time looking in my mirrors. Ahem. This is from the woman who told me I’d missed out on observances after KerbMount Gate. Apparently I over-correct. I don’t know what they’re looking for. So, three fails it is.

I don’t know if applying elsewhere is the answer, or if I just need to keep funding the RSA (in the hopes that they fill in Cork’s Potholes at some point) in test applications to Cork Wilton. But yes, that’s me. I am the girl who failed two out of three driving tests for being far too careful a driver. There’s a rant in there somewhere about the peeves I’ve discovered since learning to drive – so many IDIOT drivers out there – but that won’t get us anywhere.

Wish me luck for round 4, whenever my bank account agrees to let me apply…


BadMammy is not bad at driving, really. Check her out over on Facebook.


1 comment

  1. Well fair play to you for doing it twice more. I have HUGE issues with driving…I’m petrified. However, I did do a test a few years ago. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of all time. The final nail was the handbrake going on the car in the middle of it, which the instructor had to be aware of but kept going. He was Mr. Bean with bad attitude. My sunglasses were fogging up I was sweating that much (nice!) And like your fella he turned bad attitude in asshole-ness back at the test centre.
    If he thought I was bad during the test, he would have made me leave the car on the side of the road and walk home if he’d seen me. I drove around Whitford roundabout in Wexford twice through tears and frustration!!
    I’m safer as a passenger. And for what it’s worth, I would sooner be in a car with an overcautious driver than some you see on the roads. Best of luck next time, you’ll get there x

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