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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:27   #91
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

Risk Education. Part 2!

With lessons flying past me left and right, J informed me that it was time to book a time for the second and final part of my “Risk Education”.

“Risk 2” as this session is known, spans for about 4 hours and is a comprehensive, hands-on, driving-in-adverse-conditions “experience”.

Winters can get pretty bad up here in Scandinavia and it is imperative that drivers know their own limits as well as the limits of their vehicle. But making all drivers learn in the winter wouldn’t make sense.

Instead, there are a handful of halkbanas (translated literally: slippery tracks) across Sweden. Halkbanas are huge and look a lot like car testing grounds - with one difference: a major part of the halkbana comprises of plastic surfaces. On these surfaces sit an array of water sprinklers. This forms, quite possibly, the most slippery surface known to man (*not scientifically proven).

Getting a time at the halkbana is tough. They’re always fully booked and they only take 20 or so students in at a given time. With a little luck I managed to get a 13:00 to 17:00 slot in early October.

The days leading up to *the* day saw me getting advice/tips/threats from everyone I knew.

'It’s super fan man, go have a blast!'

'You can’t actually fail Risk 2. Unless you don’t follow their instructions. Make sure you do *everything* they say.'

'It was nerve wrecking. A friend of a friend managed to steer her car into a wall.'

Needless to say, I was amped!


The Day

One neverending bus journey later, I was at Stora Holm - the halkbana.

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All the students (20-ish) of the day were instructed to assemble for quick low down on the procedures of the day.

We would be separated into groups of 10. Each group would then head to separate areas of the halkbana and then do half of the maneuvers. Each maneuver would be attempted at least thrice.There would then be a half-time assembly and a tour of a hall with several artefacts and activities. Then we would return to the cars and do the other half of the maneuvers. Each maneuver would be followed up by a small group discussion.

After the instructions, there was quick 20 minute recap of the theory we had learnt from part 1 of the risk education.

Then we were finally given the go ahead. It was time to drive!

As we stepped out, we were whisked away by foot to section of the track where we were met by a line spanking new Volvo C30s! This was like Christmas!

Each student would be driving their car individually. This would be the first time any of us would be driving alone. Quite exciting! Each car was numbered and set up with a walkie talkie, which in turn was connected to a ATC type of tower from where we would be instructed.

As I stepped into my car, I was psyched. The C30 was completely kitted out. A 2.0 diesel (136 HP, 320 NM) and a 6-speed manual would be giving me company for the first half of Risk 2. A quick adjustment to the climate control system and I was set.

The walkie talkie creaked into action and instructions burst out at us. This was it.


Moment 1

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The first event was performing the world famous, moose test! The goal of this exercise was to gain an understanding of the dynamics and risks involved when performing sudden maneuvers at high speeds, on ice.

As our line of C30s snaked their way to the start line we were briefed on the procedure of Moment 1:
  • Accelerate from the start line to the instructed speed.
  • Maintain this speed till you reach the braking spot (indicated by 2 red cones)
  • SLAM the brakes and try stop before the first obstacle.
  • If this isn’t possible, maneuver past it.

When my first attempt came up, I was instructed to perform the maneuver at 60km/h. The C30 responded briskly and I was up to 60 in no time. With a fair distance to the braking point I seemed to have inadvertently accelerate up to 70 or so. A quick message on the walkie talkie told me slow down - they were monitoring our speeds with a radar.

The red cones came up. I slammed the brake pedal down. The car shuddered. ABS kicked in. Lights were flashing. This was like when I had practiced emergency braking with J. Except the car was showing no signs of stopping! :O

With the first obstacle fast approaching I impulsively steered left. Hard. The C30 responded. The tail went out. The edge of obstacle was clipped. I was now moving at 30 km/h. Sideways. Into obstacle 2. Finally, the C30 came to a standstill.

I had managed to clip 2 out of 3 obstacles. The car had done a 180 degree turn and I was now facing the wrong direction.

'Good attempt 18 (my car number). Try avoiding the obstacles next time!'

Good thing the guys had a sense of humour. The next attempt was at 70 km/h. The third and final attempt was at 90. Attempts two and three were better but no one in our group could manage a clean run. Next up was moment 2!


