Driving the point home
When a person turns 70 in California, they need to show up at the DMV the next time their license comes up for renewal. They also need to take the handbook test. One of those is easier than the other. Not that you’d guess that from the DMV site:
I call bullshit on that. Apparently, 40 percent of people fail the first time. Including yours truly—and this was after I’d read through the handbook carefully, since sure, rules change and being an experienced driver doesn’t ensure that all the rules of the road stay in the mind. And if you fail three times, you have to reapply—at a cost of an additional $41. I wonder how many people driving without a license are doing so because they couldn’t afford the repeated testing?
Part of the failure rate is that the people who compile the tests just love to ask questions about specific distances, even though most of us couldn’t tell you just how many feet away that marker down the road is—
I took my test, received my failure, and went home to memorize the damned book. I read it aloud. I marked the kinds of things they were sure to ask, and read those sections aloud again.
And I will admit that I learned a few things. Such as—
And it was good to have a reminder that—
Although there were loads of things that, though they’re obvious to any responsible adult, it surprises me that they actually have a rule, such as—
Frankly, there were loads of things that could have been covered more succinctly by merely stating:
Do not drive like an idiot.
Some of the illustrations took a fair amount of puzzling over, even if you were familiar with driving through a roundabout or having bicycles on the road with you.
But other things, well, whoever wrote this section of the handbook is just plain wrong:
Turn on your lights 30 minutes AFTER sunset? And BEFORE sunrise? Wouldn’t that render most cars completely invisible until they’re right on top of you?
But it’s the plethora of precise punishments that I had to commit to memory—
However, I noted what they said, tried to memorize the difference between the punishment for one crime and that for another (fine, bigger fine, fine plus jail, or man you’ve truly screwed up and you’re going to prison.)
Also, it occurred to me, somewhat belatedly, that there is a difference between 911, the DMV, and law enforcement. Which, yes, makes sense, and might even be obvious, but I don’t think it’s quite so apparent as the DMV appears to think. Perhaps they might have noted there, along with the other too-obvious-to-bother-saying notes, that reporting something to the police does not mean you have told the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The second time through, I passed. Rest safe, America, knowing that Laurie King is behind the wheel, and knows where she can, and cannot, do a U-turn.