Just a word or two about Keys2Drive. I’m not a fan, let’s get that out in front from the outset. If you actually read the K2D website – which I know damn well no-one does – you’ll find K2D talks about the program in these terms. Yes…..go on….click the link and have a read. You should because if you pay taxes, you’re funding this scheme. The ‘about’ page is correct in one aspect. Due to the supposed audit process behind the funding, the program brings the learner, their supervising driver, and an accredited driver trainer together in the one place with an aim of showing both the learner and the supervisor how the learning process is intended to progress. How that is intended to function, how that dynamic change is meant to take effect in 60 minutes entirely escapes me as a driver trainer.
We driver trainers understand that the cost of professional training – which we provide, if we’re any good – is expensive. Even from my perspective, $60/hour is expensive. That is what I charge in the main. I operate under the banner of a management entity, which lists it’s standard lesson charge as $65/hour. I rarely charge that because I understand the cost factor. If someone books through the management entity and pays $65 then I’m $5.00 better off, bottom line. I know what my business costs are and how much I need to make per day to stay afloat. Keys2Drive is good for us in Queensland because it pays us $74.50 for the time we spend with you. Bonus! But what am I, as a driver trainer, supposed to deliver to you?
As a driver trainer, I’m supposed to teach you – the parent or supervising driver – how to be just like me. In 60 minutes. That is impossible, given that it’s taken me 4 years and 1 vehicle to learn what I know about the almost endless variety of human personality types, the differences between male and female, how to introduce a particular learner to the art form of driving a motor vehicle, how to read their actions and reactions to various scenarios and above all else, how to interact with them in order to get across to them what I need them to understand while instilling a sense of self-confidence, responsibility and willingness to make judgemental decisions. As many people have told me, “rather you than me”, which frankly, is the exact opposite of the approach they need to be taking. Think about it. You’re a parent. Responsible for ensuring the longevity of your off-spring, yet you’re willing to turn them over to a third party when it comes to learning what you already understand how to do, simply because you’re too afraid to take the steps necessary to understand how it’s done. Think about that.
My mother taught me how to drive because my father never drove. Never held a licence, never had the desire to get behind the wheel, all because of a regimental sergeant-major in New Guinea during WW2. It must have frightened Mum shitless to sit alongside me while I drove and learned, but she did it. I think I had maybe 3 professional ‘lessons’ with a RACQ trainer, who took me – as a noobie – into the centre of the Brisbane CBD on the very first lesson. Absolute insanity and I have never forgiven that individual to this day. I don’t believe I’ve been as frightened for my life since, and I’ve had two monumental road incidents in the early years of my driving. Neither frightened me as much as sitting on Wharf Street in traffic, my left leg shaking uncontrollably, while the idiot in the passenger’s seat berated me for riding his clutch and potentially burning out his throw-out bearing.
Learning to drive, in traffic, with every other human being who has ever had to learn what you’re learning, is terrifying for some young people. I get that, which is why I will only ever ask a brand new driver to steer the car, while I ‘drive’ it from my side. I control brake and accelerator, and I watch them. I watch how they react to what they’re doing. I instruct in the 2 acknowledged steering forms, how to physically move the machine, where to look, how the human eye functions, focal vision and peripheral vision, how to read traffic, how to negotiate a roundabout…..the different aspects of driving are almost endless, but all centre on observation. The hardest of all aspects of driving for any new driver to come to terms with. How can any trainer be expected to translate these aspects of what they do to a parent or supervisor in 60 minutes or less? It simply can not be done.
The following wording appears on the website of the Federal Department for Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities – interesting title that. Wouldn’t you think the Federal Department for Transport would be responsible for Keys2Drive?
In 2017, 118 drivers aged 17–25 years were killed in road crashes. People in this age group account for 21 per cent of drivers killed on Australia’s roads yet represent only 15 per cent of the adult population.
Every person, male or female, that sits alongside me in my training car, is treated as an adult, an equal. They are, after all is said and done, risking their life on the road along with me. They deserve that respect. I encourage everyone to make decisions, make judgements about given scenarios and if they deem a given situation unsafe, to take appropriate steps to ensure our safety. I teach people to think critically, to assess, to trust their own abilities. If I need to step in, I will, but I prefer the driver of the car to make the decisions themselves. Depending on the performance they show me, I trust them with both of our lives, and expect them to do what they know is right. A huge call on my part, but one that I feel is essential if I’m to deliver a new driver into the maelstrom of day-to-day traffic. Some might call that the “deep end” approach, but if you want to learn to swim, you need to discover how deep the water is. I’m very happy with my success rate, as are the people I train who now have the privilege of driving on their own.
Okay, pretty long-winded here, but what I’m trying to say is that Keys2Drive is no substitute for one-on-one involvement. I cannot teach you – the supervising driver – to be like me, in 60 minutes. Get to know your off-spring on a closer, more intimate level than you may have, perhaps, have allowed yourself to do. Think about your own experience at learning to drive. Remember how frightening it was, and how you overcame that anxiety. Don’t sit on the passenger side of the car and scream at the driver to ‘BRAKE!….BRAKE!!’ . You’re not doing them any favours, in fact, you’re increasing their anxiety. Lords know, they have enough pressure on them to perform in the current world, both educationally and socially. Keys2Drive has cost the tax-payer – you – more than $22m to date, most of which goes to pay the wages of the few staff in South Australia who manage the scheme. Is 60 minutes in the back seat of a training vehicle too much to commit to, in order that your children be smarter, more astute drivers. You might just learn a thing or two yourself, but in the final analysis, YOU need to understand better what is happening between you, as supervisor, and the your off-spring trying to become a driver. Programs like Keys2Drive are not the answer, but they are an open door invitation to re-training yourself as a driver. Get involved. Personally, I welcome parents/supervisors in the back seat of my car any time. The more often, the better. Engage in the process of learning and you’ll worry a whole lot less about your children once they hit the road as fully fledged drivers.