Moment 2

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Event two was somewhat easier. The goal being to correctly estimate distances to obstacles on a slippery surface at varying speeds. Like event 1, the procedure was to:
  • Accelerate from the start line to the instructed speed.
  • Maintain this speed till you reach the braking spot (indicated by 2 red cones)
  • SLAM the brakes and try stop before the first obstacle.
  • If this isn’t possible, maneuver past it.

Equipped with the wisdom and knowledge from the first event this event went smoothly. I was able to avoid the obstacle two out of three times and I felt like I was in control of the vehicle. Confidence was building.


Moment 3

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Event 3 was all about braking. The aim of this event was to gain a clear understanding of how the braking distance is affected by reaction time + slippery conditions.

The event involved:
  • Accelerate from the start line to the instructed speed.
  • Maintain this speed till you reach the braking spot (indicated by 2 red cones)
  • SLAM the brakes, bringing the car to a halt as soon as possible.

It was interesting to note length of the braking distance - especially at 90km/h. The car just slid on and on and on! Also, keeping the car in a straight line when braking from high speeds on ice is much harder than one would assume. Fair bit of wrestling with the wheel.


With three of the events completed it was time to park this cars and troop inside for a small break and the tour of the activity hall.

An instructor emerged and the tour began.

First up was a stuffed, life size, moose. Known to pop onto Swedish roads at any given time these creatures are *huge*. It’s hard to comprehend just how large these guys are until you actually see one. Weighing anywhere between 300-600 kgs, moose really leave an impact when collided with.

(More on moose collisions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose#Vehicle_collisions)

The tour continued and soon were introduced to a smaller activity: experiencing a low speed crash. The idea here was to convince students that *even* low speeds are dangerous. To demonstrate there was drivers seat + seat belt, mounted with wheels on an inclined track. At the end of the track was a stopper, which brought the moving seat to standstill. Each student got a go, and I’ve got to say the jolt was large. The speeds were ridiculously low - 20 km/h or so. But the impact was hard.

We proceed past more such objects and the instructor would stop, explain and ask for questions. We were then showed the remains of a car that had collided with a railing and done a 180-degree flip and then landed on it’s roof. The car was mangled.

A few facts and examples later we checked out the final activity: a car mounted on a stand so that it could flip onto it’s roof. Each student was then asked to sit in the car, belt up, and then experience being flipped over. It was very uncomfortable - to say the least. Definitely not a situation you want to find yourself in, in real life.



With tour out of the way, it was time for the second and final session of maneuvers. We trooped over to another part of Stora Holm and there we were met with another line of C30s. This time however there was one lone V50, and being me I leaped to it.

Befriending my new companion (a D5: 180 HP, 400 NM!!) I set off.


Moment 4

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Keeping the car in a straight line when braking was hard enough. Now we were instructed to make sure the car remained in it’s lane through a bend as we braked from high speeds! The aim of this event was adaptation of speed - we were allowed to perform this maneuver at any speed we saw fit for the occasion - the minimum being 70 km/h.

The procedure was:
  • Accelerate from the start line to the instructed speed.
  • Maintain this speed till you reach the braking spot (indicated by 2 red cones)
  • SLAM the brakes, bringing the car to a halt as soon as possible while remaining in your lane through the bend.

This was one tricky maneuver I’ll tell you that. My first attempt saw me sliding out of control as I optimistically entered the bend at 90 km/h! A more sensible second attempt 75-ish saw success. My third attempt - I was back at 90. I really wanted to nail it. Sweaty palms, shuddering car, and a lot of wrestling later I had done it. Just. The car had come to a halt, in it’s lane, millimeters away from the obstacle.


Moment 5

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This was the final event of the day. And by far the best. It was like a reward!

The aim being to experience sliding around, understand how the traction control system compensates, and try to learn how to slide in a controlled manner. Yeah!

The procedure was:
  • Approach with low speed.
  • At the given point, accelerate heavily - making the car slide.
  • Try to control the slide (so it does a full drift around the roundabout!) and regain control.

I was super excited.

