Failed my theory test this morning. By THREE points (one point from the multiple choice section, two points from hazard perception).
I did a reasonable amount of revision. I’ve not read ALL the books I’ve bought. I’ve read the sections I thought relevant, and tried to remember all the signs and symbols. I don’t understand why I need to know precisely how many feet is needed to stop in time given certain weather conditions (I’d prefer to measure in car lengths + how hard to put my foot on the brake x hazard perception = how well I will stop).
I will likely never tow a caravan. I can’t drive on motorways supervised because the law says I can’t, and thus I have to rely on my memory of other people driving on motorways plus a bunch of other dos and don’ts.
I find the whole multiple choice theory test to be silly. But if I found that silly, the hazard perception video section is even worse. People who are experienced drivers have found it to be a PITA and potentially inaccurate.
The idea is to point out impending hazards just by clicking when or when they’re about to occur – the system isn’t interactive and modern as a Ford Model T: yes, it works, but it’s not terribly efficient or very well made for the modern motorist. The whole test is incredibly dull. You have to wait for each of the 14 clips to load fully (the system appears to be run on Windows 7 or, shudder, Windows Vista).
But the important this to take away is that It doesn’t go anywhere near to replicating a real driving experience. You know, the kind of driving experience you’d get by actually going out in a car with an instructor and how not to cause (or be part of) an accident!!
For starters your view is very limited. You can’t see out the left and right windows. There are no mirrors. When your virtual car is turning corners or going around a roundabout, it’s most unnerving! You have no peripheral vision. You’re looking straight on.
The clips are actually computer generated. This gives the whole experience an additional level of hyper reality. Some of the CG characters we encounter look to be floating. And as for the sheep – they were unintentionally hilarious.
The DVLA’s idea of testing people at this stage seems terribly out of date. With Virtual Reality making its mark, you’d think that DLVA would be working with the best games and VFX developers to produce a test which you could take wearing a VR headset and a button. You could replicate an entire car – with the ability to look out both windows, look at mirrors and so on. You could replicate any hazard safely without the student (or instructor) getting hurt. Plus the tester could generate completely random situations instantly, giving the test a bit of an edge. No two tests would be the same.
But the current system is just horrendous. That said, plenty of people pass their theory test first time, so it can’t be all bad. I just have to go back, re-read the material, and hope that I’m a bit faster at clicking a mouse (and not a terribly comfortable one at that) at times that are deemed acceptable to somebody, somewhere at the DVLA.
BONUS Hazard Perception Video
Can you spot the hazard in the following video? Click anywhere on your screen – it doesn’t matter because it probably won’t be registered anyway, or if it does, the tiniest flag will pop up somewhere (another bugbear – the video UI is awful – to the point where you have to read the contents of a physical green folder at the start of the test to tell you that the mouse vanishing is normal).
The answer? I’m the hazard: one should never fire a rocket launcher at one’s car after it breaks down. You should call your local mechanic instead.