Intensive driving course - The big day is here already
If you read my previous blog on are intensive driving courses really worth it? You’ll have already got a feel for what I got up to and what I’ve learned so far! If you haven’t read that blog, it’s probably best to get up to speed on what I got up to on days 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the course before you start part 2, just so this next article makes sense! ;)
Day 5: The most crucial day of my course! This was the day I was booking my test and at the time, little did I know it would actually be the day of my test. I woke up in the morning and said to my boyfriend I was going to book my test through the course provider's fast track DVLA link, which gave you timeslots faster than going directly through the DVLA. I think this is a great idea as the website claimed to “get your license within 5 days”. I registered to book my test and received an email which stated I would receive a text, which would confirm my test date and time. I got ready and followed my usual morning routine and checked my phone shortly before I left the house, only to learn that my test was at 12:38pm that day! My test was in 5 HOURS, instantly alarm bells were sounding in my head and I was very nervous. Was I ready? Could I do it? Do I want to do it?!
The Test: I continued the normal schedule and arrived at the centre – it was empty as on the 5th day you take your theory test in the morning if you haven’t done so already – and spoke to the course tutor and shortly met up with my instructor, who took me through a mini practice test and performed some manoeuvres too. Midday soon rolled around and we set off to the test centre, my nerves flying left right and centre and not to mention I’d worn UGG Boots and was beginning to get very hot! We arrived in the test centre - my phone was in my bag far far away this time – and I was shortly called by the examiner to come forward and sign a document about the test just to ensure I was who my license said and all the details were correct. We then set off outside where I was asked to read a number plate from a distance and I was given my “show me tell me” questions. Shortly after we were off!
A smooth start, then things took a turn for the worst
The examiner asked me to turn left as I came out of the top of the road where the test centre was – My instructor assured me this normally meant I wouldn’t go near the horrible roundabout i'd had problems with previously, as it’s to the right of the centre – I felt confident and treated it as any other lesson, listening to all instructions given. Everything was going fantastic, I was feeling confident and ready for my manoeuvre, which as soon as we turned down a particular road I knew it was going to be a parallel park (the least favourite of mine). This is where all my problems begun, I done the correct procedure in ensuring I checked all around me, went super slow and was alert at all times, yet as I begun to turn my wheel in a full circle to the left, I had to come to a stop as another car approached me.
I sat there for what felt like forever waiting for the car to either move or to allow me to continue, which eventually he waved me forward to continue, yet as soon as I went on to move he started to attempt to drive. This lead me to have to stop again as he was still continuing to drive on. He managed to finally get around the car by putting half of his on the curb to drive past, after this I turned to my examiner to ask if I could continue and by this time he told me to just drive on and turn left down the next road.
I was filled with instant dread as I knew I had failed at this point, I didn’t let this knock my confidence and still continued to the end of my test which I learned I only received 7 minors at the end, but with a serious on my park for observation which leads to an instant fail! I was disappointed I hadn’t passed, but knew I was going to go for my test again as I had my car at home already, which is insured with a learner driver policy allowing me to drive it anywhere as long as I have someone with me who meets the criteria.
Consider all your options if you look to do an intensive course
Overall, my outcome of the driving course wasn’t fantastic especially as I learned that the “free correctional lessons” you receive if you fail your test are actually in a classroom learning about driving and not actually out on the road. To drive again is an additional extra which you have to book separately with your instructor in their free time outside of the course provider, which created problems as I work usually and the instructor i had was also a private instructor outside and his normal day to day, which meant time was limited.
I naturally expected to have to pay for my test again, yet didn’t expect the ultimate stinging price of £137 that the course provider intended to charge if you failed. Your test fee which is £62, a £25 fast track free through their DVLA quick link and a final £50 charge to use the instructor’s car! After careful thought and consideration, I came to the decision I will be re-taking my test but in my own car and booking directly through the DVLA website – the wait times aren’t very long at all if you book in advance – which will save me a small fortune. I personally feel that the week's course could be quite a dangerous way to learn to drive if you never have, out of 8 of us who took the course only 2 have still passed their test to this date. On the course, only 3 of us had previous driving experience before we took the intense course, which meant 5 people had never driven before and felt they weren’t ready despite driving every day.
Watch this space for my next blog, I will be giving you all the details of my purchase of my first car and hopefully how I have finally passed my test! Speak soon :D