This is the beginning of your practical, on the road, driving test. You must pass this part, or the test will go no further. On the way to your car, the examiner will have asked you to stop and read the number of a vehicle.
The main thing is to relax completely. This is not easy when you are about to take your driving test, but it is vital that you make a conscious effort to relax from top to toe, then slowly and carefully read out the number the examiner has chosen.
“H384UVW”, I said, hesitatingly. “That isn’t quite right”, he replied, “Would you like to move a little closer?”
If you get it wrong, you will get another go, a little closer this time. Again – relax.
We had moved up about five paces. The car looked a lot nearer now. “Try it again from here”, he said, “And try to relax. Take your time.” I could see I had got one of the letters wrong the first time. More confidently I said “H384UVM.” Silly of me to get the last letter upside down before. “Thank you, lead the way to the car.”
(If you get this wrong you will be asked to read a different number from a measured distance of 20.5 metres (67 feet). This is incredibly close. You won’t believe it! Again, just when you are most likely to get all tensed up – relax.)
Getting closer to the car, without giving it an MOT, the examiner is quite likely to spot anything illegal or unsafe, and in that case, the test will be terminated. So the lesson there is obvious. Do not attach your “L” plates so they are flat on the bonnet. They can’t be seen from a few yards away, and are illegal anyway.
Arrived at your car now and the examiner says he is going to ask a few questions about the vehicle and other matters relating to road safety. He will give you time to put on gloves if you want to. After this is completed –
“Would you get in please, and make yourself comfortable. I will join you in a moment”, he said, beckoning me to the car.
Get in the car whilst the examiner is filling in the preliminary details of the car on his form.
I unlocked the driver’s door, which automatically unlocked all the others, and got in. My instructor had let me practice unlocking the door, as he had known some people have difficulty doing this, probably due to nerves! The examiner was filling in his form with the car’s registration number and other details. I had been taught to get straight into the car and not try to open the examiner’s door and see him in.. For one thing it would give me a moment to settle down. The examiner got in.
No need to go through an exaggerated “cockpit drill” such as adjusting the seat, internal mirror etc. You just got out of the thing, didn’t you? However make sure your door is properly shut, and check the gear is in neutral before starting the engine.
“Throughout the drive continue ahead, unless traffic signs direct you otherwise, and when I want you to turn left or right I will tell you in plenty of time”, he said, and added “Okay?” I nodded. Then he said, “Move off when you’re ready, please.”
I started the engine. This can be surprisingly difficult if you haven’t practised it!
Just before you move off from the side of the road, use the mirrors to get a general look behind, then immediately before moving off, look round over your right shoulder – a proper look, not just a token one. Take in what you see, and if you can move off without inconveniencing anyone, including cyclists, coming up behind, return to looking ahead. If nothing has happened to alter things, then move off, checking in mirrors as you do.