Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Driving in the USA Part I

Brief intro to subject: I moved from India to the US 7 months back, to work in Plano (One of the innumerable cities and towns that constitute the Dallas Forth Worth metroplex)Let me begin by saying that I was stupid enough (and lazy enough) not to get an international driver's permit in can get these things back home without even knowing how to drive.So, after coming here, my number one priority was to learn to drive: the company provided me with transportation for 2.5 months; after that, I was on my own. And, there is practically no public transport in Plano. I occasionally see a bus around my apartment that doesn't seem to go anywhere useful.

Visit to Texas Department of Public Saftey I: A learner's permit was easy to get. I still remembered how to cram textbooks so mugging a thin handbook wasn't that hard. Even now, my knowledge of some of the rules surprises me - especially when I see all these drivers around me who don't follow them. My relocation counselor was paid by the company to chauffer me to and from the test, and also to give my moral support and all that good stuff.The company was also kind enough to pay for driving lessons. The teacher I signed up with kept yelling at me for lack of confidence; I just hated changing lanes. I didn't manage to learn properly, and I ran out of the maximum sum the company would pay for. My uncle also assisted in my efforts to learn to drive. He is patient and unperturbable in the face of my fantastic driving. He actually let me drive his car on an interstate (and later told me that the airbag in the drivers seat didn't work). A colleague also let me practice a bit on his brand new Toyota Camry. Anyway, let me get to the interesting part.

Visit to Texas DPS( Department of Public Safety) II: I went with a relocation counselor(again paid for by my company) to give the test. We waited in line for an hour. If you don't get in line an hour before the DPS opens, you can't hope to get an appointment to take your test that day. There was an Arab guy from UK who kept cribbing to a teenager he befriended in the line. The Plano DPS computers were down, and had been down for days(couldn't they have put a sign?) so we went to the Carrollton DPS. I got an appointment and gave the test. I flunked for turning too slow into the service road of PGBT(President George Bush Turnpike, a major tollway in DFW). In retrospect, that wasn't really a good reason to flunk. When I drive, people turn in front of me all the time, and force me to brake, and many of these drivers are people who've obviously been driving before they could legally drink beer.

Visit III: With my uncle. By now, I was a good turner and all that good stuff. Arab dude was in the line again. This time he was cribbing to my uncle, taking care to omit all the F-words he otherwise sprinkled his conversation with. We get an appointment, and I get in line to take the test. I confidently parallel park, and then get out. I flunk again. Before leaving the parking lot. Coz I didn't yield to a dude turning into the parking lot. I cried buckets...and poor uncle had to console the adolescent daughter substitute who adopted him. I promised God all sorts of things if I could just pass this test

Visit IV: Next day, with uncle. By now, I am an expert at standing in line on a cold winter morning. As luck would have it, even though we got there early, the slots open to take the test were exhausted before it was our turn. You can't book these things in advance, by the way.

Visit V: With the new Toyota Camry and its owner. I just prayed, and drove. I "pretended" to look for other vehicles and God luckily made sure there were no vehicles around; so not much chance of flunking because of not "yielding". I was so so happy!!! The Toyota Camry owner got a good treat and a lot of goodwill from me. God bless him.I also kept my promises, all the ones I made, including not having chocolate for 3 whole months!!Apparently, almost all Indians flunk it as a matter of routine at least once, if not 2, 3, 4, 5 times. I saw an Indian lady cry, plead and beg the instructor to pass her (while I was in the test taking queue during Visit 5) She too had flunked in the parking I did in my earlier visit.More in Part II! Do come back for a fun filled ride on: how I bought my car


UncleSam said...


A very good blog for those who are new to driving. I think everybody do the same mistakes. I have gone this all in the IOWA state. I was searching such kind of blogged experience as my wife has to give the driving test in the next week.

Swapna said...

Hey!! gr8 experience .. I was searching for some info about driving test in Dallas .. Hope I take care of all the precautions you have given in you blog.. thanks for sharing it. Hope to clear the test…