Joe is 20 years-old and lives in Poole, Dorset. He's decided to let us in on his experience of learning to drive, and promises to tell us exactly what happens when he takes his test; minors, majors and everything.
Even a magic potion couldn't help Joe pass his driving test on the third attempt. The latest failure has inspired him to start penning a self-help book.
Yes, I failed my test for the third time. I don't feel angry, I just feel slightly empty and numb; a kind of out-of-body experience, like the tipping point before you finally go crazy and start biting pigeons and chucking bins around the local park.
I woke up the day of the test feeling really positive. I was very calm and assured. I had also been recommended a little cure for nerves called 'Rescue Remedy', which you can buy from the chemist. It's herbal and claims to 'Assist the return to a more positive outlook when you need comfort and reassurance.' It seemed like the perfect tonic to provide support at times of emotional demand, such as my driving test. But how does it work? If I rub the bottle will a genie puff out and give me cuddles and compliment me? I was reluctant to rely on a potion to help me relax, but I was so desperate to pass the test that I'd take almost anything. I put four droplets of it on my tongue and it did help a little bit, I think. It's hard to tell because the only noticeable sign was a tingling and warm sensation in my arms. I don't know whether I'd recommend it, but it's worth a try.
Here are some tips for failing that I've taken from my self-help book: 'How to avoid passing your driving test':
Tip one: Develop a driving OCD. Do the same thing wrong, over and over again. Pick something dangerous to do on the road and repeat it. As well as guaranteeing failure, it will also annoy your examiner, instructor, and family.
Example: Find a one-way system and forget that there are two lanes to drive in. Whoops! Don't be too blatant though; make sure it looks like a genuine mistake. When you're entering the system wait until two cars are signalling to turn off and a red car is driving behind them in the other lane. Pull out quickly in front of the red car and your instructor will look over their shoulder nervously; you've already got them rattled. Pretend that you don't know what they're getting anxious about and this will annoy them even more.
"Running a car is so expensive these days and rising oil prices are just rubbing salt into gaping wounds, but I can't stop now."
Tip two: Hog a wide road and make the other drivers panic because you're being indecisive by flicking your indicator in the opposite direction that you're travelling in.
Example: When a road splits into three lanes before a set of traffic lights, don't decide which lane you're going to take until the very last minute. If this can be achieved in a small car like a Fiat Punto then you've got it cracked. If you can manage to hold up something like a rubbish disposal van then you'll annoy the drivers in other cars behind you. You may even cause it to spill some foul-smelling litter. The sluggish handling of such a vehicle will also result in scaring your instructor, which should result in an extra minor.
Tip three: Don't give yourself a big budget. By not having much money you'll raise the stakes for each test, increasing the pressure, raising nervous levels and thus achieving maximum error potential. There is also the added bonus of making it more emotional and frustrating every time you fail.
I'm finding all of this quite hard to take. OK, I may have slightly exaggerated my mistakes, but in my opinion it wasn't seriously dangerous driving. My instructor told me that a girl was failed at the same test centre for brushing the kerb when she pulled in to finish her test. How is that dangerous? Bournemouth, where I took my test, has a 60% fail rate for first timers, which seems very low.
It's all a massive learning curve for me. I'm not used to failing this much. I shouldn't let it get to me because in the grand scheme of things it's trivial, but I feel slightly embarrassed and totally defeated. My aim was to have passed before I graduated. I've finished university now and I don't have enough money to carry on the driving. I'll have to wait until I get a job to pay for more lessons.
I find myself questioning whether it's all worth it. Running a car is so expensive these days and rising oil prices are just rubbing salt into gaping wounds, but I can't stop now. I've spent roughly £1,000 so far and it would be such a waste to give it up. I would also have to retake my theory test if I don't pass in the next two years. This whole experience has taught me to love my bike again. Nobody sits next to you judging your cycling. There are no expensive tests or lessons, no nerves and no crippling disappointments. I love you bikey! I'm so sorry I said all those bad things about you in my first entry. Please take me back.