At the DMV

Today the younger daughter takes the test for her Pennsylvania driver’s license.

This could take a while. But then it could be much, much worse.

One of the good things about growing up in New Jersey is that after experiencing the Garden State’s DMV, dealing with PennDOT almost seems pleasant.

The DMV — just a small part of the high cost of too-low taxes.

Update: Triumph! Success! Passage! I am now the parent of two licensed organ donors.

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  • Invisible Neutrino

    Good luck to the Slacktiyoungster! (eesh, it’s been years since my driving test. I can’t remember exactly how nervous I was, though I did pass :) )

  • Michael Wendell

    I grew up in Jersey and thought Pennsylvania’s system was worse, but that could be related to specific locations. When I lived in (Western) PA the DMV was a tiny box of a building outside of a jail in Somerset. You also have to consider that, unlike NJ, PA only handles licensing issues, having offloaded most of the vehicle registration process to the private sector.

    I can say that Virginia and West Virginia, the other two states I have experience with, are both far better than either PA or NJ.

  • Magic_Cracker

    DMV? More like NKVD!

    I paid for those roads — the WHOLE road, not HALF– so making me drive on ONLY ONE side at a time is an uncompensated taking (i.e., STEALING) of half of MY road and giving it to dimwitted PARASITES too SLOW and STUPID to GET OUT OF MY WAY! And don’t tell me to “share the road” like we’re in Kindergarten (or as I like to call it “Communistergarten). KINDERGARTEN IS OVER, MISTER HERR COMRADE-KOMMISSAR PC POLICE NAZI STASI!!! — It’s time to GET REAL and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR SELF!  If you don’t like the way I drive, you have the FREEDOM to STAY HOME!!

  • PurpleAardvaark

    Pennsylvania DOT — where cash is not an acceptable form of payment.

  • Magic_Cracker

    So much for “all debts, private and public” — even the government knows its own FRAUDULENT FIAT PAPER MONEY is WORTHLESS! Did you now it’s NOT EVEN REAL PAPER?!?!

    /okay, chilling out now before I get Poed.

  • Vermic

    So much for “all debts, private and public” — even the government knows its own FRAUDULENT FIAT PAPER MONEY is WORTHLESS! Did you now it’s NOT EVEN REAL PAPER?!?!

    Paging chris the cynic to this thread!  We need “Ron Paul at the DMV” flash fiction!

  • Magic_Cracker

    I’d prefer “Ron Paul and the DMV” slash fiction!

  • PatBannon

    We need “Ron Paul at the DMV” flash fiction!

    I’d prefer “Ron Paul and the DMV” slash fiction!

    Both! Both at once!

  • redsixwing

     Owwww, my brain.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Are there really people who claim that money isn’t real paper?

    Also, I found your ranting funny. No Poe-ing here. 

  • Ross

    US paper currency is printed on something called “rag paper”, which, as it turns out does not meet the industry standards to be considered “paper” in the technical sense (Same way that white chocolate and white pizza aren’t technically chocolate or pizza respectively.)

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I thought it was printed on cotton paper. O.o

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are there really people who claim that money isn’t real paper?

    Uh, yeah, that’d be anybody who knows what money’s made of. Coins are metal and electronic money is digital, of course, and bills are made of cotton and linen fiber. So is some paper, admittedly, but most paper is wood fiber, which survives water poorly. People do insist on going out in the rain while they have money in their pocket, and people do forget their pocket contains money when they go to launder the bepocketed clothing, and various other things that bring bills in contact with water.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I have been educated. 

    Thanks for taking the time to explain. And thanks to Ross, as well. 

  • We Must Dissent

     Most paper (these days) may be mostly wood fiber, but does that mean that if it’s not mostly wood cellulose that it’s not paper? I thought wood pulp was a relatively new source of cellulose to make paper.

  • P J Evans

     Actually, paper money is high-quality paper (cotton or linen fiber with silk threads), and it goes through the wash pretty well – it will fade some, is all.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah. I’ve accidentally washed my wallet with 1990s-era Canadian dollar bills in it. The money came out remarkably intact.

  • myeck waters

    NJ’s DMV got so bad that about ten years ago they completely abolished it and created a new one from scratch.  It’s starting to decline again, but it’s still far better than the old DMV was.

