I have been waiting to write about this, to tell you my story, my journey, my experience with VicRoads. For as far as I can remember, this must have been the most painful journey I have ever had – in my life! Going through labour pains with 2 children seems to trivial after what I went through to get my Victorian Driving Licence. Everything else seemed trivial compared to the stress, disappointment, frustration I went through after failing my driving test so many times.
I have never stressed so much about one thing before that I couldn’t believe it myself. I could not believe how stressed I got. I broke into smaller pieces each time. Though I may not show it, I was shattered. My confidence, my determination, my emotional and mental strength were just gone. I just couldn’t believe it. I just could not believe my luck. I started thinking of whether I have done anything wrong in the past that karma has come back to haunt me. It got to the point where I would make sure I’d do something different from the last like not book for a test the exact same time as the last, not book for the same day, not wear the same clothes in the hopes that I would not fail again. Of course I prayed and boy did I pray! I even made sure I put my hand on the dragons and lions in Chinatown at CNY!! I tried to go into the test with as much confidence as I could muster up but everytime I failed, the confidence gets less. I would psyche myself up to pass only to be crushed again.
Not only was I disappointed and angry but I became scared of driving. Each time I failed, I became less confident with my driving to a point of phobia. I have become a nervous wreck on the road. I am a good driver and have been since 1996 and I held 2 driving licences from 2 different countries before this and I can drive on both sides of the road but all that went into the drain after so many failures. I simply couldn’t believe it!
Not only was I stressed, broken, disappointed, frustrated, angry at myself but I was so ashamed! I was so embarrassed after the 3rd time. I didn’t know where to put my face after the 3rd failure because all these failures simply show that I was a bad driver. So ashamed that after the 3rd failure, I refused to tell anyone that I was going for the test again. I didn’t want people to know that I was going for yet another test only to show them I failed again. My husband kept telling that I have nothing to be ashamed of but I was. I mean honestly, you would think that I must be a bad driver to have failed so many times right?
You all know about 1st, 2nd, 3rd test but there was a 4th failure. The 4th that only 3 people knew about. I refused to tell anyone about my 4th test just in case I failed again. I didn’t want to have to face with the sympathetic messages on Facebook, etc that would only make me cry each time I read. So when I failed the 4th time, I only had 3 people to be ashamed in front of. But even then, I cried for days. And the worse part was that my kids saw me crying. Everytime I thought about the test I would cry. Everytime I talked about it with my husband and my 2 other friends I cried. I had to muster and convince myself to attend a social event that I didn’t feel like going. I was a wreck. When people asked me when my test was going to be, I would only say “soon”. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone again.
Then came the 5th test, boy I have never been so afraid before. I have never understood or knew the feeling of stress or fear induced vomitting before but now I know. I now know how it feels like when some people vomit when they are stressed and scared because that was exactly what I felt. Although I did not come to the point of actual vomitting but I came close. Everytime I think about the test, I would just gag and I could just feel my guts turning around inside me. I could literally feel my stomach and heart up my throat, I kid you not. This is something that I have never experienced before in my life. Sitting for key examinations, getting married, having my 2 children, moving to Dubai, moving to Melbourne were not as scary as my driving tests at VicRoads.
My friends and family told me to make an official complaint to VicRoads after my 3rd failure because the first 3 tests were conducted by the same tester so there could have been some level of biased judgement. The 4th test was conducted by a different tester so I guess that rules out any prejudicial reasons and I came to a conclusion that I was just plain bad luck. However, I did write a letter. A letter that I didn’t know what to call. A letter that never got sent:
Dear Sir / Madam
I am writing this letter after much thought and consideration to this appeal.
I am a Malaysian who just moved to Melbourne under the Permenant Residents Visa and I am trying to obtain the Victorian Driving Licence. I hold a Malaysian Drivers Licence and have had it since 1996. I also have a Dubai Driving Licence in which I have held since 2009. Both licences are valid and no records of accidents. With the 2 driving licences from 2 different countries together with 17 years of driving experience, it proves that I am a competent and a mature driver.
I sat for my Knowledge and Hazard & Perception Tests at VicRoads in Hoppers Crossings on 12 July 2012 in which I passed. I then registered for a Drive Test in December which I failed and then failed 3 more tests subsequently.
DRIVE TEST 1 - 10 December 2012, 10.55 am, VicRoads Werribee
I failed this first test for speeding. I was aware of my mistake and acknowledge the failure for this test.
DRIVE TEST 2 - 9 January 2012, 11.10 am, VicRoads Werribee
I failed the drive test again and this time, I was told by the Licence Testing Officer (LTO) that the reason I failed was that I was too cautious. My test was terminated after failing to cross a busy dual carriage road.
