The Driving Test as a Modern Rites of Passage

There are many reasons that people give for learning to drive. Two of the most common ones being work and family. Both of these are essentially about coming of age and the taking on of responsibilities. The other really common one is literally coming of age. Most of us will have done lessons for a 17th birthday on the day of the birthday. This is a modern rite of passage.

The aim is to be given control of a machine (your car!) so that they can drive it safely. Along with the freedom comes a responsibility to do this safely which is subject to enforcement and the laws of the land. 


Taking and passing a driving test is probably the one thing you will have in common with any adult (assuming they can drive). It is almost like a ritual. God’s chosen representative (the driving examiner whose word is final)  will recite the  words in a certain way. “I want you to follow….” and so on.


The candidate will then perform their parts of the ritual: POM, MSM, PSL and LADA. If they have been well prepared they will be anointed with a test pass and granted their freedom.


We are all aware of the false prophets. These are people who have passed a test which was 20 years ago. Convinced of the rightness of what they are saying they fill the eager candidate’s head with false ideas. 


There are other rites of passage that come to mind. Foreskin removal is very popular in some cultures. I once spent some time with some African policemen who were complaining that the young men of today were not so keen on it. I remember the disgust in their faces when they said some men go to the doctor and have it done under a local anaesthetic. Other men they said, are such cowards that they do not want it done at all! Their faces lit up when they described how they would send a gang of men out to catch these cowards and remove the foreskin there and then on the street.

The young men of today do not know how easy they have things. So when your pupil is a bit apprehensive about the driving test you can remind them there are alternatives. By this I mean public transport of course. Or worse still having to put up with me as an instructor even longer.


What can we take away from this:

  • A driving test is one of the things that we all have in common
  • Because of that everyone who has passed is an expert