  • VMink

    I once dreaded the NY DMV, but they made a concerted effort to streamline it and make it more user-friendly. (Kind of like the makeover the IRS went through — the DMV and the IRS are now two of the more friendly government agencies I’ve had to work with.  Mind you, this is anecdotal and not a datum; YMMV.)

    Nevada’s DMV was even more pleasant to work with, though they gave me guff for how I, a new resident, pronounced ‘Nevada.’  (They’re… touchy… about that sort of thing.  They also don’t like ‘Darth Nevader’ jokes.  Shocking, I know.)

    California’s DMV is actually pretty keen; I stepped in there once, to get my new driver’s license.  All the rest of my dealings with it have been online.

    I’m sure my impressions of any of these departments would be significantly different if I was on the wrong side of how they interpret their regulations, but, still.

  • JarredH

     For the most part, my experience with  the NY DMV has also been quite pleasant, except for two points:

    1.  When I had to get my NY drivers license after moving here from PA, coming up with “six points of identification” was a real adventure.  Seriously, I had an easier time proving who I was in order to get my passport.
    2.  For whatever reason, my local DMV thought it would be a good idea to use church pews for seats in the waiting area.

  • The_L1985

     …It’s not pronounced “Neh-VAH-duh?”

  • Jim Roberts

    I got my driver’s license without once passing a driver’s test, but, nevertheless, I feel your pain, Fred. Have spent a few hours in the DMV dealing with other stuff.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Serious response: It’s been more than 20 years since I took my driving test in central PA, so I can’t speak to the test centers here in the greater Pittsburgh area, but PennDOT’s driver’s licence centers (where you get your license renewed or your out-of-state license converted) have several convenient locations with early morning, evening and weekend hours, and service is relatively quick (not always friendly); but as PurpleAardvaark notes, they don’t take cash — I figure it’s to prevent theft.

  • Andrea

    Show of hands, whose states do vehicle registration renewal based on birth date, and whose do it based on last name?

  • P J Evans

    In California, your DL is by your birth date, but your car’s registration is based on when it was registered the first time. (At one time, way back when, all the registrations expired at the same time; then there got to be too many cars for that, and they had to spread it across the year.)

  • Geds

     Huh?  I’ve registered vehicles in both Texas and Illinois.  In both states vehicle registration is based on when you do it, then every twelve months, boom, new vehicle registration.

    Drivers licenses are based on birthdate.  In both, I think, but I spent a year and a half in Texas, so I never had to renew.  In Illinois once you hit certain milestones you just need a new license every five years.

  • P J Evans

     In CA,the first issuance of a DL is good for three years from birth date; after that it’s four. But about every third time, you actually have to go in and get a new picture and one of their eye tests. (Last time, with an appointment, it took about 45 minutes, mostly waiting for the picture. And listening to the clerk at the counter patiently explaining to the older woman that no, she really did fail the street test, an officer noticed her, and they can’t change the result.)

  • Andrea

    In both Michigan and Indiana, driver licenses are based on your birthdate. However, Michigan bases the vehicle registration on your birthdate, which never changes, and Indiana bases it on your last name, which not only can change, but in some circumstances can have the date change from year to year even for someone whose name stays the same (when they were adding extra months to the cycle to try to avoid BMV congestion).

  • Geds

    That seems unnecessarily convoluted.  I think the idea of get car – get registered – get re-registered by this time next year is pretty eminently sensible and adding in other variables would just make things more confusing.

    Any idea why they do it that way?

  • Arresi

     Without knowing, if I had to guess, I’d say Michigan does it that way so that you can have driver registration, car registration, and (if necessary) voter registration in a single trip, with the deadline easily remembered yet staggered. I mean, it makes sense to me.  Can’t help you with the last name thing – I’ve never heard of that, and I have no idea why you’d put car registration on a different day from the driver registration. Wouldn’t people forget?

  • Lliira

    In both Michigan and Florida, vehicle registration is based on birth date. This caused problems in Florida for my husband, because they messed up his birth date and wouldn’t believe him when he told them they messed up.

