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Ray by Day: The most awful test of all

On my way to the Motor Registry last Friday, I chastised myself as I forgot statistic after statistic that I had attempted to rote learn the night before. I was going for my blacks.

I was three months late, due to a lengthy overseas trip and a sudden fear that I would fail and thereby be forced to pay the council far more money than they deserved.
“What percentage of pedestrians hit at 60km/h die? Shit, shit, shit.“
I parked and took my ticket. Thirty minutes and $40 later, they sat me at the computer and said “there you go”.
The test is made up of two parts. The first tests your knowledge on driving safety and statistics regarding crashes and alcohol. The second is touch-screen madness, similar to the test you do to get your green P plates, and is made up of “touch when it’s safe to go” and “touch when you’d slow down” components.
Clicking the “next” button worked approximately every two out of the three times I pressed it. Not a reassuring observation, knowing what would be involved in part two.
Having read the summary points on a “cheat blog” the night before, I passed the first section, no problem. What the RTA doesn’t tell you, though, is that it actually isn’t necessary to read the entire handbook. I read half of it before my brain melted and I gave up for the month, and just that much took me about four hours. You can imagine how long it would take for someone not planning on pursuing a career in the reading/writing field. The summary points and extra stats on the blog take about an hour to get through if you read slowly.
As far as most of the questions regarding demographic go, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that, in all scenarios, young males are to blame. The handbook can’t stress enough just how dangerous those bastards can be. I guess that’s another reason why insurance companies get away with charging them around double the price compared to young women.
The second part threw me a little more. Because my fingernails were getting in the way, I elected to bump the screen with my knuckle, as I noticed other people doing. The “turning right” and “crossing intersection” questions weren’t too bad. I’d been instructed by the blog not to go unless there are literally no cars in sight. That system worked like a charm.
The “slow down” questions got me a little bit worried. Once the video began to roll, the car sped up to the limit. I’d been warned that this kind of daredevil behaviour was looked upon with distaste by the RTA, so I slowed down at the recommended two-second-mark in the film. But sometimes the screen didn’t register my poke. They assure you that a noise will be heard when you have touched the screen. Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly laggy platform. At times, it’s unclear whether the machine even knows you’re sitting there.
(Believe it or not, learner drivers attempting the driving test are encouraged to drive at ten kilometres below the limit. I failed that test the first time, years ago, for crossing a “stale amber light”.)
The next part of the film saw me approaching dreaded parked cars, suicidal women with prams and a large collection of cars wanting to turn or reverse in various locations on the road. At least, that’s what I thought they were, the screen dpi meant that the simulations were too pixelated to accurately identify.
One unhappy customer complained that “For the $40 per go they’re charging people, they should at least put that money into better HD video that doesn’t look like it’s been filmed using a friggin’ toaster.”
Maybe they should just invest in a couple of touch-screen Gameboys. I recall having perfect control over those vehicles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my experience on such platforms actually helps a little in the real world. Well, if what they say about guns has any merit, I guess it’s a given.
Another helpful hint afforded me by this glorious blog’s comment-forum was that “by the time anyone has the opportunity to see a hazard, it’s way too late.” Following this was a comprehensive list of what objects will alert you to future hazards.
These included, but were not limited to, parked cars, cars coming toward you on the opposite side of the road, people in any part of the screen and any signage at all.
I’d done all the recommended tests on the RTA website, but they were 100 per cent useless, due to being completely different tests.
NSW is the only Australian state to have a full license test at all, and has the most expensive license costs. When ACT L-plate-drivers wander into NSW territory, they are allowed to drive 30km/h faster than NSW green P-Platers. Riddle me that.
The shitstorm that was the comment section of this wonder-blog has been of serious interest ever since it was published in 2007, with comments dating up to two weeks ago. It has purportedly assisted hundreds of people pass their test, some of whom had failed over five times.
It has been described (usually accompanied by various expletives) as a revenue raiser, and I’ve run into few people who have said any different.
As my friend, Gareth, from the ACT so eloquently asked me over facebook, “What the shit is a full license test?”
“Do you know how lucky you are to have passed first go?” the RTA lady asked me.
“I guess it was all the study,” I responded.
“Most people fail, and some have to come back four or five times.”

To read more on this incredible blog, go to http://michael.langley.id.au/blog/posts/44

-Lily Ray