What Do You Mean I Can’t Drive Your Car …

Mini Driver No More - Elizabeth Harper

I’m grounded.

After 35 years of getting into a car, fastening the seatbelt, and turning the key in the ignition, I no longer can do that … at least not in this country, for now.

Moving to the UK has its challenges and some are easier to understand than others. I can understand why I should have to take a written test to prove I know the rules of the road here, but having had a valid driver’s license for 35 years in the US, I would think I might be able to skip the driving part of the exam.

I know you’re probably thinking, ” Oh good grief Elizabeth, just take the test and stop moaning about it! ” I might think the same without knowing the rest of the story.

While I was stuck in Atlanta this summer John opened the annual bill from his auto insurance company to find that it had jumped from a reasonable 180 BPS (about $295 US) to over 700 BPS which is about $1150 dollars.

Calling to discuss the huge increase, he discovered that my provisional license which is like a learner’s permit in the US had caused the rate increase. It seems after 35 years of driving I now have more in common with a teenage boy than the other 50 year-old female drivers out there.

Being a sensible man when it comes to money, John did what I would have done and took me off the policy grounding me until I can pass the test and be eligible for a more reasonable rate of insurance. I have to wonder if my 35 years of driving will be acknowledged by the insurance company when I do pass or will that part of my life be as non-existent as my credit rating.

That’s right, I have no credit rating anymore either. I still have one in the US just not over here, but that’s another post that perhaps I can combine with a one titled, ” What do you mean I’m not qualified? ” or maybe one I’ll call ” What about my university degree and years of professional work experience, doesn’t that count? ”

Sorry, I think I slipped over into the beginnings of a rant for a second. I’m back now.

Getting behind the wheel with no car insurance means hiring a driving instructor. Yes, I did say a driving instructor. Never mind that I’ve driven from Scotland to London three times in a rental car and loads of places between Cornwall and London, I can only drive on my American license for a year before being required to get a UK one and that year is long gone.

So I’m grounded for now until I hire an instructor and pay more money (my learner’s permit or provisional license) cost about $82 dollars. The test fees will be another 93 BPS or about $150 US and don’t even ask what an instructor will cost. Just know that it’s enough to go away somewhere nice for the weekend or a week depending on how many days you can squeak by with before being tested. I haven’t called yet so I don’t know if there’s a required minimum.

When you have an instructor you drive their car for the driving portion of the test and I assume that may drive the cost up a bit. I’m so unenthused about the process and the cost factor that my Highway Code Handbook is still largely unread. I move it from one place to another around the house ignoring it as I can’t help feeling a bit offended by my loss of mobility and parts of my previous identity.

It’s like being 16 again only this time I’m a high-risk teenage boy.

Today’s challenge is to read and study the book and maybe call the instructor to see when I can get back on the road again. Ugh!