Learning to drive
Your learning car is likely to be a Nissan Sunny or a Toyota Corolla, and you can choose to learn in a manual or an automatic. Schools have female instructors for women. Beware, though, that the waiting list to start lessons can be as long as four months. If you’re willing to pay an extra wedge of money, you can get ‘VIP’ treatment, and skip the waiting list.
The driving test
The practical element is something of a lottery, with the drive only lasting about 10 minutes. Traffic police seem to fail people randomly. Before getting that far, you’ll need to pass a mock test. The school will then apply for your proper test. You then attend a one-hour lecture on road signs and safety. Next, you take part in the multiple choice theory test. You sit in front of a computer screen and choose your answers. Although not particularly taxing, you do need to score 10 out of 10, so take your time.
Once the theory is out of the way, you need to try the parking test. This involves a fairly simple reverse park. However, this is one of the main areas where people trip up, so get practising. When this is done, you will take the main test – your driving school will apply for you. Auto slots are easier to get than manual tests and there are more male testers than female testers.
When your test comes around, you will share the car with three other hopefuls. Each person drives for about 10 minutes. You will be expected to perform a number of lane changes and do a U-turn. If you are unlucky enough to fail, there is no system of appeals – just take your form, go home and sulk.
How to pass
If you can’t understand your instructor, don’t be afraid to ask for another one. During the test, make an obvious head movement towards the rear-view mirror to show the examiner you are actually checking behind you. Finally, try to practise in a variety of different cars. The test car will have a different clutch (if manual) and brakes to your learner car.
Belhasa Driving Centre
Various locations (04 881 7171; www.bdc.ae)