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On the road again

Today I drove a car on the public road for the first time in over 20 years. I was, you'll be relieved to know, in a dual-control car with a professional instructor. I have a full licence; I passed my test just days before my 18th birthday. That was a busy half-term, as I took my driving test on Monday, came to Sheffield Tues (by train) , had interviews at the university Weds and came home, and had my 18th birthday and party on Thurs. After that I drove Mum's Metro fairly regularly until I came up to Sheffield that September. I drove a handful of times during my time at university (including a short trip in a Jaguar XJS), but not really to speak of since 1988.

However, recently I applied for a change in my Disablilty Living Allowance. I was rather optimistically hoping for the Higher Rate Mobility component, for which you have to show that you're almost unable to walk, or only with 'severe discomfort'. At the time I applied, I was walking quite well and it was hard to remember just how bad it can be sometimes. The benefits advisor I went to said I was very much an outside chance, which is what I was thinking, really, However, the planets must have been aligned correctly, or something, as I not only was award Higher Rate, with no fuss, I got my answer within three weeks of sending in the application. As the letter says you should wait at least 11 weeks before asking what's happening, an answer from a govt. dept. in under three weeks is nothing short of miraculous !

Getting Higher Rate automatically qualifies me for a blue disabled parking badge, which I got the next day. It also means I can take advantage of the Motability Scheme. I give them my DLA mobility money, and they give me a new car, with insurance, breakdown cover, road tax, servicing, tyres and window replacement. After three years, I hand the car back and choose another, brand new one. I get to choose the car I want, and can have adaptations done. Still got to pay for the petrol, which ain't cheap, but a pretty good deal. You can choose to take hire purchase, rather than renting, which is what my preferred option is.

So, not having driven for so long, I figured I'd better get some proper, supervized practice in first. And a new copy of the Highway code. Actually driving again is somewhat scary, but I want to do it. Today's lesson was good; stopping a little too sharply, and need to get back in tune with all the things you need to be aware of, and to do instinctively, without having to think. Still, it was coming back by the end of the lesson. I had some problems changing gear in certain directions - not used to the feel of the gear lever yet. It was rather disconcerting to look at too; leather covered, with leather wrapped around the shaft and coming up around the sides of the knob. Yes, it did look like a penis with the foreskin partially retracted. Still, I don't look at the gearstick generally when actually driving,

Looking forward to the next lesson on Monday.

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Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
miss_next
20th Mar, 2010 18:34 (UTC)
Good heavens! Congratulations on getting a prompt response out of the government. :-)

Rather you than me driving, but I hope it turns out to be fun!
linda_joyce
20th Mar, 2010 19:05 (UTC)
If I were you I would go for the resting side not buy your own( see this article http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4697247_value-after-driving-off-lot.html) you have to find the money for insurance and road tax and servicing and damage up to the first , in my case, £250. IIRC from talking to my cleaner at one of the libraries I managed, with the rental option not only is every thing covered but you also get a new car every 3 years. It is apparently more economic to replace the cars once they need MOTs than to keep them running up to MOT standard. Oh and BTW my first year's insurance was £360, you might be luckier, I was a new driver and that counts against you even if you are over 50 as I was.
san_valentine
21st Mar, 2010 02:56 (UTC)
Oh yes, I'm planning to go with the rental option. (I may have worded the sentence about it in the post rather confusingly).

I've been doing the online Theory tests that are available and have passed all of the ones I've tried. My instructor gave me a sheet with test questions to try at home. I tried them on a friend who's been driving for years and he boggled at some of them. There were a couple of signs that neither of us had ever actually seen.
linda_joyce
21st Mar, 2010 09:10 (UTC)
I was working at the branch that was home base for our two mobiles when I was studying for my first theory and the drivers got interested in what I was doing. They both tried the on line theory tests too and both failed. There was one sign that none of us new (and that includes the three home delivery staff too)an all blue circle with a number in it. Turns out it's a minimum speed limit. It is amazing what is not in the Highway code or as I should say, what we just don't see in the Highway Code as it was in there.
linda_joyce
20th Mar, 2010 19:12 (UTC)
PS
Rather than study the Highway Code, it hasn't changed much since I studied it my first time round, try to get hold of a book called The Theory Test from your local library or go on line and try and find a free practice session live on line. The questions in the theory test are slanted towards today's conditions and state of the roads. I passed easily both times I took it just from a glance through the Highway Code and common sense. Oh and BTW the reason I had to take it twice was that it took me 4 years to pass my practical test and the pass only lasts 2 years. Those examiners are terrifying to me at least.
linda_joyce
20th Mar, 2010 19:13 (UTC)
PPS
Trust me to forget the first thing I thought of. Go you as they say in the USA. Getting back in the saddle is very hard to do but you don't usually take as long to learn again as you do the first time round.
vilakins
20th Mar, 2010 22:44 (UTC)
!!! I am so impressed with the UK's welfare system.
san_valentine
21st Mar, 2010 03:03 (UTC)
I had an email recently from an American friend. Her husband's bi-polar so she's the only one working. She pays $600 per month to her health scheme, which dictates which doctor and hospital you can use. A visit to the doctor costs $30. If you want a specialist, you have to get approval, then hope you can get an appointment with one of their approved specialists within a set timeframe. If the timeframe expires before you can see the specialist, the insurance doesn't pay out.
When her husband had to go to hospital with a severe lung infaction, she had to write a cheque for $1100 before they would admit him.

It's a truly shocking state of affairs.
vilakins
21st Mar, 2010 05:00 (UTC)
We used to have a wonderful system, but the economy isn't good enough to support it. I recently found that I might be able to get an operation free though, which would probably cure one of my conditions.
san_valentine
21st Mar, 2010 14:24 (UTC)
Good news - I hope that works out for you.
vilakins
22nd Mar, 2010 05:56 (UTC)
Yeah. Given that I've been knocked back for other medical procedures because of being rubbish, I shouldn't really hope for anything.
longrat
21st Mar, 2010 21:15 (UTC)
CAR!!! Yay!!! :)
littlejenny123
22nd Mar, 2010 15:40 (UTC)
Yay for being able to get around in car!

I'll be pestering you for lifts though ;-). Paying for taxis on my benefits is almost impossible :-(.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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