Recorder takes on hardest driving test route in the country – will we pass in Wanstead?
PUBLISHED: 12:38 22 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:38 22 February 2017
She did her driving test in Wanstead first time round, but now that it has been named the hardest area in the UK can reporter
Ellena Cruse pass again 10 years later?
I don’t like to toot my own horn but I am a damn good driver.
From off road jeeping to up–hill parallel parking I have clocked up more than 10 years of no claims.
I originally did my test in Wanstead, so when it was revealed that the area was the hardest place to pass, I was revved up for the challenge of seeing if I could pass again. Rev with Bev driving school has helped thousands of wanabee drivers take to the road.
Beverly ‘Bev’ Darrah, has 18 years of experience under her belt and has mirrored, signalled and maneuvered with the best of them. As she pulled up in her gleaming pillar box red Ford Fiesta I couldn’t wait to sit in the driving seat.
We slip along the back roads off Wanstead High Street and already it starts to feels like a trip down memory lane.
I had forgotten how many hours I spent there perfecting reversing round a corner – I genuinely used to hate one particular road for a long time afterwards.
“I think it has got harder to pass in the last 10 years,” says Bev, inbetween telling me to signal right then take a sharp left.
“You know if you can pass in Wanstead you are a good driver, you can feel quite proud of yourself. It is hard to pass but easy to fail.”
A little red hopper bus lets me out at a junction and I raise my hand to thank him.
“You would have failed for that,” Bev says.
“You must always keep your hands on the steering wheel.”
The phrase “it doesn’t cost anything to say thank you” flashed through my head but clearly when it comes to getting a licence every rule has an exception.
I am directed up the A406 and Bev explains Wanstead is such a hard test patch because you have to contend with complicated roundabouts such as Charlie Brown’s and Waterworks Corner.
“Nowadays on a test you are also asked to drive to a location just by using road signs,” Bev adds. “On Waterworks Corner the signs come up at the last minute and it can be difficult to change lane, especially in a test situation. I make sure my learners have an idea of where places are and how they connect.”
We weave back through South Woodford, and eventually came to a set of red traffic lights.
“You are too close to the car in front,” exclaims Bev.
“Tyres and tarmac , tyres and tarmac you need to see both.”
I could see the number plate of the car in front but heeding Bev’s memorable warning at the next stopping point I left enough room for a Smart car to nestle in.
While no one appreciates some one driving up their rear, the gap required under test conditions felt ridiculously big and unnatural, especially on London roads.
“If you fail to prepare be prepared to fail,” adds Bev,
“Learning to drive is an expensive hobby and people are keen to do it quickly, but it costs more in resits if you do it too early, you have to trust in your instructor”
I might not have passed my mock test for saying thank you (sorry not sorry), and being too close, but I surprisingly feel ok about it all. Driving in real life has equipped me with so many skills and goes way beyond the sterile conditions of a exam. Getting a license is a gateway to the road, but staying on it safely and considerately is the real test .
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