I thought that this judgement was rather unfair and subjective. It took me a while to cross because I didn't think it was safe to do so. The road was busy and there were traffic coming from both directions of the road. When I got to the junction, a car came on my left with the intention to turn left. That car stopped quite a head of me in which obstructed my view of the traffic coming from the left. It took a while for that car to make his turn because the traffic coming from the right was busy and by the time he made the turn, the traffic from both sides of the road became rather heavy and I did not think it was safe for me to crossover. The LTO got impatient and terminated the test and failed me before I made the turn.
The LTO was seated behind in the passenger's seat and her vantage is not as good as the driver i.e. myself behind the wheel therefore I feel her judgement to fail me was subjective and unfair. I did not think it was safe for me to make the turn.
DRIVE TEST 3 - 11 February 2013, 11.35 am, VicRoads Werribee
I passed the first part of the test and the LTO was very happy with how I faired in this stage. She made a verbal remark that my driving in this stage was "immaculate".
My test was terminated during the second stage of the test again and the reason given this time was speed. During the test, I was given instructions to do a lane change from the right lane to the left lane. I did so safely but according to the LTO, I went up 65km/h on a 60km/h limit road and the test was terminated immediately. There were two speedometers in the car and I was observing the speedometer in front of me right before she failed me and I was very sure that the needle on the speedometer did not leave the 60km/h mark. My speed might have gone up to 62km/h but it was for less than 5 seconds before I brought the speed down to below 60km/h.
According to your VicRoads Drive Test Handbook Topic 7.5 - Excessive Speed (page 49). Error will be recorded if:
The applicant exceeds the speed limit continously for 5 seconds or more at any time during the test
For reference, please refer to http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/3111267D-48FA-4D01-928F-8DA70173B936/0/DriveTestCriteria.pdf
Again, I strongly believe that the judgement made by the LTO was subjective and I that I did not exceed the speed limit continously for 5 seconds or more. I do not believe she took the 5 seconds allowance into consideration. I tried present my case but she refused to listen.
Please note that the my first 3 drive tests were conducted by the same VicRoads LTO.
DRIVE TEST 4 - 5 March 2013, 11.50 am, VicRoads Werribee
My drive test was terminated in the second stage of the test. The LTO gave me instructions to do a lane change from left to right when safe. I did not perform the task at at first because I did not think it was safe to do so and we were coming into a set of traffic lights. We stopped at the traffic lights and after the lights turned green, I asked the LTO if I should still carry on with the lane change and she told me to do so when safe. I did my mirror check, put on my right indicator and did my headcheck before I performed the lane change when I knowing that it was safe to do so. The LTO terminated the test and told me that I did a lane change when it was not safe and that the vehicle behind me had to take evasive actions to let me into the lane.
I performed the lane change with confidence that it was safe to do so. We were on a 60km/h road and we just left a set of traffic lights where it had just turned green. I made the lane change about 150 meters after the traffic lights and I knew that all the vehicles leaving that junction were only just picking up speed and I changed lanes with confidence.
How does one judge if the vehicle behind did actually have to take evasive action to let me into the lane when the LTO is not able to see for a fact that the driver of the vehicle slammed the brakes in order to let me into the lane?
DRIVE TEST 5 - 26 March 2013, 1.00 pm, VicRoads Werribee
I am booked for another drive test on the 26 March 2013.
I decided not to send the letter fearing repercussions that would affect my then impending 5th test. I wrote the letter after much thought and out of frustration. I knew that the letter would be useless but at that time, I thought I just had to do something about it. In the end, it remained in my draft box.
I did not tell anyone about my 5th test at all. I did not even tell my husband. I resisted telling him eventhough we were talking to each other and chatting the night before. I was so nervous the night before that I could not sleep. My mind kept replaying the last 4 tests and kept thinking of all the other possibly reasons for another failure. The images of each failure kept playing in my head and I remember all of them super clearly. I can even show you which tree or which roadside the tester asked me to park just to tell me I failed. I have done the test so many times that I am so familiar with the test route!
Well anyway, that is done and I finally passed. Now I am going to put this behind me. I am sure in years to come, I shall look back and may even think of this as yet another trivial moment in my life. All I can say and be proud of now is I hold 3 driving licences from 3 different countries, all in which I had to go through lessons and painful tests. Oh yes, the root cause of all these pain and misery is – Malaysian driving licence sucks!! It is NOT recognized in most parts of the world!
My almost flawless results sheet.
I DID IT! And thank you all for your wishes and prayers.
(actual driving licence card will be posted)