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Old 02-01-2003, 04:00 PM
brad_d is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Long Beach, California
Posts: 1,888

UK driving practices/laws

One of my wife's good friends recently moved to England from California. She's been licensed to drive in California for some 14 years. Last week she took and failed her exam to get a driver's license there. She was talking about it to my wife, who then relayed some points to me, so it's quite possible some things got messed up in the relay. However, some of the things she mentioned sounded downright bizarre to me, so I'd like any UK dopers to comment on whether this is accurate or not. Specifically:
  • Part of the test apparently included backing around a corner on a street. She evidently failed the test because she didn't remain sufficiently close to the curb while doing so. I don't think backing around corners is even legal in most parts of the US, and even if it is it doesn't sound particularly safe. What's the point of this exercise?
  • She was apparently docked points by the examiner for failing to check her mirrors (side and center) before signalling and turning.
  • She was taking the test (and thus would only have been licensed for) an automatic transmission. She was told, in a class I believe, that the parking brake had to be engaged whenever the transmission was shifted. For example, when making a three-point turn in a road the parking brake had to be engaged for each gear change. Come to a halt in Drive, engage p-brake, shift to Reverse, disengage p-brake, .... This sounded asinine to me - was there something being mis-relayed?
  • She was also taught that it's illegal to turn the steering wheel while the vehicle isn't moving. Does this make sense? It's tough to parallel park in really tight spaces without doing so.
  • She was told that one should not cross one's hands on the steering wheel while turning, and that neither hand should ever go past "twelve o'clock". This is quite the opposite of how I was taught to drive. Is it to keep one's hands out from in front of the airbag, perhaps?
I'd appreciate it if anybody could shed some light on this. What of these points are simply somebody (me, my wife, my wife's friend) misunderstanding something? Which are curious differences in driving practices/laws between the US and the UK? Any other possible explanations?


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