In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we talked about the difficulties of getting a driver’s licence in Hong Kong – from the expensive lessons and long waiting times, to a test that’s notoriously difficult to pass.
In today’s final part, we will be giving some practical tips on how to pass the test, as well as look at alternative ways to get your licence.
As you are probably aware, the legal age to apply for a driver’s licence in Hong Kong is 18. For many people, this is around the time they’ll be going to university. So for anyone planning to go to university overseas, particularly in a country like the United States, Britain, Canada or Australia, you might want to look into taking your test there. Then you can get your overseas licence converted to a Hong Kong one in a very short time.
I got my licence while I was studying at university in Los Angeles in the US – supposedly one of the most difficult places to pass in the country – without taking a single driving lesson.
My dad taught me the basics of driving when I visited the American side of my family during the summer, and I was able to practise while I was at university using my friends’ cars. I simply used Google to research tips and tricks on how to pass.
I actually failed my test twice before I passed, which was frustrating. But I only had to wait one week – rather than six to nine months as happens in Hong Kong – before re-taking the test, which meant the reasons my instructor gave me for failing were still fresh in my mind.
For example, I failed the second time because I didn’t come to a complete halt at a stop sign. I corrected my mistake and was able to pass a week later. It only cost US$20 to retake the test.
YP web sub-editor Jamie Lam had a similar experience getting his licence in Canada. “I was able to get my learner’s licence at 16 so I could legally practise with my dad,” he said. “I failed my test the first time but it only took a couple of weeks to reschedule, and I got my licence the second time.”
YP sub-editor Ginny Wong managed to pass on her first go in Britain. “I had a lesson just before my test where my instructor and I went over the manoeuvres that were likely to come up, which they did. I can’t remember feeling particularly stressed because I felt like I was prepared for it.”
For those who are staying in Hong Kong after secondary school and wish to get their licences, have no fear. Two members of the YP team managed to pass their test the first time.
YP Junior Reporters’ Club manager Rhea Mogul said it’s not enough to just do everything right. You have to let your examiner know that you’re doing everything right.
“Hong Kong has this rule during a test where you have to look over your shoulder before turning,” Mogul said. “It’s not enough to use your mirrors.”
She said she used “super exaggerated movements” to show her examiner she was purposefully looking.
YP reporter Edmund Ho said the test was easy and anyone should be able to pass as long as they are careful.
Ho said: “The hardest part is parking, where you are required to parallel park within the lines of the parking space, so just practise that and you’ll be fine.”
Stressful as it may be, it is possible to get your licence on your first go. Just be careful, and stay calm despite the pressure. Good luck!