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How old were you when you took your driving test? And what does being able to drive mean to you?

(67 Posts)
BlueRuby Mon 18-May-20 13:55:50

Driving! What does being able to drive mean to you now? When did you pass your test? I was 19 when passed my driving test in the 1970s. The first attempt was a disaster. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong! I was paralysed by anxiety, and driving my boyfriend's car. My three point turn was a thirty point turn, my left turn ran across the pavement, my right turn cut across the other lane and I barely missed a pedestrian, and when we got back to the test centre, I nearly ran the tester over by reversing as he was passing behind the car. That might have been revenge!! Six weeks later, when I took the second test, I was in my own car (a blue 1966 Hillman Minx costing £65), and it was perfection, and I passed with flying colours. I've always felt that driving a ton of lethal weapon was a priviledge, and I am a confident driver. I've driven extensively, all over the country, all sorts of vehicles, and driven abroad, too. Driving always made me feel independent. As I get older, and realise that my ability to drive may deteriorate, it feels even more of a priviledge and necessity, and something I will miss terribly. What does driving mean to you?

Witzend Mon 18-May-20 14:10:47

Early 20s, when living in Cyprus. Lessons could be confusing, since my instructor would be calling out to people in the street , e.g. ‘Is my suit ready yet?’ to the tailor, and then right away saying ‘Put three gear after stop.’

I passed first time, but it was certainly easier there then. I heard of someone who passed after driving through a red light - the examiner just said, ‘Remember next time!’
I was a nervous driver for quite a while, but was v glad to have got it out of the way. Being able to drive has been invaluable over the years.

Had to take a U.K. test after I’d been back In England for a year, Had an excellent ex-policeman instructor - not sure I’d have passed without him. He once made me do a hill start over and over - I couldn’t think what on earth I was doing wrong, until he told me I hadn’t looked over my shoulder - would have been an instant fail then.

Grannybags Mon 18-May-20 14:16:53

I passed first time when I was 17. Couldn't wait to learn and had my first lesson on my 17th birthday.

I'm a confident driver and am happy to drive anything, anywhere. Even though my husband can drive I usually do - I'm not a very good passenger!

It means independence to me. I dread being too decrepit to drive!

ninathenana Mon 18-May-20 14:20:12

Mum and dad never had a car nor did himself when I met him. We had been married 10 yrs before we could afford one. So I was 31 when I passed my test first time.
I'd be lost without my car. When mum was alive I took her shopping every week and to all her appointments. Himself never learnt to drive so it's all down to me. I quiet enjoy driving but as I get older going anywhere unfamiliar makes me nervous.

SalsaQueen Mon 18-May-20 14:45:29

I was 37 (24 years ago) when I passed my test - on the 6th attempt! I failed 5 tests during a year before. My nerves just got the better of me, and I went to pieces each time.

Once I'd passed my test, I became a Community Care Worker, so drove all over the place, to people in their own homes. I used to go up to 15 miles away from my house. Driving has been a blessing - picking up GC, going on holiday, going out with family, etc. It has definitely made me lazy though. I don't like walking anywhere grin

Jabberwok Mon 18-May-20 14:50:10

I passed first time too when I was 20 in1963!! I used to drive all over the place both for leisure and work , but these days I only drive locally and let DH do the very few long journeys we occasionally undertake!

crazyH Mon 18-May-20 14:53:12

48 -best thing ever ! The following year my husband left me - had I not passed, it would have meant depending on others. I found a new freedom .......

Jabberwok Mon 18-May-20 14:54:12

SalsaQueen. I worked for Care in the Community too for many years. I absolutely loved it and met so many interesting mostly elderly people. Like you I travelled many miles in all weather's. Now I'm that elderly person, but as yet I don't need me! or you-yet!!

Calendargirl Mon 18-May-20 14:54:30

Passed when I was 17, second test.
I’m glad I am able to drive, but it’s not something I particularly enjoy. Prefer to be driven if the person is competent, i.e. DH.

If I had heaps of money, I would have a chauffeur. Always wonder why the Royal Family ever want to drive themselves, I would be quite happy waving and smiling from the back.


Barmeyoldbat Mon 18-May-20 15:04:59

Passed just before my 18th birthday first time after having 6 weeks of lessons, two a week sometimes three. I knew how to drive but nothing about how a car works or what needed doing other than putting petrol in, it was my boyfriend who told me about topping it with water, checking the oil level etc. I love driving it has given me complete freedom and I believe it is a life skill that everyone should be taught.

Davida1968 Mon 18-May-20 15:09:51

SalsaQueen, I was just the same as you; 38 when I passed- it was my 6th test, all due to "test anxiety". (Again, like you, it opened up a career opportunity which required driving skills.) I'm so glad that I learned. I've a relative who didn't learn to drive until she was well into her sixties. When her husband was in hospital she realised what a problem it was (for her) to be a non-driver, and so she learned in an automatic car. She is very glad that she did this: now widowed and living in a rural area, she has an element of independence

Lizzies Mon 18-May-20 15:16:58

Tried to learn with my mother when I was 17, but scared her to death so that was that. When we got married we had a Reliant Regal and I wasn’t learning in that! When we got a “proper car” I took lessons and passed 3rd time. I was never very confident and a shunt put me off entirely. Fast forward 30 odd years and DH is very ill. We decided to get an automatic and I would give it another shot. Now I am on my own I am glad we did. Although Covid has put paid to my plans for days out for now.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Mon 18-May-20 15:17:45

I passed my 6th test at the age of 54. I'd had 77 lessons - DH said to keep at it, I could drive and all I had to do was to please just one civil servant. I was a nervous test taker.
It is brilliant to be independent. A 'little thing' like the weekly shop would be difficult without my little car.

