Today I passed my Oregon Driving Test practical, and am now a fully licensed US driver. Now that we're both fully licensed in Oregon our joint car insurance has dropped about $22 a month.
In theory it wasn't a big deal, because I was driving legally on my UK license anyway, and there's no specified date when that is no longer accepted. In practise, it's a huge deal to me, and one of the hurdles I felt I had to jump to be at home in the US. A driving license is often used as photo ID, so before this I had to carry my passport everywhere.
I did a written theory test a couple of weeks ago, but failed my first practical last week, because I rolled through a red light when turning right. It's one of the differences between UK driving and US driving that catch me out occasionally.
Most States allow you to turn right on a red light if it is safe to do so (i.e. the way is clear and there's no vehicle coming along from the left) but you still have to stop first, because it's a red light. They allow this turn except where the don't, and not all states allow it, so that's nice and clear.
America has a lot more types of intersection than the UK: Four-way stops, two-way stops, traffic light-controlled junctions, junctions with warning lights but no controls, junctions with stop lights but no controls, and probably others I can't remember. There are also a bunch more speed limits posted around town compared to the UK: 55 on the Beltline Highway, 45 on some major roads, dropping to 35 in shopping areas, 25 in residential districts, 20 in business districts and school zones (during school hours). It can be a full time job just remembering what the current limit is. Don't go by the other drivers, they're often breaking the limit anyway.
The second good news today was the arrival of my Green Card. This is the offical confirmation of my right to live and work in the USA, so I no longer need to carry my Visa (which was in my passport). It's like a credit card, with a somewhat distorted picture of me and my right index fingerprint. There's also a bunch of numbers and letters, I'm sure they're important too.
So a double red letter day, and we're eating out tonight to celebrate, probably at Applebees which was the first restaurant we visited when we came over last June.
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