Driving school

Here’s What Happened When I Passed an American Driving Test

A photo of a New York driver's license with the caption

The big question, do I now have one?
Drawing: New York DMV

When I started at Jalopnik, people were outraged that I didn’t have an American driver’s license. How could the management hire this idiot who doesn’t even know how to drive! Although this is not strictly true as I have a UK driver Licence , I took one more step towards qualification for work when I took my New York test drive earlier this week.

The last driving test I took was December 7, 2011, at 1:40 p.m. to be exact. It was at home in the UK and it was a 45 minute affair that started with answering questions about the car itself, like how to check your oil level, and ended with a bay park at the test center.

In the meantime, I was tasked with reading a remote license plate, navigate the streets of the hilly city of Sheffield safely, make an emergency stop and perform one of the three manoeuvres. For me, he was backing up around the corner. It was very organized and sterile and looked like an official examination.

My experience in New York was not like that.

A photo of the hills around Sheffield, UK.

This is basically where I took my first driving test.
Photo: Christophe Furlong (Getty Images)

Before the test, I mentally prepared myself for a quick lap of the block, a parallel park, then a return trip. Entry and exit in half an hour.

That’s not what happened.

In place, I was heading to the testing site with two other students who took turns to take the test. One test we were warned we could wait up to three hours to get seated.

Three hours! Three hours cramped an aging Hyundai Elantra with two other people silently stressing about their impending exam!

As we all got into the instructor’s car, no one said anything. As we walked to the test site, no one said anything. The only thing that broke the silence was the salsa music we had on the radio. Honestly, it was a vibe.

A photo of a 2012 Hyundai Elantra.

I never want to set foot in an old Elantra again.
Photo: hyundai

The test site was next to a bus depot. And As we pulled up there was a huge banner from the operator saying something like ‘Good luck on your test drive, your next career is waiting for you here’.

Always nice to have a backup, I guess.

Anyway, we had now reached the queue for a test. It stretched around the block and included everything from rusty sedans plastered with driving school logos to a pristine Acura RDX. It seemed like an ambitious choice.

We sat in the car, making awkward little talk as we edged closer to the front. Everyone seemed confident, but no one was looking forward to their date with fate.

Although a slot was reserved, we waited over an hour before the first participant from our car was dispatched. When they returned, the second person jumped on board.

A photo of a sign for the New York DMV office.

The New York DMV, where hopes and dreams go to die.
Photo: Angela Weiss (Getty Images)

While waiting for my appointment, I had time to reflect on the important questions of life. Questions like “WWould the blog click better if I passed or failed the test? »

The moment I decided the traffic would definitely be better if I failed, it was my turn.

We drove away from the test center, which was nothing more than a bit of a drive in the back of a FedEx warehouse. A stop sign, then another, then a left turn. It wasn’t too bad.

As we were turning up a hill, I was told it was time to do a three-turning point. It went off without a hitch. More stop signs, left turns and traffic lights followed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.

Until it’s time to parallel park.

A photo of a subway train traveling down a street in the Bronx.

This is basically where I took my second driving test.
Photo: David Dee Delgado (Getty Images)

I stopped next to a black Honda CRV and balled it up. I went through the motions, but panic set in, and I found myself about two feet off the curb. A few more fixes later, and we were parked. At this point, I thought it was all over.

Corn we drove off, turned left and was asked to park again. This time I directed it. Honestly, it was the best parking lot I’ve done in my decade on the road. Maybe it wasn’t all over?

Then we started going back to the test center. I parked and the examiner got out. No indication of how I had done it.

Naturally, I assumed that meant I had failed.

I remained shaken. In 2011, I had spotted mistakes on my test but I had an extra half hour to show that I was better than that. Here I was on the exam no more than ten minutes, probably closer to five.

How can one judge someone’s ability to drive in such a short time? Especially since it took me several minutes to relax and stop panicking, and I’ve been driving for 10 years!

Before I started talking about my impending failure, the rest of the students chimed in. We all talked about what we thought we had done and how we were going to kill the two hours until the results were released. For my part, I had an appointment with the excellent Sparks Brothers documentary.

By learning the nuances of this electropop duo, I was doomed to failure. I repeated saying to my partner that no, we might not be able to rent an RV when we go to Bonneville and Yellowstone later this year.

As the documentary arrived Sparks #1 in Heaven time, I logged in to check my fate. There he was, “Passed” in the type of greed. Good news!

So it seems we’ll never know if a failed test would work better than a successful one.