Being driven crazy

l car

There are two reasons right now that are driving me crazy. Don’t worry, by crazy I mean both befuddled and angry.

The first is the totally unfair way in which we treat people who, like my wife Lisa, come to this country and within one year of driving on their driving licences issued by their home countries have to gain a provisional licence then arrange to get through the UK test.

Not unfair in itself, I am sure you will agree. But wait, there are a total of 48 places that enjoy simpler arrangements. Anyone arriving clutching one of their driving licences can just get it swapped for a UK one, no questions asked.

These 48 include all 27 other European Union members, four parts of the British Isles that have their own licences and a further 17 ‘designated’ countries that have exchange agreements with the UK. You will find a complete list as an addendum to this blog.

Now, unless you are reading my blog for the very first time, you will know that Lisa is from the United States of America. Not just the USA, Lisa is a proud New Yorker having been born and brought up in the Bronx.

Anyway, a quick look at the list of 48 countries shows that the USA is not one of them. Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea? Yes. USA? No.

I have no idea why there is no exchange agreement between the UK and USA, despite the so-called ‘special relationship’ we are supposed to enjoy, yet we have one with South Korea. That sounds crazier than me.

The lack of any UK/USA agreement is why Lisa, who has been qualified to drive in the US for 38 years, has been taking lessons to learn to pass the UK practical test. She has already passed the theory part, no problem.

Talking of the practical test brings me to the second of my two reasons that I mentioned earlier.

Lisa’s was booked for 1.08pm last Thursday (don’t ask, I am sure there must be a very good reason why tests are arranged for such peculiar times) but was cancelled by the test centre on Wednesday, with it being rearranged for four weeks’ time. Still Thursday, still 1.08pm.

As if that was not bad enough, we then found out the reason. The examiner due to handle Lisa’s test had not been struck down by a sudden illness. No, the fact is that she is pregnant and was advised to start her maternity leave earlier than planned.

To me that sounds like her management was poorly prepared. They knew the examiner was pregnant and should have been ready for such a foreseeable eventuality as her needing to stop work earlier than had been scheduled.

That way, neither Lisa nor 13 other people would have had their tests delayed.


Driving Licences that can be swapped for a British one

EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden

British isles places with own licences: Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Man

Designated countries having exchange agreements with the UK: Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.


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