I rolled in the V50 through the approach doing a lazy 30 km/h in second. At the cone, I mashed the A-pedal while twisting the wheel ever so slightly. Taking a second or two to react, the V50 then lurched forward (400NM!!) and lost traction, well, immediately. Lights started flashing and as the tail started coming around I dumped the clutch. Regaining some composure the V50 continued sliding peacefully. To maintain the “drift” the throttle was dabbed. The V50 continued what was quite possibly the ugliest drift ever known to man. Luckily nobody was filming. With the exit in sight, the clutch was dumped again, and the V50 crawled out of the roundabout.

'Good stuff car 18!' creaked the walkie talkie.

I was ecstatic!

The same was done three more times - each time somewhat more elegant than the previous. But soon it was time to pack up. Reluctantly, I parked the V50.


Saying it’d been a great day would be an understatement. It was an exciting, fun, important and very fulfilling experience.

With both my risk education sessions now complete, I walked off into the sunset... tomorrow I’d be driving with J again!

All photos/illustrations are from: storaholm
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:31   #92
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

The Motorväg

Mid-october and I was finally on the motorväg. This would be the last phase of my drivers education.

My first taste of highway driving however, left me with my spirits dampened.

‘Today we head out onto the motorväg!’ exclaimed J that evening.

10 minutes later, we were indeed on the motorway. Except that we weren’t actually moving.

Traffic doesn’t get too bad around here but it felt like every motorist in Sweden had gathered that day to celebrate my first step into the world of high speed travel. By letting me drive as slowly as possible. (Pro tip: always avoid booking a driving lesson in hours of peak traffic)

Most of that lesson was spent in 1st gear, crawling but in the coming days we actually ‘drove’ on the motorväg.

Although I had driven at 90 km/h several times before breaking the magical ton was a special moment.

Crackling on at a brisk pace of 110-ish km/h I was introduced my one major issue with motorway driving. Turning my head and looking back for vehicles in the blind spot when overtaking.

To the seasoned driver, this may sound trivial. But for a teenage learner this was a little uncomfortable. I mean, you stop looking at what’s in front of you for a good two or three seconds, and when travelling at 110 km/h... you guys know what I mean.

To counter this I sort of started ‘fake checking’ the blind spot. I’d check my RVM, then my ORVM, then indicate, then quickly turn my head (but not really look at anything) and then move into the fast lane.

J however, experienced as he was, knew I wasn’t actually looking. And he’d have none of it. Forced into checking I did. But this led to another problem. A very common one amongst new learners, J confessed.

When checking for the blind spot, I intuitively also steered the car (ever so slightly, but still enough to move it out of it’s lane) in that direction (i.e sideways).

Doing this however, would lead to instant failure on the drivers test. And so we practiced. And practiced. At least 3 lessons were spent with solid chunks of highway driving. Confidence was built quickly though, and soon enough I was changing lanes to J’s satisfaction.

J signed off the whole motorväg portion of my education with these words of wisdom:

‘If you ever see a hill with a truck climbing it, get on the fast lane immediately. You NEVER want to be stuck behind a slow truck on a hill.’

He later revealed the why these words were important. Trucks are heavy. They slow down when climbing hills. Sometimes down to 40 km/h. If you end up slowing down behind one these and then decide you want to overtake, you need to get onto the fast lane. Getting onto the fast when you’re doing very slow speeds is incredibly risky. Other cars in the lane won’t expect it, and there’s a fair chance you’ll get rear ended. Badly.

‘ALWAYS scan the road. Look far, far ahead.’ J ended.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:34   #93
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

Pre-Drive Checks

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Mid-October. I have my theory and driving test coming up in less than two weeks. Booking was simple - a few clicks on the transport authorities website and I was done.

Incidentally the dates of the tests coincided with the dates of my exams from my first term at college. Due priority was given... to my license. Hehe.

My ‘last’ driving lesson (not last if I fail the tests and need more practice) went well. J was pleased.

‘You’ve done well Aneesh. Just keep your head straight and you might be driving on your own next week!’ he said towards the end of the lesson.

I was over the moon. This was it.

With 20 minutes or so left to spare of the lesson, J instructed me to pull into a parking lot.