  • Beroli


    In both Michigan and Florida, vehicle registration is based on birth
    date. This caused problems in Florida for my husband, because they
    messed up his birth date and wouldn’t believe him when he told them they
    messed up.

    This is by no means the biggest mistake they made when they issued my last (as in before the one I have now) license, however. No, the really big mistake? It didn’t mention I needed assistance (glasses) to drive.

    I’m quite thoroughly blind without my glasses.

  • Boidster

    Vehicle registration (not DL) based on birth date seems an odd way to do
    it. So if you buy a new car in January, and your birthday is in June,
    is the initial registration only good for 6 months? I hope they
    pro-rate the fees.

    One benefit, I suppose, would be if you own multiple
    vehicles – all registrations can be done at once. Downside is all of the fees are also due at once.

    Nebraska is by original registration date. You get a month sticker for the plate (in the correct color for the year of expiration) and replace it with a sticker of whatever the new color is when you re-register. Every couple of years they come out with a completely new license plate design and everybody has to switch (unless you have a special plate i.e. Disabled Veteran, NU Huskers, etc.)

    I’m fortunate enough to own a ’67 classic, housed in California, which still has its original black-and-yellow plate, and its original 1967 year sticker. My cold, dead hands etc. etc.

  • P J Evans

     We have the colored year stickers in California, also. Someone peeled on off my last car,and I had to have it replaced. They had to have used a knife or something similar, because it peeled off several stickers and the paint underneath. (It was more than three months to the next registration, so they didn’t hassle me about replacing it; it was just the minimum charge and one form.) I hope that some cop ran their plate….

  • Albanaeon

     I had someone run off with the entire plate.  They were kind enough to replace it though… one from the truck they had just stolen.

    Fortunately I noticed this early and called it in.  Considering that it took 15 minutes to convince the cop who showed up I wasn’t calling in stolen plates on the truck I was stealing, I have hated to see what would have happened if I had been pulled over.

  • Ross

     The time my plate got stolen, I found out from my father, when the city police called him and asked if he’d like them to fedex the recovered plate to him (I was in college so the car was still in his name). They’d apparently found it while raiding a chop shop, and since it was a long weekend, I hadn’t been back to the car since before it’d been taken.

  • stardreamer42

    Oops! I misread Andrea’s post as talking about Driver’s License renewal, not vehicle registration.

    Texas vehicle registration is 12 months from the date of last renewal. This is independent from the vehicle inspection renewal, which is 12 months from the date of last inspection. Oh, and instead of having a limited number of inspection stations, any auto shop that can pass the certification and buy the equipment can do your inspection, so there are almost never lines for that.

    Tennessee (where I lived for 26 years) does inspection and registration renewal at the same time, and you have to have your new inspection certificate to get your new registration, but it’s still on a “12 months from the last one” cycle. Which means that smart people get theirs done early in the month, because the lines at both the inspection stations and the registration offices are just awful during the last week of the month.

  • stardreamer42

    Texas does it by birth date. But your license is good for 6 years, and you can renew it once online before you have to have another photo taken, so you only have to go stand in line once every 12 years.

    Side note 1: the lines in all the major cities are appalling. But if you can drive 45 minutes to a location in an outlying area, you can generally waltz right in and out and still be home earlier than you would from the local office. We live near downtown Houston, and generally get our renewals in Huntsville or Tomball.

    Side note 2: sometime in the last few years, Texas has started demanding that you take your glasses off for your photo — even if your license specifies “corrective lenses” and anyone who has occasion to look at your license IS going to see them on you! This is stupid. I thought school photographers were the only ones who pulled that shit.

  • reynard61

    “(…S)ometime in the last few years, Texas has started demanding that you take your glasses off for your photo — even if your license specifies ‘corrective lenses’ and anyone who has occasion to look at your license IS going to see them on you! This is stupid. I thought school photographers were the only ones who pulled that shit.”

    This is done in Indiana too. It’s to comply with the REAL ID Act that was passed in the wake of 9/11. Ostensibly it’s to keep “terr’ists” from being able to get genuine Amurkin (FUCK YEAH!!!) IDs with which to fool around with our Precious Bodily Fluids, or some such. So the “geniuses” in Dubya’s Administration decided that all compliant ID photos would now have to be taken with glasses off — despite the fact that pretty much *all* facial recognition software these days is designed to either take glasses into account.

