Monday, November 26, 2012

Driving Licence in Oman - Some tips for the Road test

TIPS for newly arrived expats on how to maximise your chances of clearing the dreaded Oman Road Test!!

When I got to Oman, the first major issue was the utter lack of any sort of viable public transport.
No autos, no buses, no metro, no nothing...
The only mode of transport available is the taxi - by Government order only to be driven by local Omani citizens. But they are so expensive that they are practically not viable as an alternative.
So the only viable option is to buy a car and drive it yourself.

That is where the trouble starts. For the lucky few who have driving licences from "favoured" countries including UK, US, Canada etc. its just a simple matter of getting your existing driving licence exchanged for the local Omani one.

But for "commoners" from other nations, it means passing a drums test, a slope test and finally the notorious road test.
The drums test and slope test are exempted for drivers who can produce evidence of having an existing driving licence valid for at least two years from their native country, duly endorsed by the respective embassy.

Fortunately, the drum and slope test are fairly easy and normally not an issue to pass.
The drum test involves reversing your car into a row of barrels placed perpendicular to your car without touching any of them.




The slope test involves moving your car on a slope without rolling backwards.
Most people pass these on the first attempt or maximum on the second attempt.

The road test however, is another matter. I know people who have attempted it more than 15 times without success, spending more than OMR 1000 in the process.
Some have even given up and gone back to their native country in frustration.

Good drivers who have been driving for years in their native countries have been frustrated at their attempts to pass here.
By God's grace, I managed to pass my driving licence road test in the very first attempt.

I'd like to share my experience for those who might benefit from it.


Training:

1. The specific trainer is not important. 


My trainer was someone who had been training a few of my colleagues, and almost all of them had dropped him and gone on to someone else. Some of these people are still trying. 
Pick a trainer who speaks a language you can understand.
Unless you can understand fully what your trainer is trying to teach you, you will make mistakes in the road test.
If you don't understand something, make sure to ask him and clarify properly.
Don't pay a package upfront to him. 
Pay only on a hour by hour basis. 
Don't keep your green book with him at all.

2. Be cool headed when training:I'm a very senior doctor and have been driving in India since I was 18. 
Still during a few lessons, my trainer would shout and scream at me when I made mistakes.
Never be put off by the shouting and screaming.
Internalise the point he is trying to make and ignore the rest.
If your trainer is a mild person, all the better!
Try not to make the same mistake more than twice when training.
When your lesson is finished for the day, spend 10 minutes going over all the mistakes you made and how you can prevent them the next day.
Treat the trainer with respect. He is your teacher after all.

3. Road driving:
Don't go for a road test unless you make less than 2 "minor" and NO "major" mistakes in an hour's driving lesson. Some of the "major" mistakes include crossing the yellow line, not giving enough space ahead from the car in front of you, searching for gears, using the wrong lane for manoeuvres, switching lanes without using mirrors and checking the "blind spot", not using indicators especially to exit a roundabout and turning in the wrong direction or illegally.
Most people are ok with their road driving. 
The rules are simple. 
Always depress your clutch completely. Never ever should your gears make that horrible grinding noise.
Don't touch the yellow line at any cost. 
Don't allow any vehicle to overtake you in your lane. 
Take the correct lane for the manoeuvre you are asked to do. 
Keep to the speed limit and don't go below 5 kmph below the speed limit unless absolutely essential. 
Drive smoothly without jerks or sudden starts or stops. 
Switch gears at the correct speeds up and down. 
Look at the road signs carefully and follow them strictly. 
Always use your indicators for any movement of your vehicle sideways. 
Horn when necessary and don't when not. 
Allow pedestrians full rights. 
Give right of way. 
Learn all the one-ways in your entire route by heart. Note them down after each driving lesson.
Learn the speed limits of each road in your route by heart.
Leave the correct space from the vehicle in front.
Slow down at roundabouts smoothly and maintain the correct speed at the line to enable you to stop or proceed as required without a jerk.
Roundabouts are always negotiated in second or at most third gear (only for empty and large roundabouts).
Never stop in the road or a roundabout unless for safety reasons.
Use your hazard warning lights judiciously for sudden braking or stopping. Switch them off only after you have got going.
Use your three mirrors at all times.
Stop completely at all stop signs. Complete halt is essential.


Never keep in the fast lane unless absolutely essential.
Look left, right and left again before going right.
Look right, left and right again before going left.
Never overtake unless your trainer instructs you to do so. Do it smoothly and return to your lane after completion. Use mirrors and indicators.

