I drive like a mad woman. Both my car and my wallet have already had a painful chance to experience it. Although I am far from being an unintentional internet “star” of driving awkwardly out of car parks or parking in weird locations, but I am aware of the fact that in Poland I would not be brave enough to book a driving test. Despite a few years’ experience “behind the wheel,” when, just for fun, I want to try myself and do mock theory tests from the WORD database (WORD is our equivalent of DVLA), as I feel there is nothing that will surprise me anymore, it turns out that I can still be surprised.
Poland – minimum of 30 hours of driving with an approved qualified instructor, 30 lesson hours (lessons in Poland last 45 mins) of theory lectures, mandatory doctor’s tests, the theory test, the practical test involving a series of maneuvers on the “special” lot, the driving test along a normal road in town in a car that is the WORD’s chosen car at the time. Learning to drive with anyone else but an approved instructor, even on roads that are very seldom used, is against the law.
Great Britain – there is no minimum requirement for driving with an instructor; the theory you learn from the Highway Code on your own, or alternatively you consult with your instructor on that. Your driving instructor/supervisor can be someone who is at least 21 and has had a driving licence for at least 3 years. Most often it is a family member or a friend, but it is fairly common to book lessons with an approved instructor. There are no medical tests other than the eyesight test done by your examiner who before the practical test asks you to read a number plate at a distance of 20,5m. The practical test on the “special” lot involves only positioning the car in one of the two rectangular boxes that resemble parking spaces in a supermarket car park. And then you are off to a town road. In your own car (or your instructor’s).
If you have ventured to obtain a UK driving licence and passed the theory test, you have probably noticed how such tests differs from ours. There are questions that concern inappropriate behaviour of other drivers and road users and the right reaction to it. If you have had a chance to drive in Great Britain at least once, you must have observed a massive difference between the way we drive and they drive. Most of all, we lack patience and understanding towards other drivers.
One of my driving lessons with Mr Sławek, my instructor (the first ‘steps’ in driving I took in my home town). We were in a queue with no end. Cars in a side road waiting to join the main traffic. I let one in. Mr Sławek:
‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m driving like the Welsh,’ I said. (I lived in Wales at the time.)
‘You’ve made one driver happy and ten very cross.’
More about UK driving licence on the DVLA website.