  • EllieMurasaki

    sometime in the last few years, Texas has started demanding that you take your glasses off for your photo — even if your license specifies “corrective lenses” and anyone who has occasion to look at your license IS going to see them on you!

    Delaware too. What I was told is that the DMV expects that some corrective lenses are contacts.

    I need my license renewed in just about a year, and I do plan on going to stand in line; that way I get a card that doesn’t have a brightly colored block saying I’m going to be twenty-one in negative some years.

  • The_L1985

    FL does the former; AL does the latter.  This made moving from the latter to the former deeply weird to me.  All the registration renewal forms used to go to my parents’ house at the same time; now each person has to wait until his/her birthday.  Last name made things so convenient for so long….

  • Andrea

    I moved from one state to another at the same time that I got married, and not knowing whether they will prorate the fees when I do a name change (it’ll be quite  large change in registration date) is actually one of the main reasons I haven’t gone to the effort of changing my name. (Someone brought up earlier how it seems weird to go by birth date since the car might not be first registered at that time, but at least birth dates can’t change.)

    Proving I lived here was fun too; “everyone gets mail” insisted the BMV worker, but there were no utility bills in my name and I didn’t have a credit card.

  • Ross

     I know it’s a tremendous inconvenience for my parents, as now my dad has to take an extra day off to take my mother in to have her license renewed, since she doesn’t drive and their birthdays are more than a month apart.

  • Isabel C.

    MA’s was hellish the first time I went in, insofar as they required everything but a DNA sample. I remember ranting a lot along the lines of: “Land deed? I’m TWENTY.” and “Electric bill? Like, on paper? This is THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, fools.” 

    Good luck to her! I can only hope they don’t require parallel parking where you are, because that was by far and away the worst part of my training. And I never use it now: I will drive around for an extra block or two and look for a space, instead.

  • P J Evans

     If I actually have to parallel-park, I try to find a spot next to an alley, a driveway, or a red zone/corner. It makes it so much easier to get in and out.

  • stardreamer42

     I look for one where I can go in nose-first and then adjust if at all possible. I used to be a lot better at parallel parking when I was driving a subcompact than I am now when I’m driving a minivan with the Wheelbase From Hell. I will not even attempt to parallel-park the BHV (Dodge Ram 1-ton extended-wheelbase cargo van).

  • Seamyst

    In order to update my address for my credit report, I have to send in a bank statement or utility bill. Paper original; they won’t accept printouts of electronic statements or bills. I mean, really?

  • The_L1985

     Who even gets paper bills anymore?  I haven’t gotten either bill in paper form since 2008!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Are you me? I totally blew parallel parking when I did my driver’s exam :O

  • The_L1985

     I have never parallel-parked on a road that already had cars on it.  I’m too chicken to try to do it in front of another car.  Or behind one.

  • Magic_Cracker

     I can only hope they don’t require parallel … I never use it now: I will drive around for an extra block or two and look for a space, instead.

    Sweet! More spots for us parallists!

  • Jamoche

    I managed to avoid doing the parallel test in Texas because it was August and I’d forgotten my car had working A/C – it drained my engine and, as a beginning driver, I never went places where I might get stuck in traffic so keeping the windows down was enough. It was a ’77 Grand Prix – 17 feet long – and I lived in a Ft Worth suburb; the *only* place you’d ever need to parallel park was on the test itself.

    When the DPS officer said basically “no way in hell am I sitting here in this hot car while you park it” I did remember about the A/C – but I kept my mouth shut.

    Now (*) I have a Mini Cooper and I can park it in the smallest spots on the street.

    (*)well, up to 11:30 last night when someone 2 cars ahead of me decided that since the exit they wanted was blocked off, stopping was a better choice than heading over the Bay Bridge exit, and it became car 3 in a 4-car pileup where we all *almost* stopped in time…

  • Seamyst

    Having just moved to NJ from WV, I can say one positive thing about NJ DMV: they’re open on Saturdays (at least the four in my county), where the ones I went to in WV aren’t. Other than that…

  • Figs

    That’s the very NJ DMV where I last had to renew my registration before I moved to MD. I got there and there was a line out the door. There was a police officer letting people in 5 at a time every once in a while. Once you got inside, you stepped into a snaking line and waited for 15-20 minutes to get up to a counter where someone would give you the form you needed. You then needed to fill out that form and, I kid you not, get back in the end of the line, outside, and wait through it again before being given a number.