‘On your drivers test they always ask you to perform two safety checks. You’ve read about them in your book, but I think it’s important you practice once. It isn’t uncommon to fail because you don’t know how to perform these checks.’


The Pre-Drive Checks:

Lights

Check the:
  • parking lights
  • half beams
  • full beams
  • reverse lights
  • blinkers
  • brake lights
(During the test you are expected to ask the examiner to step out and confirm that all these lights function as you switch through them.)


Tires

Check the:
  • Depth of the treads - they must be within the legal limits (1.6 mm for summer tires and 3 mm for winter tires).
  • General condition of the tire. Are the sidewalls damaged?
  • Wearing out. Has the tire worn out evenly?


Steering

Feel for:
  • Play. Stand outside your car with the window rolled down. Reach in and start turning the steering wheel slightly. Are the front wheels also turning? Or is there a lot of play?
  • The power steering. With the engine running, turn the steering wheel from end to end. If your servo system is functioning properly you should be able to do this with same effort throughout your turn.


Brakes

Check the brakes by:
  • Pushing the brake pedal down hard (with the engine off). Keep it pushed down. The brake pedal should travel approx. half way down and stop. It should feel ‘solid’. It should NOT a) continue to slowly sink all the way down or b) feel ‘spongy’. If it does sink all the way down you have a leakage. If it feels ‘spongy’ you’ve got air trapped in the system. Any of these two scenarios = immediate repair.
  • The parking brake is tested by engaging it and slowly trying to creep your car forward. As soon as you feel resistance, you know your parking brake is in order.


Other

It is also expected that you test the:
  • Horn
  • Wipers and washers (front, rear and headlight wipers (if available))


And so, with that my set of 30 lessons came to a close.

I thanked J profusely and he wished me the best of luck.

‘Hope you don’t come back here!’ he winked as I handed over a box of chocolates (aptly named Merci).

‘I want these back if I fail!’
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:42   #94
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

The Theory Test

This is largely what I was up against. 600+ pages of rules, facts, signs, situations, smaller calculations and percentages.

The Swedish Driving License - My Experience-theory.jpg

To aid the preparation process driving schools strongly recommended that every student uses one of these:

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The program simulates a car driving around a variety of situations. The car encounters a variety of signs/situations/problems and the the simulation stops and poses a question to the user.

Armed with energy drink ( ) I set off on a journey of knowledge. Thanks to J’s habit of always ensuring my evenings were spent poring over one of the books trying to answer his homework questions, I made rapid progress.

---

Day of test. Exam in an hour or so. One tram ride (I still don’t have my license!) later and I was at the testing center. A fairly formidable looking structure of bricks.

One flight of stairs and I was met with a waiting room. 30 off the most tired, nerve-wrecked faces were seen. My fellow test takers. EVERYONE was doing some sort of last minute revision, so I joined in, taking my now well-used pamphlet on road signs out.

In a few minutes we were summoned to the computer room where the test would take place.

Quick ID check. Allotment of computer. Wait. And then the go-ahead.

‘You may begin!’

The test comprises of 70 questions. Correct answer = 1 point. 5 of the 70 questions are samplers for data evaluation and you don’t get any points for them. Essentially: to pass the exam, you need to score 52/65.

Every question is multiple choice. Typically with 3 or 4 options. Some question have several right answers and to get your point you need select all the correct options. The duration of the exam is 50 minutes. Below is an example of a typical question:

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Fast forward 45 minutes or so and I was ready. I had answered all the questions. I felt good. Confident. With a swift move of the mouse, I hit submit. One second later:

“You scored 61/65.”

I had done it. I was now just one test away from driving. And it was the big daddy. The drivers test. The notorious, fail-for-the-slightest-mistake drivers test.

I fist pumped/Usain Bolt posed my way back home, on the tram, into the sunset. Tomorrow I may be driving!
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:48   #95
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

D-Day

***
‘They always take you through that one roundabout in Mölndal. You know, that super complicated one!’

‘Just make sure you always stay below the speed limit. Like 10 km/h below.’

‘They failed me because it was raining and I drove through a puddle at 50 km/h. They said that *if* someone was there they *may* have been splashed.’

