So I have to get an American driver’s license

A photo of the new Ford Mustang with the caption "Let me drive"

It turns out that an American license is essential if you want to be an American automotive writer.
Photo: Ford United States

When I introduced myself here to Jalopnik, a lot of commentators took offense that I don’t have a US license yet, just a UK license unnecessary. I am currently taking steps to rectify this.

It has been an interesting process full of complicated forms to prove that I am a resident here, pre-clearance tests and lots of road rage warnings in New York State.

I’ll start at the top, before getting into all the rage-filled details the DMV gives you later.

The first hurdle was getting a learner’s permit to actually start hitting the road. To do this, there was a written test that asked me about American road signs, speed limits, traffic laws and good driving practices.

It’s awesome. These are all things I wanted to know before I was let loose on the city streets. I passed by and quickly found myself walking happily over to the local DMV. There they took some horrible photos and asked me the story of my life. Now, I thought, I’m free to hit the road.

But wait! There is more paperwork lurking in the shadows.

A photo of a road through Times Square

Just let me go on the streets of New York.
Photo: David Dee Delgado / Stringer (Getty Images)

To make sure you really know all of the answers to the written exam you’ve already passed, the New York DMV requires anyone over the age of 18 to take an additional five-hour driving course.

Sure, there’s a bit more information about the grip, but it covers pretty much the same things you probably already know by this point.

That is, until you get to the heavy section on road rage.

Chapter 8, Defensive Driving. And, because of its size, I can only assume that most New York motorists still drive in fits of rage.

To quote the course, road rage is “an emotional state of anger or hostility.” A person in a state of road rage may be compelled to commit “violent criminal acts, or threats or attempted violent acts”, while driving their vehicle. It all sounds pretty scary to me.

During the course, drivers new to the state learn that construction zones trigger road rage, that a bad schedule can leave you in fits of anger, or that traffic on the road can spiral you into a spiral.

It warns you that road rage can cause fellow motorists to cut you up, deliberately hit your vehicle, or even knock you off the road. Then he describes how road rage can cause people to fight, attack, or hurt you.

The DMV made me think every driver in NYC is angry

The DMV made me think every driver in NYC is angry
Graphic: New York DMV

At this point, driving in America seems like it could, at any moment, slip into a scene of Death race.

But before you start creating Frankenstein’s monster to defend you on the wild road, the DMV is on hand to teach you how to dispel any road rage situation.

It offers practical tips such as ‘avoid eye contact’ and ‘get away safely’, which ensures that you will be useful for any young driver caught in a difficult situation.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but is an angry person going to react well if you back up your car without looking them in the eye? I do not think so.

Fortunately, now that I am fully aware of all the ways to avoid angry motorists, I am allowed to book myself a proper driving test. But I hope none of these road rage practical successes come in handy when I take the final exam.

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Milton S. Rodgers