Post by Marland
Though during WW2 driving tests were
suspended for civilians as well and many people took advantage that a
driving permit or provisional licence issued could for a short time
afterwards be converted to a full licence without any further test.
Explains a lot of the dire driving standards encountered from that
generation over the following decades especially when they became elderly
know it alls ,at least those reaching those years now will normally have
passed a test at some time.
I didn't know that the civilian driving test was suspended during WWII -
presumably to free up examiners to do war work, and to remove all the
bureaucracy of administering the tests. However very few civilians would
have been able to get petrol unless they were in a reserved occupation.
Apart from the WWII window of opportunity, the youngest person who has not
passed a test would have been 17 in 1935, so they'd be born in 1918 and
therefore 101 now. And the youngest person who would have slipped through
the WWII window would have been 17 in 1945 and therefore 91. Assuming that
the age of starting to drive was 17 in those days as well.
I think a lot of the problem with driving standards is not due to lack of
test, but to bravado and overconfidence (mainly in the young), or being
completely oblivious of surroundings and car controls (mainly in the
elderly) - in both cases, I'm making very broad-brush generalisations.
Intoxication and falling asleep at the wheel probably applies to most ages.
As I understand it, a lot of the cases of drivers (usually elderly) who
accidentally drive/reverse into shop fronts is because they confuse the
accelerator and brake in an automatic car, and then press the accelerator
instead of the brake when they realise they are out of control.
My grandpa was still driving right up until he died (*) when he was in his
mid 90s. He was very choosy about when/where he drove - out of rush hour, on
rural roads rather than busy urban roads. The last time I rode with him, I
was impressed with his standard of driving: he didn't cut corners when
pulling out from side roads, he got up to nearly the speed limit without too
much dawdling, he was cautious but not hesitant at junctions. The only
"funny" was that he had a habit of slipping the car into neutral and
coasting as he was approaching a junction or when going downhill, which I
think was a carry-over from wartime petrol rationing days as a fuel-saving
measure. Nowadays with fuel injection it would actually work against you: if
you stay in gear, the ECU detects that the car is in over-run and cuts the
fuel completely, whereas in neutral a bit of fuel is needed to keep the
engine idling. The instantaneous fuel consumption display on my car's trip
computer shows this: when coasting in neutral, the consumption is about 200
mpg, whereas in gear with no throttle it is 999 ("infinite") mpg.
(*) And that was complications from a fall when he was shopping, not in a
car crash ;-)