4. Parking areas:


Parking areas are the most confusing. 
Make sure that you learn the directions of each passageway in each parking area in your route.
I found it useful to get out of the vehicle at each parking area and memorise the entire topography including the signs, one-ways and restricted zones so that one can use the parking area even blind folded!!
Always stop at all stop lines,
Never cross a white unbroken line across your lane without stopping.
Never ever cross a white unbroken divider line for any reason.
When parking keep the car in the middle of the two lines and parallel to the lines. Keep about a foot and a half in front. Front wheels should be centered.
Gear release first and then handbrake release. Same order when applying them.
When reversing out of parking, keep to the middle of the lane in one way areas. In two way areas, reverse into the lane going in the direction you want to go. Use mirrors, indicators and your head and neck too to check for obstructions. Keep your car and steering straight before going forward.
Never go over a hump at 3rd gear. Only first or second gear. Second gear preferred.


5. The roundabouts:

The trainer will give you the following instructions. 
Please note the directions and the lane you have to take:
Roundabout Right 
Roundabout Straight
Roundabout left
Roundabout comeback
NEVER change lanes in a roundabout!!

This is for a two lane roundabout.
The green line shows the lane to be used and the lane for exit at the roundabouts for a right turn and straight ahead manoeuvres.

The red line shows the lane to be used and the lane for exit at the roundabouts for a left turn and comeback (basically a U-turn) manoeuvres.


You need to use the indicators for all exits at the roundabout except the straight.
Note that you exit at the fast lane for the left and comeback turns. Use indicators and your mirror to revert to the slow lane after completing the manoeuvre.


This is for a three lane roundabout.
The yellow line shows the lane to be used and the lane for exit at the roundabouts for a right turn and straight ahead manoeuvres.

The blue line shows the lane to be used and the lane for exit at the roundabouts for a left turn and comeback (basically a U-turn) manoeuvres.


You need to use the indicators for all exits at the roundabout except the straight.

Note that you exit at the fast lane for the left and comeback turns. Use indicators and your mirror to revert to the slow lane after completing the manoeuvre.





Complex roundabout manoeuvres:
Sometimes they will ask you to take one or two complete rounds of the roundabout before exiting.
What the point of this is, I really don't know, but that is the road test for you!! :)

Complete roundabout and right turn:
Note that the lane taken is different from the ordinary right turn:
This is for a two lane roundabout.
The red line shows the lane to be used and the lane for exit at the roundabouts.
You need to use the indicators for the exit.
Note that you exit at the fast lane. Use indicators and your mirror to revert to the slow lane after completing the manoeuvre.


Complete roundabout and straight:
Note that the lane taken is different from the ordinary straight:
This is for a two lane roundabout.
The red line shows the lane to be used and the lane for exit at the roundabouts.
You need to use the indicators for the exit.
Note that you exit at the fast lane. Use indicators and your mirror to revert to the slow lane after completing the manoeuvre.



6. The road test:

The day before the actual driving test you can ask your trainer to find out from the ROP notice board, the area in which you will face the test.
Spend two hours the previous day and one hour the day of the test going over and over that single area focussing on the one-ways, parking areas and signal light areas.
Try your best not to make more than two mistakes in these lessons.Don't be tense or nervous during the test. 
Remember it is not a matter of life and death whether you pass or not.
Take it cool and easy. Try singing or humming your favourite song while you are waiting for your turn.Smile at everyone, it relaxes you and puts you in a good mood. Thumbs up to others taking the test that day!!
Wish your ROP examiner good morning or similar. Be pleasant.
Check your seat belt and your examiners seatbelt is on. My examiner purposefully did not put his belt on and asked me to proceed.I just politely asked him to put his seatbelt on.
Check your mirrors again. They can get dislodged again while the ROP examiner is getting in.
Listen carefully and concentrate hard for the next 20 minutes. 
Keep your mind blank except for what you hear from the examiner.Follow his instructions to the dot. 
Look for traps in his instructions. He will try at least twice to make you go in no entry zones or park in handicapped slots. Don't fall for it. Answer loudly and clearly "No right here" or "Handicapped parking, no parking here".Then don't stop. Just carry on till you hear his next instruction.
If there is no further instruction, go right at the next legal right (if he has asked you to go right) or park at the next legal parking (if he has asked you to park).
Do what you did in training in the morning and you will definitely pass.
The ROP examiners are very fair and will not fail you without reason.
Drive perfectly and you will pass 100%
If you felt that you drove perfectly, you are entitled to ask the ROP why you failed and where.
You are also entitled to complain to the ROP if you felt you were wrongly failed.
Your trainer will not be the correct person to tell you where you went wrong. That would be the ROP examiner.

That's about it. Wish you luck and God's blessings in your next road test.

40 comments:

  1. Thank you so much. It was an awesome post...

    :) Please try to turn off the word verification of the comments. Many will not even bother to post a comment after such procedures.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks. I've no idea how to turn it off. It is on by default.
    Take care.

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  3. Very helpful....I m taking lessons now a days n it's hard....i haven't driven before in my country n my trainer here is yelling and all...I m depressed for whole day after lesson........r there any instructors who don't yell? Btw nice article,very helpful indeed

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  4. Thanks for your appreciation. It's a pity that most of the trainers yell during the lessons. All I can say is not to take it to heart and just shrug it off if you can.

