About the Colony

Here’s how DMV test should read

Remember the fear of your upcoming eighth-grade U.S. Constitution test? The teachers warned for a whole year that if you failed it, you’d be stuck in eighth grade for another year while your friends went on to high school.

Then there was the trauma of waiting to see if your master’s thesis was accepted, you slid through economics with a passing grade or you passed that engineering class where you had so much trouble but that you needed for that commission in the U.S. Navy.

I’ve always feared testing. I seem to freeze up even when I know the answer but tend to overthink the question, concluding that I’m being tricked into only thinking I know this answer.

Tomorrow, I face the ultimate fear. I have to take my DMV written test. I haven’t taken that test for almost 40 years. I’ve been reading the California Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Handbook to brush up, and I find there is a big discrepancy between what the handbook says and what people actually do.

In fact, based on my observances of driving habits for the past few years, I think they should rewrite the handbook to more accurately reflect how people actually drive.

Then the questions would look more like this:

1. When you drive on a California roadway, only one of these activities is prohibited, including:

a. Eating your oatmeal and shaving.

b. Talking or texting on a cell phone.

c. Steering with your knees while applying lipstick and plucking your eyebrows.

2. When approaching an intersection, you are required to use your turn signal if:

a. You are within 100 feet of the intersection.

b. There is no full moon.

c. You feel like it.

3. When playing a vehicle’s sound system, it is illegal if:

a. You are wearing headphones that cover both ears.

b. The music can be heard more than three car lengths behind you.

c. There is any perceptible beat to the music.

4. When driving at night on a dimly lit street, you should:

a. Drive slowly enough so that you can stop within the area lighted by your headlights.

b. Keep your headlights and all other lights on the front of your car on high beam.

c. Ignore any quick “dim-to-bright” signal from oncoming cars.

My driver’s license expires within three days of tomorrow’s written exam. If I fail, I hope my wife doesn’t mind driving me to the store and bank, to work and to visit the children in Southern California.

The real answers above are l(b), 2(a), 3(a), 4(a).

But that’s only in the make-believe world of the California Vehicle Code.

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