‘Don’t smile too much, you’ll look cocky!’

‘Overdo all the stuff you’d usually do. Make it clear you’re looking in the mirrors - don’t just glance.’

‘Relax. They’ll make you drive for like an hour. Just be cool.’

***

Asking friends for advice only left me more confused. The next stop was checking out one of the many Swedish Driving License forums online. Yes. There are many, and they’re full of success/failure stories, tips/tricks and questions.

I cannot stress this enough - for a teen, getting your drivers license in Sweden is an achievement. Something most have been working on since they were 16. Many save, some do occasional odd jobs and some rock a summer job or two. It is symbolic. It’s almost like giving closure to your childhood. Progressing into one of those people who drive. Moving. Being independent.

The forums were tiring. Depressing even. Statistics revealed that less than 50% passed their test at my test center in 2009. The prospects weren’t very bright.

***

Morning.

I’m at the test center. I’ve had my photo taken (absolutely horrible photo *cringe*) and I’m due to drive in a few minutes.

I am lost in thought - trying to recollect some obscure detail from one of J’s many lessons.

‘Aneesh!’

A lady, perhaps in her mid-50s was calling out at me. She looked tired. Stern. And not very forgiving.

She was my examiner.

I got up and we shook hands. We walked down to the car, and the atmosphere was thick with nervous silence.

My examiner sensed this.

‘So what car have you been practicing in?’

‘Err, a Volvo S40 - diesel. But very linear, almost petrol like in nature.’

I couldn’t help it. I like cars!

She smiled.

‘Well you’re in luck. We’re driving a Volvo V50 today. Petrol!’

I was chuffed. I liked driving the S40/V50. I was comfortable with them and since I had practiced rather extensively in the S40.

We reached the car. A faint green-metallic V50. Sporting a 2.0L flexifuel motor this cat would purr. Supremely smooth and easy to tame, maybe things weren’t so bad after all.

I took off my coat and put it in the back seat. She handed me the key.

‘The test begins now. I want you to first check if the tires are ok and if the lights are in order.’

My mind raced back to J’s lesson on safety checks. ‘I’ve got this!’ I thought to myself.

The tires were fine. But we’d have to change them soon as winter would be upon us, I reminded my examiner. She didn’t say anything but made a note on her sheet.

The lights were next. As per J’s instructions I asked my examiner to confirm the brake lights were working. Check.

We got back into the car. Adjusting my seat, the wheel and the mirrors I settled in. Then I put my belt on.

‘Ready?’

‘Yes.’ I half-smiled nervously.

Foot on the brake, clutch pedal mashed, I turned the key. The engine awakened. The refined sound of a petrol engine was a welcome change.

I was instructed to drive to a nearby landmark, following the local directional signs.

The most nerve wracking moment was upon me and would be over in a flash. Getting the car to move for the first time. The last thing I wanted was to stall the car. The V50 responded briskly. Me and the motor were in sync. We were off.

Confidence grew. With every meter driven, I felt good. This *is* what I love doing. This *is* me.

Half-way to the landmark (and ~5 minutes into my drive) my examiner made an announcement.

‘Okay, change of plan. There’s a parking house coming up to your left. Turn in and park wherever you want.’

I entered the parking house. Creeping in, my mind quickly recced the area. There were a bunch of open slots at the end of the lot and a few in the beginning.

If I chose one of the free, open slots would she think I wasn’t confident? Most probably. Not happening. I’m taking a tough one.

Luckily I nailed it. Equidistant to the cars on either side of us and neatly tucked in. I looked at the examiner for signs of appreciation - but nada, just furious note taking.

‘Okay, reverse out and join the E6 towards Malmö.’

Motorväg time. The V50 was surprisingly responsive. Through the acceleration lane in a blitz and onto the motorway.

I settled down at cruising speed, up in 6th gear (ECO-driving, remember?). Within seconds I was met with a hill of epic proportions. And a truck gearing down for what would be a long slow climb.

J’s words of wisdom struck again.

Downshifting to 5th, I passed the truck, and then settled into the slow lane again.

‘Next exit, off the motorväg.’

