One down, four to go – today I passed my PCV Driver Theory Test. This was the multiple choice question module, which I took at the test centre in Torquay.
After scoring 48 out of 50 in the second online practice test I was fairly confident that I’d pass but I’d revised frantically anyway. I was nervous as I walked down into town in the rain, rehearsing in my head some of the questions that were likely to cause me trouble. These would be the ones involving numbers; EU driving hours, weights, distances and so on. I kept reassuring myself “It’ll be OK. After all, it’s not rocket science, is it?”
As I stood in the waiting area there was a young woman at the desk in a bit of a state. She’d turned up to re-take her theory test but had forgotten to bring the paper counterpart of her driver’s licence. The man behind the desk was adamant that she couldn’t take the test without both parts and she was adamant that she hadn’t needed to show it the first time. He was right of course so, while she phoned a friend, I got myself booked in. The woman was just telling her friend that she’d have to cancel the booking (and forfeit the fee) when Mr Jobsworth turned into Mr Second Chance and told the lady that, if she could be back within 15 minutes with her licence, she could still take the test.
By this time I’d been signed in and had stowed my coat, phone and umbrella in a locker and was ready to take the test. The small room was divided into about 10 workstations with touch screens and I was allocated number 4. There was a brief on-screen introduction to the test, most of which I’d seen before in the online practice tests. I ran through it anyway. I cleaned my glasses, blew my nose, said a little prayer, took a deep breath and hit the ‘go’ button.
With the date of my bus driver Theory Test drawing closer, I thought I’d take the simulated Hazard Perception Test that’s provided on the DSA training DVD. Having watched the tutorial part of the programme earlier I went through the simulated test today. This is a series of clips recorded out on the roads, showing different real life hazards, both in the country and in town.
I thought it would be quite easy, having been a car driver for more than 30 years. I always try to be careful and observant on the road but I was disappointed to only score 1 out of 5 in the first section. What could have gone wrong?
I dutifully clicked my mouse when a hazard presented itself but, when I only scored 2 out of 5 in the next section I realised that I wasn’t identifying the potential hazards early enough. After each section the clip is re-run with a commentary to identify where all the hazards were. I soon found out that, not only was I late in clicking, I was missing simple things like a muddy road surface and warning signs beside the road.
After changing the timing and frequency of my mouse clicks, my scoring gradually improved until finally scoring 5 out of 5 on the penultimate clip.
Suitably pleased with my score, I moved on to the second practice Theory Test.
It’s time for another delve in the archives. I took this photograph at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, a mind-blowing feast of transport nostalgia. Among the many static displays in 1989 was this pair of buses, each one being particularly significant to me. So it was quite a coincidence to find them parked next to each other!
VFJ 995 is a 1958 Leyland Titan PD2/40 with MCW bodywork. It was one of a batch of 5 purchased by Exeter Corporation, mostly for city work although, in my childhood, I did see them occasionally on the Exmouth – Exeter service. They would also turn up on schools service outside the comprehensive in Exmouth in the early 1970s.
This evening I booked my bus driver Theory Test. That’s only three weeks away – gulp!
I’ve been revising from the official Driving Standards Agency (DSA) text books for drivers of large vehicles and earlier this evening ran through one of the practice theory tests provided by the DSA on their website. The actual test will consist of 100 multiple choice questions but the online practice test has 50 sample questions. I scored 47 out of 50 which was quite encouraging!
To be honest, most of the questions are common sense and all but the most irresponsible driver would score quite well without any revision. Previous experience as a conductor helped a lot because that has given me an awareness of what a driver of a large vehicle has to face.
I’ve also had a run through the DSA Hazard Perception training DVD (see photograph above) because that test has to be taken at the same time as the theory test. There’s also a simulated test session on the DVD which I’ll tackle next.
Just to explain, the young lady on the steps of the coach on the screen is the public face of the DSA training DVD!