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  5. Very nice blog. I have my test tomorrow. I am sure your tips here will help me clear it. Thanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. All the best and prayers for your test.

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  6. Dear sir,

    My name is shinas i already took that book in ROP.i have only road test and my test date is 31st july 2013.iam totally woried about driving test bcz i have no such a trainer i trained my self.so please tell me how to overcome this situation.

    ReplyDelete
  7. very Helpful. Thank you for taking time to share this with us.

    I am a fresh learner and I passed drum test easily in the first attempt but failed in the slope test. The car rolled backwards and wheeled. In the second attempt too it wheeled a little enough for failing. How can I get pass this?

    I have taken an overall of 22 hours till date. Passed Drum after 9 hrs.

    Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment.
      Please try to use the heel toe technique to control both the accelerator and the brakes together for hill starts and stops.
      You are trying to shift rapidly from brake to accelerator to start on a hill. This will lead to backwards roll and wheeling.
      Use a simultaneous heel for accelerator and toes for brake to overcome this.

      Delete
  8. If you are legal or permanent resident and country does not issue the international driving license you should be aware of the following: Consumers cannot legally drive in most countries without obtaining a temporary or permanent driver's license from the country in which he or she plans to drive; and Our unofficial international translation of driver's license does not confer any driving privileges on consumers whose home countries do not issue International Driving Permits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info. Most countries do issue IDPs especially countries in the Far East and India as well through the AAA. So, if one is used to driving at these speeds and have the knowledge of the rules and regulations which apply, then one can drive as a tourist in these countries with the IDP.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. very good,very very informative ...thanks for your post...it will be helpful for everyone

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Glad it was useful. Please ask your friends who are taking the test to go through it.
      A lot of my colleagues who read this could clear their test in one to three attempts after practicing all these points.

      Delete
  10. thanks a lot for the post i want to know how much did it cost

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. The cost of one hour's driving class was OMR 6. There are extra charges for appearing for each driving test apart from the usual ROP fees.

      Delete
  11. if i am having indian licence, drum and slope avoidable or not

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If ur having a valied D.L which is issued a year back and if it is plastic card as such as our resident card and if your getting the attestation from Indian embassy (cost is 4.9 R.O),and then get attested by Ministry of foreign affairs(cost 5 R.O),you are allowed to directly to go for road test.If the Indian D.L is book type or laminated type like old licenses your not allowed you should do drum and slope test.

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  12. Monday 7-10-2013 was my first road test. i passed drums & slope test on second attempt. but i was upset when the inspector failed me for nothing. i was driving perfect. he tried making me confuse by pressing breaks and was holding my steering even though the car was perfect on the lane. He asked my driving tutor is its first attempt before i was on the road. I feel this is ridiculous. I don't even know from where i was wrong no reason!!...i have another try after Eid. Lets see what happens.

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    Replies
    1. The officer has no right to brake or hold your steering unless he perceives danger to himself.

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  13. I passed my Driving test Today on The fourth attempt and I can say this blog is very helpful and applies to all aspects to get a License in Oman.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you very much for guideing..
    I m very nervous after reading this. today i started my training. i have valid Indian DL, but its only 6 month old, i m new here in muscat. Hope i will pass my drum and slope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Drum and slope is easy. Just needs a little practice.
      Try not to be nervous. It's only a driving test. You won't die. Be bindass. It'll help.

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    3. http://omandrivinglicense.blogspot.com/2013/10/blog-post.html

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    4. Thank you Dr Biji Thomas George, you were my inspiration. Just check out that link please

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    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    6. Brilliant blog! Really enjoyed reading that. Congratulations!
      I'm putting a link to your blog at the end of mine under 'further reading'. Hope that is ok.
      Cheers!

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    7. Ok Sir..! No problem...:-)Sorry for the delayed reply..! Thank you.

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  15. Hi sir,
    Just want to know how much we need to pay for drum and slope test. My instructor said, we gotta pay RO.35 for each time we attend drum and slope test. Is this amount, on a higher side? Please guide.

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  16. My bigproblem in taking the test I AMVERY NERVOUS

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  17. Excellent post! Very informative! Covers every aspect of the test. After my teacher's lessons, it is your blog which helped me clear the road test in the 2nd attempt.
    Thanks a lot!

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  18. Currently i am residing in muscat and wish to get Oman DL. i am really confused that whether i should start my training in muscat or somewhere near sumail or rustaq. I've got the green book and need to clear only road test. Also i need to get it with less budget. time and distance in not a concerne for me within 200 km from muscat. please help.

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  19. samail is easy, i waiting for my road test

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow! This blog is magnificent. I really like reading your articles about Driver Training. Driving expertise is polar to passing a road or skills test. Amarillo Texas Approved Online Defensive Driving School

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sir, can u give me the GSM no. of your trainer ? i presently gave 6 road tests n i failed. my trainer wants only cash and he is not dedicated to his work.
    Carlwin Chacko

    ReplyDelete