Indicating well in advance we were off the motorway and in a smallish residential neighborhood.

Within minutes, I was asked to stop at a deserted corner.

It was time for the infamous ‘reverse-around-the-corner’ - every examiners favourite.

Staying calm, I completed the maneuver. Reasonably well, if I may say so myself. Again, the examiner didn’t show any signs of appreciation. Or disapproval.

If anything, the lack feedback was most unnerving.

‘Alright, follow the signs back to Mölndal. To the test center.’

15 or so minutes of somewhat-rural-but-not-really + city driving later and we were pulling into the parking lot of the test center. The V50 had done well. I was tasting victory.

Now all I needed to do was park the car. The last hurrah.

Disaster.

Call it lack of concentration or just sheer excitement, but I’d messed up. The car was in the slot, no doubt. But it wasn’t centered. Or very straight.

‘Have you completed the parking maneuver?’ asked the examiner. Again, she didn’t indicate that my parking maneuver was bad. Or good.

Everything had gone well upto this point. I was furious. With everything. Myself mostly.

‘No...’ I uttered.

I reversed the car out of the slot, all the way out, in an attempt restart my parking maneuver from scratch and salvage my clean run.

‘Don’t you think you could have corrected the parking in the slot itself? Was it necessary to reverse the car out completely?’

Sigh.

‘I... err... I... I wanted to show you...’

‘It’s ok, continue.’

Summoning all the gods of driving I eased off, this time parking the V50 properly. I engaged the parking brake. I turned her off. And removed my seatbelt.

The examiner was keying in something into her tablet.
Silence.

Thick, heavy, glorious, silence.

A minute or so later (a very long minute, mind you) the silence was broken.

‘You have passed!’
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Old 23rd January 2013, 04:51   #96
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Concluding Notes:

1) Sorry. Honestly. This write up is looooooong overdue. Excuses are pointless so I’ll spare you the trouble of reading any.

2) All the events in took place between June and October of 2010. I have now been driving for more than two years and I have truly loved every moment.

3) The contents of this write up involve perhaps only a fraction of the things I learned. This is by no-means a complete guide.

4) I’m back! I’ve been on a longish hiatus off Team BHP but I’m back now. Looking forward to contributing and learning!

5) If you've read through all of this, thank you! It was a long, expensive and emotional journey - but a fruitful one.

Last edited by anekho : 23rd January 2013 at 12:30.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 12:44   #97
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

Thread moved from Assembly Line to Street Experiences section.

I admit I was rivetted to this thread from the very beginning and when the tester announced that you had passed, gave a small "Yesss...!!" myself

Excellent thread and a must-read for all of us who thinks we are the cat's whiskers at driving. If every person with a license has to go through that in Scandinavia, I can only imagine what level their average driver's skills are at!
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Old 23rd January 2013, 13:49   #98
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

What an excellent writeup!!
I only wish they teach us a fraction of this in India before granting the license !! Those morons in Kolkata grants license even without moving the car an inch.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 15:32   #99
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Default Re: The Swedish Driving License - My Experience

Quote:
Those morons in Kolkata grants license even without moving the car an inch.
And, frankly, the Swedish experience makes the British driving test look like light entertainment, and I failed one of those.

I bow my head to the ground, vaguely in the direction of Sweden, and acknowledge that anyone who has gone through this course, passed the test, and then added experience is ...a maha guru of driving. Namaskaram, Swedish drivers!

anekho, many, many thanks for taking the huge amount of trouble to document and tell your story. It has been a fantastic read, and an absolute eye opener. I was spellbound by the storytelling, and humbled, as a driver, by the stuff you have learnt to do before even getting a licence.

OK, Sweden has weather, like, real weather, and unlike the UK, it can't let the possible week or two a year (happening right now actually) of snow grind it to a halt, but, really, there's lessons to be learnt by most of the world there. Why, for instance, do we not get simple skid practice (err, not that one is supposed to skid) as part of UK learning. I don't know, it's been a while: maybe things are tougher there now, I didn't even have to take a theory test.

I don't know what other countries might compare, but Sweden, by your account, seems to be right up there among the world leaders, in the facilities, the equipment, and just plain attitudes to driving instruction.

