Read about Kadar’s experience studying for his driving test and how having a car has impacted his family’s life.
Having a car can be integral to a family’s independence, especially in areas where public transport is limited. However, obtaining a UK driving license can be a challenging and lengthy process. The UK has one of the most difficult theory tests in the world. This is even more demanding if English is not your first language. In England, Wales and Scotland the theory test can only be taken in English.
This was one of the key hurdles Kadar emphasized when we sat down with him to talk about his experience of driving in the UK. The Bath Welcomes Refugees Community Sponsorship group welcomed Kadar and his family to the UK in 2021. Upon arriving to Bath, Kadar had many years of driving experience behind him, having previously worked as an HGV driver. Consequently, he was very determined to get a UK licence and resume driving in order to support his family. During our conversation, Kadar discussed the challenges of studying for the theory test and explained how attaining a driving license has changed his family’s daily life and influenced his future plans and employment prospects.
Read our interview with him below to find out more.
What was your experience of studying and passing your driving test?
Learning the driving theory was a difficult experience at the beginning because of the language. But it had to be done because I couldn’t drive in the UK without a license. I put that in my mind, and I worked really hard to study, and eventually and luckily, I managed to pass the theory and the practical test. It took me eight attempts to pass the theory test, but I only needed to take the practical once to pass. I am so happy to have passed.
How did the practical test go? You’ve mentioned to us before that you have a huge amount of experience driving from your previous job as an HGV driver.
There were no issues with the practical test for me. I found it very easy, as I have been driving a long time. The driving test examiner I had is known for being a particularly difficult person to pass with. But luckily I still managed to easily pass the test. It was a really happy day, but I was the happiest when I finally passed the theory test. I was sure I would pass the practical test because I have very good experience in this field.
What would your advice be to other people studying for their driving theory test?
Looking back, learning the theory content in your first language is not very helpful. So for me, learning the theory in Arabic wasn’t always very useful. It is better to learn it in English first, if your English isn’t at a high level. The best thing to do for non-English speakers is to keep practicing using the resources on the DVLA website which are in English.
They have a theory test revision and practice section, practice tests and a theory and hazard perception test app. This is so useful for people who don’t speak English as their first language. I’ve shared this link with other people and they have also managed to pass the theory test thanks to these resources.
Were there any other computer programs or phone apps that helped you in learning the driving laws?
I bought a computer programme that I used to learn the theory content, which cost around £80. I practiced a lot with that. I also used a test translated to Arabic from English. When I understood all the laws in Arabic, I tried again and again in English. I tried really hard, and I finally managed to pass.
How has driving helped with your integration in the community and life in Bath?
Driving has definitely improved our integration and ability to settle into the community and access the public services we need to get to. Having a car has been very useful for integration because I can do more things with my children. Having the car has been particularly good for the children. They are doing really well and they really enjoyed the summer even more because of the car. I take them to the park a lot and I took them to the beach a couple of times during the summer and they loved it. They’re really happy. It is now also easier for us if we want to go to an area which doesn’t have good public transport. I can now take my kids to visit other children in the area.
The car has also been very important for taking my children to health appointments. My daughter has glaucoma and we are having to take her to the hospital in Bristol a lot. We attend regular appointments with the doctor there, and we are following up different things with the doctor from time to time.
Another way the car has made a positive difference is financially. For example, if I wanted to go to the town centre with my kids, it would cost me a lot to go with the whole family on public transport. I used to take a taxi or the bus, and this could be very expensive. One trip to the town centre with my children on public transport would cost me the same amount in petrol for two weeks.
Has driving impacted on your budget?
It has helped in some areas financially but added new expenses in others. Paying for car insurance can be a lot of money. Also as I am driving during a time when there is a cost of living crisis; overall my financial situation has not improved.
We are struggling a bit because of the rising cost of living and things becoming very expensive. However, the car makes a massive difference to me because it means I can access a wider range of shops. For example, before passing my test, when I needed to go to Bristol to get some halal meat or something, I would need to pay around £80 for a taxi to travel there and back, because we are a big family. That would be such a massive expense. So having the car in these situations is making a big difference. I now only need to pay around £7 for fuel to get from Bath to Bristol. It is also making it easier for me to attend important appointments with my children. Taxis are really expensive, so having the car is giving us the opportunity to save money as well. I travel to Bristol a lot as I like to do my shopping there. The shops in Bath can be expensive.
What are your plans for the future?
I am doing my best to find a job at the moment. I have just applied to become a bus driver, as I’ve now passed the theory and practical driving test. I would like to be a bus driver so I can support my family.
Thank you very much Kadar!