Traffic sign indicating 'No L Plates'

So, in what must have been an incredible stroke of luck, I managed today to pass my driving test ! After an astonishingly long wait I finally got the chance to prove that I can actually drive vaguely competently around the roads of Raheny where I live.

In Ireland, the driving test involves a theory exam (before you even get your learners license), some demonstration of the workings of a car, that is, knowing what bits under the bonnet do, and then a practical test where you drive for 5 miles or so with an examiner. During the practical, you have to negotiate roundabouts (“rotaries”, for those non-European readers), make left and right turns, do hill starts, reverse around a corner, do a 3-point-turn, all the while demonstrating observation, knowledge of the rules of the road, reading traffic conditions and the actions of other road users, position on the road, making progress (but not excessive speed), using signals, and being careful of right of way and clearance/overtaking.

I’m not sure what the driving test is like in many other parts of the world, but doing all that in Ireland while it’s raining and the roads are narrow and twisty is something to be proud of ! From talking to my friend Peter, tests in the US involved something like driving in a straight line, and making four right turns (in an automatic! And they drive on the other side of the road there !) Is that really the case ?

Still, despite the heavy rain, and the near total lack of visibility (“Use The Force, Tim – stretch out with your feelings”) I got through it. Of course, I got home, got into my cycling shorts, and cycled the four, rather wet miles to the office – after all, it’s only a car : doesn’t mean I have to use it…