I was interested to read Herbert Winter's letter (Letters, Aug. 24, page 8) because I recently took my driving test here in Taiwan and was shocked by the whole thing.
The only part of the procedure that posed any problem was the written test. It wasn't particularly difficult, but the English translation was so bad that some questions were unintelligible and others directly contradicted themselves.
The road test, a five-minute vehicular obstacle course, is absurdly easy and, as Winter pointed out, in no way prepares you for driving on real roads. On real roads you have to contend with other motorists, many of whom appear to be certifiably insane. There are cyclists and pedestrians and you have to do things like change lanes in busy traffic, overtake and stop at the side of the road. The obstacle course does not test any of these driving situations.
Then there's the fact that on test day, all the driving school teachers are motioning outside your car, letting you know exactly when to stop as you reverse to park. Inside the car, my examiner was giving me constant directions, saying: "OK, turn now" and "slow, slow."
The entire setup is engineered so that as many people as possible pass, regardless of their driving ability.
The experience would have been funny, if not for the knowledge that many hundreds of people die on Taiwan's roads each year. Surely the first step towards overcoming these tragedies would be a more rigorous instruction and testing system.
Dalin, Chiayi County