I learnt to drive, in UK, three times. After teenage lessons from my father (some of the best of my life) I had to take a break when I left home: no available car and no money for lessons. Quite a few years later (and with extra practice and lessons from a small plumpy lady who would blow some gender assumptions; she, for instance, had done the skid-rink stuff!) I blew the test through nerves. Yes, I found my left leg shaking, stalled on that all-important start, and somehow never pulled myself back together. No car, no more money, for quite a few years more . The British driving test, as I took it, is half an hour of following specific directions and performing specific manoeuvres. If we had had to actually find our own way somewhere, we would have freaked! And when we finally get that pass slip, our first solo drive feels like something we are absolutely unprepared for: almost like it's the first real lesson.

Anyway, tons of respect. You know stuff about driving that I never dreamt of. I guess you never dreamt of it either before Sweden!
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Old 23rd January 2013, 17:38   #100
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I admit I was rivetted to this thread from the very beginning and when the tester announced that you had passed, gave a small "Yesss...!!" myself
Thank you noopster, glad I had you glued!

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What an excellent writeup!!
Thank you archat!

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And, frankly, the Swedish experience makes the British driving test look like light entertainment, and I failed one of those.

I bow my head to the ground, vaguely in the direction of Sweden, and acknowledge that anyone who has gone through this course, passed the test, and then added experience is ...a maha guru of driving. Namaskaram, Swedish drivers!

anekho, many, many thanks for taking the huge amount of trouble to document and tell your story. It has been a fantastic read, and an absolute eye opener. I was spellbound by the storytelling, and humbled, as a driver, by the stuff you have learnt to do before even getting a licence.

OK, Sweden has weather, like, real weather, and unlike the UK, it can't let the possible week or two a year (happening right now actually) of snow grind it to a halt, but, really, there's lessons to be learnt by most of the world there. Why, for instance, do we not get simple skid practice (err, not that one is supposed to skid) as part of UK learning. I don't know, it's been a while: maybe things are tougher there now, I didn't even have to take a theory test.

I don't know what other countries might compare, but Sweden, by your account, seems to be right up there among the world leaders, in the facilities, the equipment, and just plain attitudes to driving instruction.

I learnt to drive, in UK, three times. After teenage lessons from my father (some of the best of my life) I had to take a break when I left home: no available car and no money for lessons. Quite a few years later (and with extra practice and lessons from a small plumpy lady who would blow some gender assumptions; she, for instance, had done the skid-rink stuff!) I blew the test through nerves. Yes, I found my left leg shaking, stalled on that all-important start, and somehow never pulled myself back together. No car, no more money, for quite a few years more . The British driving test, as I took it, is half an hour of following specific directions and performing specific manoeuvres. If we had had to actually find our own way somewhere, we would have freaked! And when we finally get that pass slip, our first solo drive feels like something we are absolutely unprepared for: almost like it's the first real lesson.

Anyway, tons of respect. You know stuff about driving that I never dreamt of. I guess you never dreamt of it either before Sweden!
Thad, honestly, your words are far, far too kind! Thank you.

Getting the pass slip was a very special moment. I carried the slip around with me, flaunting it whenever and wherever possible for a good week or so until my real license was delivered! My first solo drive was immediately after my test, and frankly, felt very odd. I guess I was missing J!

From what I gather halkbanas are a very Scandinavian thing - it does seem odd however that countries that deal with winter for fairly long periods don't use them for driver training!

Oh and, namaskarams to you too!
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Old 23rd January 2013, 20:00   #101
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Great stuff Aneesh! I think you should feel two feet taller for getting through this driving test! Respect!

Also, great learning for all of us reading. I live in the snow belt in the US, but I don't think I know what to do in some of the situations of risk driving that you have illustrated very well. Very useful information.
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Old 23rd January 2013, 20:15   #102
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Amazing journey you took all of us.

A lot to learn for every driver. Without L on the front and back, I am sure many readers got their lesson in driving.

I was fortunate enough to drive from Copenhagen to Stockholm via Malmö and Göteborg and it was all respect for drivers. Swedes were much more respectful than French/Italians on road.

