04 September 2008

Driving tests

Tom Vanderbilt, author of the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us), discusses the bizarre alternate reality of the driving test:
It is a strange world, marked by an aching pedantry, Talmudic parsings of fine-printed traffic tomes, and ridiculously hypothetical scenarios that tend to have nothing at all to do with the traffic environment in which we will spend our lives.
Any driver, anywhere, can recall the darker moments of these tests. I was told of a nettlesome question from the UK test that has taken on a near-mythological status; namely, what to do when approaching a horse and rider on a roundabout. The correct answer is something of a national refrain, gaily sung from Bournemouth to Blyth: you should expect the rider to go in any direction! On the French test, I had read, lurked this query: "If you are driving down the road and a woman with a pram steps out from the pavement, should you stop or keep going?" The answer, which seems part of some covert Gallic population-reduction scheme, is: "Keep going. This will discourage pedestrians from behaving recklessly."
- Guardian, 3 September 2008 

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