  • LL

    What’s so bad about the NJ DMV? Crowded? Inefficient? Slow?

    You mean like all the other DMVs?

  • Arresi

     I don’t know, the one I go to (in Michigan) isn’t that bad. It can get crowded if there are lots of people, sure, but they go through people at a pretty rapid clip, and they aren’t inefficient – they have the important forms readily available, and the staff never seems to have any trouble solving problems. My only complaint is that there aren’t enough tables for people filling out forms. (Except for the testing area.)

  • rrhersh

    I have mixed feelings about how Pennsylvania does things.  They have this system where it is pretty much impossible to go to them directly for anything except drivers license matters.  For everything else, like tags, you go to a local business specializing in this, who typically run couriers to Harrisburg.   I don’t actually know how the system developed, but it is as if  the system were initially so ridiculously user-unfriendly that small businessmen saw it as an opportunity to gather up a pile of applications, make the trip, and stand in line.  Eventually the system evolved to assume that this is the only way it is done.

    On the one hand, I resent in principle the notion that I have to pay a business to perform a routine government interaction.   On the other hand, they provide great service at reasonable prices.  The free marketers are right about some things, and open competition under some circumstances produces good results.  As icing on the cake, these tag & title businesses are generally locally owned, and seem to be the sort of business someone with limited capital can build with sweat equity.

    Whatever my qualms are in principle, in practice I like them so much that even now that I live in Maryland I still use one.  In  Maryland the MVA (what we wacky Marylanders call our DMV) is actually very good:  as painless as can reasonably be hoped.  But there are a few tag & title places.  The place I use is even better than the Pennsylvania ones.  They are competing with free and reasonably efficient, so they have to be fantastic.

  • Randy Owens

    A while back, I learned to parallel park a hearse in numerous rather tight spots (relatively). So now, I can freely scoff at y’all who fear the normal parallel parking. ;)

  • P J Evans

     For me it isn’t so much being afraid of it, as being afraid of the next driver to park, who may not leave enough room to get out without touching him.

  • The_L1985

     I constantly over-estimate the size of my compact car.  This makes me incredibly paranoid about scraping other cars, even if I actually have 18 in of space.

    Parallel-parking drives me absolutely bonkers for pretty much this reason.  I always feel like I’m going to hit somebody and not know it, because I have trouble telling where my car actually ends.

  • ReverendRef

    Out here in OR i hear they do some weird stuff.  People who move into the state must provide an “original” birth certificate or some such thing.  It’s like the DMV was run by the birthers,  I can honestly say, though, that I don’t remember having the hassles other people have told me about.  They did make us all take written tests, however.

     My secretary’s name is Merle.  That’s her official name, it’s not short for anything.  She told me that when she moved out here and went to the DMV, the lady behind the counter insisted — INSISTED — that her name was spelled wrong.

    The DMV in Montana, however, was a breeze.  Went in, showed them my current license from my previous state, signed the form, smiled for the camera, and had my hardcopy license in about 15 minutes.  It was a lot like signing up for a Costco card.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’ve had such an experience. I don’t often go by my legal name, because very few people manage to pronounce it right and yada yada, everyone knows the routine.

    But when I went to the DMV after moving to Arkansas to get an ID, the lady behind the desk insisted for 10 minutes that it was “Kara,” not “Cara,” and my birth certificate was wrong. She was going to refuse to give me an ID until I somehow went back to Texas, back in ’85, and ‘corrected’ my own birth certificate. 

    Luckily, her manager type person stepped in and okay’d my paperwork. 

  • ReverendRef

     What is it with that?  Assuming you know the “correct” way to spell a person’s name when it’s presented to you . . . ish.

  • David Starner

    Oklahoma varied depending on where you lived. In Enid, it was fine. In Stillwater, you didn’t set an appointment for a driving test, you called in between 7 and 8 and if you could get through early enough you could set an appointment for that day. If you could get through. (They did this because their appointment list was getting backed up for over a month.) Meaning that they offloaded their people to other state DMVs.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    British Columbia has driver licencing and auto registration down to an art.