Grandma70s Mon 18-May-20 15:18:10

I took a test when I was in my late twenties, failed, and have never taken another. I am very happy not to drive.

AGAA4 Mon 18-May-20 15:24:52

I passed my test when I was 36. On my previous test I had pulled up behind a queue of cars. The examiner said " I think you will find these cars are parked" It was one of the most nerve wracking times of my life.
Where I live now it would be difficult to get anywhere without being able to drive so glad I persisted.

Puzzler61 Mon 18-May-20 15:24:54

I had my first test aged 19 and failed. One of the reasons ticked was “speeding”! I think I wanted it to be over quickly.

I got married, moved town and took another test 12 months later and passed. My DH and I shared a car.

Since then I’ve driven a lot of old bangers and had a new car for the first time last year. We lived abroad for a while and I drove in Holland and Germany.

I’m truly grateful for the independence being able to drive gives me. And the thrill of the open road with “my kind of music” playing through the speakers.

tanith Mon 18-May-20 15:28:38

Took my test when I was 31 passed first time then 3 yrs later I got a job driving in the NHS. That allowed me my independence (divorced) and able to build a pension which has been so important now I’m on my own after my 2nd husband sadly died. Without my driving job I wouldn’t of bought a house and lived happily with DH for many years. I love driving and hope I have many more years of independence because that what it means to me.

TerriBull Mon 18-May-20 15:41:22

I was around 24, later than a couple of my friends who learnt and passed aged 18, but they had dads who took them out in the family car, there was no way my father would have wanted to teach me. Even my mother learnt with a driving school and not with him. I passed my test on my 2nd attempt thank God! sick to death of the perpetual practice of "reversing round corners", which is hardly ever required in reality. Parallel parking, now where was the practice for that hmm

I was very glad I drove when my children were young, otherwise it would have impeded their social life no end grin I was a permanent taxi service in those days, plus it was invaluable for when I went back to work part time for my husband and had to combine that with school pick ups etc. I've had a car since I gave up work full time to have my first child, I'd hate to be without a car,although I can't say I love driving, I definitely prefer to be driven.

mokryna Mon 18-May-20 15:43:10

Remember the electricity strikes in the 71, in those very dark streets I learnt to drive, I was 21. The streets were so dark you couldn't recognize where you were but I passed my test first go. I don't have my original papers as I had to give them in exchange for French ones which, in turn got changed for Chinese ones. Did you know that in the early 90s, women in China were frowned upon to drive there, moreover, if they were over 50 they were not allowed to drive at all! I am so happy to be able to drive.

Blinko Mon 18-May-20 15:47:30

Passed the test at age 27 at the fourth attempt. I was eight months pregnant, tum almost touching the steering wheel. I think he was glad to get me out of the car!

I love driving and OH and I take it in turns. It means independence to me. I would hate to be stranded should anything happen to OH, healthwise.

Why do people move to the country, if they can't drive? It a must, surely.

Charleygirl5 Mon 18-May-20 15:50:18

Passed first time aged 45. My ex had just left me, told me I was too stupid to learn, I could only ever drive an automatic so that was a red rag to a bull.

I remember the examiner told me to take the next left which I did. 100 yards on I stopped suddenly- he asked why and I said that was a no entry. He said would I instruct you to do that- I said no, relaxed because I thought I had failed.

My usual 5 point turn was a perfect 3 and my reversing around a corner was also perfect- I usually mounted the pavement or parked with a large gap to the pavement.

I moved house not long after and the removal fellows were so good, slowing down to make sure I was still following them!

I have never been a confidant driver although driving in London did not bother me and in those days I worked and could park there.

Now it is so useful for shopping but I do realise my driving days will soon be over. I have never driven and would not know how to drive an automatic!

Blinko Mon 18-May-20 15:50:45


Helennonotion Mon 18-May-20 15:58:14

I passed my test first time when I was 17 in the long hot summer of 76. I have barely driven since and have no intention of driving again! I hate cars and the very thought of being behind a wheel fills me with dread. My husband has been recently diagnosed with a visual impairment and is now unable to drive. After 3 months of me driving very badly and very anxiously, we decided to dump the car. On the nights before I was due to drive I couldn't sleep. It's ridiculous as I'm normally a very 'sorted' person but I seem to have such a phobia about driving a car. However, I love my push bike! I fully intend to never stop riding it, even when I get very very old! We both love travelling by train so its all good!

MaizieD Mon 18-May-20 15:58:51

Passed my test first time at 29. I was such a nervous driver that I'd never have tried again if I'd failed it.

Worst moment just after I'd taken it was in a hospital car park. I was parked quite close to the car next to me and when I came to back out (I know, should have backed in) I just seemed to get closer and closer to it. I just couldn't manage to steer in the right direction!

It took me about a year to get really confident driving on my own.

I absolutely love driving now and will be devastated when I have to stop.

Witzend Mon 18-May-20 16:01:59

My dds both took 3 goes to pass, at 18.
Cost us a fortune in lessons, but by the time they passed they’d had so many, in a busy area, that I did feel they were reasonably safe to be let loose on the roads in my fairly elderly car.

OTOH a friend of a dd had just 12 lessons in a very quiet country area where her family had a holiday home, passed there first time - and then for over a year was too scared to drive the car her folks had bought her, in the much busier SW London area where she lived!

BTW Charleygirl, automatics are easy! I’ve had both, and when we were back in the U.K. for summer leave from abroad, I’d swap between the 2 without even thinking.

Going from an automatic to a manual, on the other hand....