French Drivers

FRENCH DRIVERS….Here’s a peculiar paragraph from a book I’m currently reading. The author is talking to a guy who has moved to France and needs to pass the driving test:

I was surprised to discover that he was nervous about this exam, and even more surprised when he told me about some of the questions that were giving him trouble. There was a question on speed limits, which showed a sign with “80” on it, and asked which of three speeds you are permitted to travel at after passing the sign: 60, 80, or 100 k.p.h. During his lessons, in which he was set test questions, he kept making the mistake of answering “80” when should have answered “60” and “80” (because clearly if you are permitted to travel at 80 k.p.h. you are also permitted to travel at 60).

So it’s a trick question, of the kind beloved by 10-year-olds the world over. But why do the French have trick questions on their driving exam? Shouldn’t a driving test just be a straightforward test of whether you know the rules of the road, not a series of “gotchas”?

Of course, the consensus of non-French opinion is that the French are lousy drivers. Maybe this is why.

(Oh, and this little story is also a metaphor for French fecklessness, appeasement, intellectual elitism, and anti-Americanism too. Just in case you didn’t think I knew that.)

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