    1. Driver licencing – there’s at least one fast and efficient office in any given city or town (and even more, now that the government vehicle insurance company runs things) where you can do all your traffic fines, driver licencing, etc. I had to renew mine recently and it was shoop! – shoop! inside of 30 minutes.

    2. Registration – since the government insurance quasi monopoly requires you use them for all insurance up to $200k liability, your insurance and registration paperwork doubles for both. And as a result you can do reg. and ins. at practically any licenced insurance dealer. :D Result: Almost nil wait times to get new stickers for licence plates.

  • banancat

    I live in Pennsylvania and the Harrisburg DMV is actually quite fantastic.  It’s large and well-staffed and you walk directly to an information desk where the person will direct you to one of several lines based on your need.  From there you take a ticket with a number and wait in a decent waiting room.  There is some waiting but it goes pretty fast because each line is set up for a different type of request so it’s more efficient.  It was many years and several cities later before I really understood all the DMV jokes.

    I had to parallel park as part of my driving test.  It was the first part of the test and if you failed it, they didn’t even take you out on the street.  I didn’t mind though because they had practice hours where you could practice on the actual spot where they would hold the test.  I parallel parked regularly when I lived in Center City Philadelphia for four years, and I still hate doing it.  I can’t do it if someone is watching or in the car with me to judge.  But it made me really appreciate lot parking and since that time I never complain about parking far away as long as there is actually a real spot to park.

  • FearlessSon

    The Ballard Driving Academy may or may not be funny to people outside Seattle.

    I hope it is the former.  :)

  • Dave Pooser

    When I was taking my first DL exam in MN back in eightymumble the parallel parking was worth something like 10 points and you needed an 80 to pass, so parallel parking was not required. HOWEVER, if you tried and you tapped one of the flags with your bumper, that counted as an accident and you automatically failed. So if you had the rest of it down, the smart play was to not move the car and say done, and then you would get zero points but have no risk of the accident flunk.

    These days I can parallel park an Explorer when I have to, but I still try to avoid having to.

  • Ken

    I’ve not had any DMV problems in IL, though I did have a slightly alarming experience. When you renew your operator’s license, you take a number and wait.  There are different queues with letters (for age ranges, languages, handicapped, etc.).

    So I’m sitting there, and they call out the numbers served: A-184, F-281, D-147, ….  I notice this older gentleman gets up each time a number is called and goes to the front, where they carefully explain that no, he has number G-37 and they just called B-92, and he sits down, and does the same when the next number is called.

    And I’m sitting there hoping he’s just trying to jump the line by being a nuisance, because if he has that much mental confusion with the queues, I would really worry about him operating a vehicle.

  • P J Evans

     I was behind a guy getting a DMV eye test, back when I returned to CA from Texas, and I was really hoping they’d fail him – he wasn’t paying any attention to the person who was giving the instructions and trying to record his answers.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I took my driving test from a private school in Texas, something called Safeway. 

    I learned later that they didn’t actually test us on multiple things that were on the DMV test, like parallel parking. I still have no idea how to parallel park. 

    Also, apparently we were supposed to have driving experience on one way roads, which the school didn’t give us. The only time I’ve ever even seen a one way road was when I was in downtown Houston and it confused the hell out of me. 

  • P J Evans

     Well, TXDot doesn’t believe in one-way roads much, except around Big Cities,even if people are getting killed trying to get on and off the interstate. Inside cities, you might find one-way streets – they can make driving more interesting than you want. That’s why I tend to avoid driving in downtown areas. (One day last month, I saw a guy start to turn the wrong way onto a one-way street. He got even less far than most – there was a motorcycle officer right at that intersection.)

  • Jamoche

    San Francisco seems to split evenly between one-way and two-way streets, which wouldn’t be a problem except that if you’re in an unfamiliar area at night, those sodium lights make it really hard to tell if the center lane is yellow or white.  “One way” sign? What’s that?

  • P J Evans

    The best suggestion I can give you about driving in SF is ‘don’t’.
    (“Where are you?” “I’m at the corner of Market, Do Not Enter, and Do Not Enter”. Really. I was trying to figure out where I was, and that was what the overhead signs said. I was walking.)

