I feel that this subject has been ignored for way too long, and the relevant people in Government and Transport sectors have something to answer for. From the point of view of a parent and also being someone who can remember (if somewhat vaguely!) the process of getting my own licence, I believe the system used is inadequate. I am basing my opinion on my own experiences and the opinions of many young people I speak with.
When I sat for my learners permit test, I could not believe that there were only ten questions to answer! Ten questions to get right and I can legally drive with someone in the passengers seat trying to tell me what to do! Come time to sit for my provisional licence and oh no, 30 questions and a drive around the block! Show the examiner what he wants to see, reverse park, hill start with the handbrake, use turn signals etc and you’re home and hosed! Now legally allowed in a machine that kills hundreds of people every year! Now before someone jumps in and sets me straight, I know things have changed for the better in the handful or so of years since I was there (ok, two handfulls) and I am only speaking about Australia here but I can’t see how this system should have ever been so easy.
I shudder everytime I hear of young people being killed in road accidents, of which there has been alot in the last couple of weeks, but I also wonder if more was done to prepare these young drivers for what they may encounter out there on our roads would there be less of these tragedies occuring? Unfortunately alot of the time speed seems to be a contributing factor in these accidents. I know and I think alot of people will agree with me that at the age you are let loose on the roads you think and feel like you are invinsible. Speaking from a male perspective here, I am not sure whether the fairer gender feels the same or not. This is a dangerous combination, let loose in a motor vehicle and that feeling that it will never happen to me. What I’m trying to say is that you will never stop young people being young people, be it through peer pressure or the adrenalin rush or whatever reason they are still going to flirt with danger no matter how many times you tell them not to.
Would educating people what to do if they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation improve their chances? I believe so. I know I stepped straight out of the driving school car and into my mothers V8 Ford Fairlane. Had I succumbed to the (strong) desire to push that car to it’s limits in the first few weeks (or months for that matter) of getting my licence I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing this today! Say for instance a wet road, limited slip diff ( which the Fairlane had ), an itchy right foot and before you know it you’re sliding around all over the shop ( and probably into one!). Would being able to reverse park or do a hill start have helped anyone then? I think not! I’m not saying I didn’t do things in the car I know I shouldn’t have but I was allways mindful of bringing the car back in one piece, mum loved that car! Young people are allways going to push the barriers with anything, driving being no exception. Being educated on how to react to a variety of situations is the key.
These days our cars are also alot more powerful in standard form than days gone by and yes they have features like ABS and Airbags etc making them safer, but also the number of cars on our roads has increased which in my way of thinking increases the likelyhood of finding yourself in trouble. Defensive driving, watching what everyone is doing on the road, how to react when you find yourself losing control of the car, tips on how to keep your car in a safe condition, emergency braking etc etc, that’s what young people need to know about I believe.
Some of you may think I’m being a fuddy duddy and trying to take the fun out of driving, but I can tell you I have been modifying cars all my life and love nothing more than to have a healthy V8 or Turbo 4 or whatever you like under my right foot. I am currently building a replica VK SS Commodore which once fininshed will have around 300 rear wheel horsepower. That car will be awesome to drive but at the same time there is a time and place to really get into it, on the dragstrip! In my opinion, my life and the lives of the people around me are enough to make me stop and think about doing things I know I shouldn’t be doing on the street.
I would love to hear what other people think on this subject, so please if you come to this blog and have an opinion, let it be heard!