I have just heard on the radio about a campaign to teach learner drivers about the dangers and consequences of drink driving and for another section to be added to the driving test which focuses upon drink driving.
The consequences for drink driving can be catastrophic. Not only for those killed or seriously injured, because of the decisions to drink and drive made by other road users, but also for the family and friends left behind who have to live with the consequences every day.
Any campaign which raises the profile of drink driving is a good thing. Drink and drug driving, along with the consequences for speeding, peer pressure, distractions such as mobile phone use, seat belt use, risky overtaking and so on should already be part of the learning to drive syllabus.
HOWEVER, THERE IS A PROBLEM.
The current learning to drive process is flawed. Flawed because, providing you meet the criteria, anyone can teach someone else to drive as long as it is not for payment. Hence, mums and dads teaching their children to drive. Not a problem if you are a good driver because the example you set, when you are behind the wheel, is the model your children are going to use. Although, I recognise for some, the economics of learning to drive means this may be the only way for their children to learn to drive.
Learning to drive with a driving instructor is a choice made by many. However, understandably, clients want to pass their driving test as cheaply and quickly as possible. This is of course understandable, but it is also the problem because you are not learning to play the piano but learning how to drive a car safely on different types of roads, in different traffic conditions, in different weather and times of day.
The problem of cheap driving lessons is red heron. If an instructor offers discounted prices that is literally their business.
However, there is a problem with the pressures placed on learners, by parents and friends, to pass their tests in the quickest possible time. For example, I can remember some friends telling me how their daughter had passed her test first time after only ten hours of lessons. The test centre in question had 2-3 small roundabouts, a couple of sets of traffic lights and was mainly rural. So what happens when she drives on her own along roads which are busy, with road layouts she had never dealt with before. Not to worry…….she can rely open her ten hours of experience.
· Minimum learning to drive time of at least 40 hours with an approved driving instructor
· Formal syllabus which has to be signed off
· Syllabus including modules on drink and drug driving, speed, risk taking, peer pressure and so on
· Graduated driving licences to be introduced with curfews and limit of passenger numbers
Having a fixed learning period will create the time for trainers to properly introduce drink and drug driving to their learners as well as addressing other high risk factors which kill road users every year.
If you cannot afford to learn to drive…..then don’t. There are other more sustainable modes of transport to consider.
Driving, or being a passenger, is probably one of the most dangerous activities we do everyday and yet we take it for granted. It is not just driving…….if you get it wrong it can have fatal consequences.
CREATE TIME FOR LEARNING.