Irish Internet Radio and TV from Dublin, Ireland.

Right so, I haven't uploaded a blog before, so I hereby got blog-deflowered or (b)logged, so to say :)
I decided to use this (irregular or infrequent) blog to explain some features of Dutch culture to the world.

I just received a text message from my girl friend that she's finally passed the driving exams, and so she can go pick up her license and drive out and about the country. I can almost hear the people on LI who know me thinking: But isn't he about 22 years old, so his girlfriend is about 20? Driving license @ 20 yo?

That's correct: My girlfriend is 20 years old and has just passed the driving tests. In the Netherlands, you can't start your driving lessons before your 18th birthday. In most English-speaking countries, the earliest age for driving a car is 16. The Dutch government argues however that a 16 year old has less conception of responsibility that driving a car brings along; The speed, the safety of others, and the costs of a car are often undervalued. That's why they set the minimal age for driving a car at 18. At 16, however, they are allowed to drive mopeds or scooters. And farm kids can opt for a tractor driving license.

Driving lessons are expensive, and, unless mummy and daddy are paying, a lot of 18ers choose to work for a bit to be able to afford it, like my girlfriend. An average driving lesson costs about €35. that's about $46. An average kid needs about 32 lessons. You do the maths. Quite an expense, right? And that's just the lessons. There's a lot of extra expenses; there's a compulsory traffic theory exam, a middle exam and the final exam. During the middle exam, you're tested on your special car movement skills, like driving backwards (and round the corner), pulling off at a slope (without rolling backwards for a bit) and loads of other special things. The Traffic Theory Exam costs about €80 which is $104 (add to that €50 on course books). The Middle Exam costs about €180 ($234) . If you fail, you have to do a resit, paying the same amount again. The Final exam is even more expensive, approx. €200, which is $260. My girlfriend failed 3 times for the final exam. Again, do the maths. So you can imagine she's pretty happy right now.

But now comes the long wait till friday, because then she can pick up her license. In my days, we could pick it up at the same day, but lately, since the credit card sized license was introduced, it takes some time to produce these.

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Comment by Arco McBride on July 7, 2008 at 6:12
Martin forgot to tell yo all that the gas price in Holland is for 1 liter and there are 3.7 liters in 1 gallon.
So why do the american's say tha there gas prices are so steep.??
Comment by Kobi on June 12, 2008 at 1:53
Martin, how does the lesson price compare to when you got your license? It is similar in Germany, but when I got my license (1989) there was only one theoretical exam. Had about 30 lessons too....

It was so fun compared to get my drivers license here in the USA/Indiana. Although I did fail my first driving didn't realized in a strange town that that one road was one way...and the non existing lines on the road didn't help! :)

My step son is 15 now and as his grades were ok, he just got a learners permit...he is very itching to drive too.... not sure where he will get the money for gas, insurance or car.....
Comment by Felicia on May 30, 2008 at 5:15
Hi! My son had practice at either midnight or 5am on many days, but not every day. I was not clear about that. Hoever, for a couple years in a row, heplayed everyday in either a game or at practice. He was the epitomy of top shelf athlete in terms of strength, endurance and physical shpe and he kept his job, his girlfirend happy and had exceptionly grades, so it was good for awhile. He evern played against retired Flyers--the heros of my generation and beyond. Let me tell you when he swiped the puck from Rick McCleash or when Dave Schultz whacked him in the back of his helmet, it took me back ot o my memories of Stanley Cup playoffs and great wins, and Bernie PArent, oneof the best goalies Ihave ever seen---ah, but I digress..all in alll having a car helped him stay active and who knows what else now that I am thinking about it....
Comment by Jill (mandogrl) on May 29, 2008 at 0:34
Interesting stuff! Here in NL (Newfoundland) driving starts at 16 (too early for me) but kids who have passed the test to drive this early have to be home by 12 midnight. I don't like the idea because I have two small kids who will be asking for driving lessons in the future. AAHHH!!!!
Anyway, thanks for your interesting info. It is expensive everywhere to go to driving school but has great advantages.
Comment by Martin (NL) on May 28, 2008 at 23:42
Your son had ice hockey training at midnight and 5 o'clock in the morning? When did he sleep? In between? This would be impossible in Europe. We love our hobbies, but we're not that dedicated (once in a while I do get up at 5 for the band, but not every week or day; it's a hobby, not a profession).
And for the drinking & driving part: I was thinking of dedicating another blog to that. Along with the marijuana and drugs arrangements in our country.

@ Morgana:
I haven't mentioned fuel prices yet, but they're sky rocketing. We pay about €1,45 per litre (that's about $1,90). The government is stimulating the use of public transport, because the roads are crammed. Students like me can apply for a Public Transport Pass, with which we can make free use of busses and trains during regular week days.
Comment by Felicia on May 28, 2008 at 14:48
Thank you so much for sharing this information! In America, in my state of Pennsylvania, many teens drive and drive badly. They play wiht the radio and drink& drive, smoke etc. Not a good thing to see. Although my son drove straight away in school, because he worked and he was an ice-hockey player who had practices at mignight and 5am, and he had school, I was happy that he took someof the traveling off of me. I had little girls at home and sometimes it was such a hassel to load up everyone just to drop him at practice in the rink--brrrr. Anyway, I insisted that he take driving lessons and it was very expensive, but he did very well and passed his exam on the first time.

I did not bother to get a license until I was 21, although I drove a lot illegally, especialy at parties--I was designated driver! Anyway, it is funny that I agree with the government that one should be able to afford the tests and insurance payments before they can drive. My son had three cars before he was 21, and II am taking a different route with my daughters. They have to work and get their own insurance before they can drive. My one daughter will be 18 and really doesn't wnat to drive, while my 15 year old is itching to drive--different strokes for different folks I guess. Thanks again for sharing--very interesting!

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