Monday, July 18, 2011

Random Asianess: The Written Driver's License Test

Today, I want to go back to the Driver’s License test. I’ll get to part two of the, “Stink of Adventure,” (July 11, 2011) soon. But I ventured away from this and I want to be sure I finish it. In the way of total disclosure, I need to say that I still haven’t gotten my Taiwanese Driver’s License. I can pass the test, I’m sure of it. It’s just that I don’t really have time to jump through all of the hoops that have been placed before me. But I’ll get there. I just need to get one of my friends to spend a day with me and I think I can meet all the objections.


I’m a disabled person, which makes it a little more difficult to get a license. One of the requirements for the license was that I add a “suicide ball,” or as it is known here, a “wheel handle knob.” This is a little spinning handle that attaches to the steering wheel so that you can use it to turn the wheel. The wheel handle knob is easily attached with four little Allen screws; the knob even comes with an Allen wrench with which to attach it. But the MVO requires that a licensed professional attach any disabled vehicle modifications. So I need to have a professional do it. I can’t get it done by a mechanic at Ford either; it must be done by someone holding a special disabled modification professional’s license. So that seems to be the holdup. It seems a bit extreme, but rules are rules. All of this must be done prior to taking the written exam.

The infamous "Wheel Handle Knob"
I have taken the written exam once…and I failed it. The test can be taken on the computer, in English. The difficulty is that the study materials are printed only in Chinese. If I could read the study materials, then I wouldn’t need to take the exam in English. There are a number of practice exams on the Internet. If you practice them and carefully check which answer you miss, you can learn to take the test.

The first time I took the test the English language version had a number of problems. Some of the questions made no sense at all. There were many misspelled words and some words I couldn’t find in an English dictionary. But since that time President Ma Ying Jiu has encouraged his staff to rework all official uses of the English language so that they are more accurate and understandable. The result is a much more easily understood test.

There are still some things that need improvement. Some questions are still not easily understood, there are still a number of spelling errors and there are still some made up words. But I have easily passed all the practice tests I have taken recently. So great strides have been made.

The test can be taken in eight languages: Chinese, English, Japanese, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Burmese (Myanmar). The MVO staff encourages you to take the computer practice tests prior to trying the written test at the MVO. In the past, one was only able to take the written test in English in Taipei, but now it’s available in any MVO office.

The test consists of a series of questions on road signs, rules of the road and penalties for violating traffic laws. These are mostly about penalties for drunk driving or the use of drugs and alcohol on public roadways. But there are questions abot professional licenses, such as truck drivers and taxi drivers. There are also questions on penalties for driving without a license. These are the most difficult to learn. The signs are pretty obvious most of the time. The rules of the road are similar to the rules of the road in California. But the penalties are different and sometimes don’t seem to make much sense.

Finally, most of the questions that are not worded properly have been weeded out, but you come across one or two in the test that may confuse you. The following question is from the test.  See if you can figure it out, before you look at my answer:

Drivers are required to:
(1) pull their vehicles out of the lane and stop on the road are required toer, and wait for rescue.
(2) Stop immediately and ask passengers to get off the vehicles to seek rescue,
(3) Call their friends to tow the vehicle if their vehicles break down on freeway.

Toer?  Oh I see you mean the shoulder of the road
This is a difficult question because I can’t find the word toer in any dictionary. The appropriate answer is (1), because what I have determined the answer is saying is to pull over onto the marked shoulder of the road and wait in the car. They don’t want you walking around on the freeway or having non-professionals towing your car, because these things may create more danger to you and others.

I will probably complete the process in the next few weeks, meanwhile, you can find the written practice tests here.

Other posts you may be interested in:
 
Random Asianess:  Driving in Taiwan
Cultural Unawareness:  The Wheels of Bureaucracy Turn Slowly
Cultural Unawareness:  You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours

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