We’ve had our fair share of deaths and injuries on Thanet roads, caused by ‘foreign’ drivers. Some would argue rather more than our fair share too.
The Mail on Sunday reveals that: “Thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers are legally allowed to drive on our roads even though many would be incapable of passing a British driving test, safety campaigners have claimed.
Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander faced calls to end a legal loophole entitling people who have an overseas licence to drive in the UK for a year before taking a test.
Critics claim foreign licences are often bought on the black market in their country of origin or handed out after tests lasting as little as five minutes.
The Department for Transport denied foreign licences were a safety risk, adding: ‘We don't want people here for a short period of time to have to go through the process of getting a licence.’”
Except that I have both a Saudi Arabian and a US driver's license to add to my UK license. The US license, from Florida, demanded a driving test and a multi-choice exam. Not as difficult as our own test but still formal and regulated.
Ironically, my Saudi license was earned differently. This was many years ago and in 'The Magic Kingdom' they demanded that foreigners all drive on a local license. The procedure was relatively simple.
1) Go to the hospital for a medical and an eye test with a copy of your national license.
- The doctor asks: “How are you feeling today Mr Moores?” I reply “Fine thank you.” “Good” he replies and signs my form, directing me on to the optician.
- Sitting me down, the optician asks me to read the lowest line on his wall chart. “It’s upside down” I tell him. “Very good” he says and directs me on to the police station as my next stop.
2) At the police station, I spend four hours in an Arab scrum before a donation of cash gets me my Saudi license. An official obligingly punches a whole through the photo on my US license, to prove he has seen it, making it completely useless in future.
Next stop, and some months later the Thanet Way.