Hope to hear more about your winter driving techniques.

All the best!
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Old 24th January 2013, 12:03   #103
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I was just recounting my experiences driving in the UK, Sweden and the USA in another forum . A poster from Canada suggested switching off the ABS because it was causing more sliding than without. Doh! Apples and oranges. He was obviously driving slower in Off mode. Don't ask how to switch ABS off, better not to post. I let him know it made his insurance void.

In the UK, papers are full of articles about how the Swedes took ice in their stride, when a light snowfall caused havoc on the M1. I've seen trailer buses brake and slowly wrap themselves around telephone poles. Thankfully icy conditions don't last long and the public transportation system is a reasonably good alternative on bad days. A Yank friend was miffed at failing the driving test. Apparently, the British forget their training after passing. I did see a crazy driver near my apartment. But then he had blue lights and a police chopper on his tail!

I drove from Harwich to Gothenburg in a Canadian spec Superbeetle with petrol fired heater (gasoline was 60 cents a gallon! ) and skidded all over the beautiful Swedish roads. Spent six months in a tiny village near Lynnkoping before driving back to London in a 500SL with snow tyres. What a difference! My friend told me his instructor hosed a part of a parking lot (no superslippery plastic then) for his ice driving training. The Swedes are bit obsessive compulsive about safety. One of our Indian blenders would spend years in their customs before being passed and allowed for sale! All the cars drive with lights on to improve their visibility to pedestrians and other drivers. Being under populated with a ZPG means they value the lives of their existing citizens very highly.

The public transport is amazing. I stood at the bus stop for Stockholm buses and read the timing: 09:27hrs. Sharp at 09:27hrs the bus appeared. Nice punctuality and great spacing, unlike the London buses which Benny Hill accused of being lonely and needing to travel in groups! Return journey was by train. Swedes supplied ball bearings and arms to both sides in WWII. The trains slid (no other word for it) noiselessly from stop to stop.

The US driving license test is a piece of cake. Go for the test in a Volvo station wagon with a child seat strapped on and they'll just sweep you through (never turn up in a blood red Ferrari!). See, they understand you are dead without a car. A Volvo rigged for responsible driving means you have an equal stake as the traffic authorities to drive safe.

A very commonly heard saying is that if you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere. Tell that to my friend from a south Indian state. He missed an exit, stopped and backed up. An uninsured Mexican driving a vegetable truck hit him from behind. Broke every bone in his body. And he was uninsured. We all pitched in and got him together. Good old Indian unity!

BTW, thanks for the memories!

Last edited by proton : 24th January 2013 at 12:07. Reason: Spelling
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Old 24th January 2013, 14:14   #104
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A very commonly heard saying is that if you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere. Tell that to my friend from a south Indian state. He missed an exit, stopped and backed up. An uninsured Mexican driving a vegetable truck hit him from behind. Broke every bone in his body. And he was uninsured. We all pitched in and got him together. Good old Indian unity!

BTW, thanks for the memories!
A good example! and well said! Sadly, same thing is happening in Germany too. People (No offence meant!) come from India thinking that they have driven in India and can drive anywhere else and sadly end up in the hospitals or send others to hospitals.

@Anekho, a hearty thanks to your dedicated efforts in penning down every bit of your experience. Was an eye opener and I request mods (@noops) please make this thread sticky so that all our members will get to know and share the knowledge with their near and dear ones that

"Driving is not a right, its a privilege".
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Old 24th January 2013, 14:25   #105
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Apparently, the British forget their training after passing.
Not only do we forget it, we consider some of it necessary only for passing the test. Ask us how many of us keep two hands on the steering wheel after leaving the test centre with a pass slip <Blush>

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A very commonly heard saying is that if you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere. Tell that to my friend from a south Indian state. He missed an exit, stopped and backed up.
maybe the saying should be if you can drive in India you should not drive anywhere else. I say that in all humility, because I hate to think what my driving on UK roads would be like now!

But let us not assume that the rest of the world has no idiots on the road. The kind of accident you mention happens on UK motorways too. The difference is that people get prosecuted for it.

Probably even Sweden has an idiot on the roads. Or maybe even two
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