My lovely hairdresser made me feel old this week when he told me he's taking the theory part of his driving test. He's 25 this year and I was giving him one of those "back in my day" speeches about how driving tests didn't involve written theory exams but concentrated on the practical side of driving. He asked me how long I've been driving and I suddenly realised it's longer than he's been on the planet! "Err, twenty-odd years," I replied. I looked in the mirror and didn't feel as though I'd been driving for almost 25 years. I passed my test in May 1987 when I was 17. Where did those years go? I asked him if he thinks doing a theory as well as a practical test has improved the way new drivers handle the road. Personally, I don't think it has. I got asked three questions while doing my test, one of which I got wrong - yet he still passed me. Have they made the test harder now, are they trying to clamp down on idiot drivers, or are we just being stung for more money in view of paying out for lessons and tests?
A while ago I wrote a post about young drivers being charged a painful amount on their insurance and how I thought it was unfair. But if a much harder test has been introduced, shouldn't this mean that our younger drivers are getting a better education behind the wheel and have more knowledge of the Highway Code? In my opinion, I don't think anyone really learns how to drive until they've passed their test and are driving the car completely on their own, with no back-seat drivers, no instructors and no one reminding them to indicate, check their mirror, slow down etc. It isn't surprising that insurance companies are charging so much though, because if a new driver doesn't have the experience then surely they have more chance of causing an accident. On the other hand, if I were to take my test again I couldn't be sure I'd pass, and I reckon that goes for many others.