  • Dave

     > The best suggestion I can give you about driving in SF is ‘don’t’.


    My “favorite” driving-in-SF moment was when I tried to follow a road on my map, only to discover that it stopped short and turned into a flight of stairs before continuing on as a road a few hundred feet further along.

  • Albanaeon

    Colorado allows you to renew plates online which has considerably lessened stress and hassle for everyone involved.

    Speaking of which, I need to renew my Driver License this year.  It really doesn’t seem that long ago.

  • SisterCoyote

    Awesome! Congratulations… yes, Slackti-youngster works. Congratulations!

    I did alright on the first driving exam, right up to the K-turn. And then my mind went utterly, completely blank. He clarified it as a 3-point turn, and the idea refused to resolve itself into anything sensible. (The second one went better, fatherly dismay at the organ donor choice notwithstanding.)

  • Daniel Martin

    The NJ MVC is actually pretty good now.

    I used to say that McGreevey got two things done before his administration blew up in a sex scandal. I’ve forgotten what one of them was, but the other one was fixing the DMV. He really did – even with the ridiculous number of proofs of ID you now need to get or renew an NJ license, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to deal with.

  • GDwarf

    Ontario’s equivalent of the DMV got privatized a few years back. It went from being a fairly-good service to a complete and utter horror. They took their decades-ahead-of-its-time website down and replaced it with one that doesn’t work with anything but Internet Explorer. It says it works, but then hangs on charging your credit card. It’s also roughly as navigable as a hedge maze at midnight during a monsoon.

    And don’t get me started on the actual physical buildings. They closed half of them, and the only local one they kept open you need a car to get to, since it’s far from all bus routes. Yeah. If you show up, even for an appointment, you’ll be waiting at least half an hour because they have roughly three staff members total and don’t believe in sorting people by how much time they’ll take (one counter just for people who only need a minute would speed the whole thing up immensely). They deny that they’ve instituted quotas, but apparently they actually have, so whether you pass or fail depends, at least in part, on how many other people your tester has passed or failed today. Oh, and they have roughly 1/10th the number of seats they need and, ironically, nowhere near enough parking spaces.

    Then there were the strikes, layoffs, and all sorts of staffing problems caused by the private company refusing to pay its workers more than minimum wage…The whole thing is a hideous nightmare. But it must be good, because it’s privatized!

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Now I’m even more thankful that the guy the BC Liberals brough in to run ICBC decided he liked things so much he argued against privatizing it.

  • Boidster

    We have a street here in Omaha with 6 lanes – 2 in one direction, 2 in a different direction, and one in the middle that changes direction depending on time of day. This was a surprise the first time I drove on it after moving here.  For the morning rush, it goes in the direction of downtown. After the rush, it switches to the other direction. Lights overhead will have a red “X” if the lane is coming at you and a green down-arrow if it’s going your way.

    As an added bonus, it has a couple of hills, making the “is there a confused driver coming the other way” game especially exciting. I don’t know about morning rush since I don’t take that street, but occasionally after work I’ll go that way and most people seem to be afraid to use the center lane. It’s always the fastest lane heading out of town – until there’s a confused driver coming the other way, I suppose.

    The icing on the cake is that the lane – which is marked by broken double-yellow lines on both sides – sort of looks like a turn lane (“chicken lane” we always called them), but both sides of the street in both directions are clearly labeled with “No Left Turn” signs at every intersection. Nevertheless, about 30% of the time I use that street, someone is stopped in the lane, waiting to turn left – sometimes going the opposite direction of the designated flow for the lane at that time of day. I’m not usually much of a honker, but that situation gets me honking.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    We have a street here in Omaha with 6 lanes – 2 in one direction, 2 in a different direction, and one in the middle that changes direction depending on time of day.
    This was a surprise the first time I drove on it after moving here. 
    For the morning rush, it goes in the direction of downtown. After the
    rush, it switches to the other direction. Lights overhead will have a
    red “X” if the traffic is coming at you and a green down-arrow if it’s
    going your way.

    We’ve got that in Vancouver as well, especially on the Lion’s Gate Bridge.