Are You A Gambler?

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It’s been a while since I’ve added anything new to my driver training website. Mainly because I don’t like repeating myself unnecessarily especially in text. However, events of the past few weeks have given me cause for thought, hence, what you’re about to read.

Learning to drive, indeed, driving in general, is something that we can all accomplish. As human beings we have an innate ability to learn new tasks, especially those tasks that involve repetition, dexterity, muscle memory. To learn to perform any task well we need to practice the actions and disciplines involved. When one considers that a task – like driving a vehicle amongst many other vehicles on roads that are often in less than optimum condition, those other vehicles being piloted by other human beings we do not know the skill levels of, the personalities or current mind-sets of – can be likened to playing Russian Roulette, surely any rational human being would think carefully about their approach to learning that task…..or as some choose, not be involved at all. If given a choice between a 1-in-6 chance of blowing one’s brains out, and not doing so, only the individual who has 100% irrefutable knowledge of which chamber the bullet was in would ever pick up the revolver.

So why is it, I am often driven to ask myself, that people of both genders, usually in their mid-to-late twenties, form the opinion that “it can’t be all that hard if a 16-year-old can do it”? Why, if anyone between the ages of 16 and 25 must (under Queensland legislation) undertake a minimum of 100 hours of logged, guided practice under suitable supervision, would someone aged 26 and upwards think that they are immune from the situations and experiences that ALL learner drivers come across, forming the opinion that 4 or 5 drives with a trainer will be sufficient to secure a driver’s licence at the end of a Practical Driving Assessment?

As a driver trainer I come across such people at least once or twice EVERY week. The unintended arrogance of these people staggers me. I personally don’t care what an individual’s life circumstances are, or how positive their mind set might be, or how much they ‘think’ they know about staying alive and out of trouble on the roads. Unless the individual can show me that they:

  1. Have a thorough and complete understanding of the regulations governing traffic behaviour.
  2. Can pilot a motor vehicle through traffic of any volume or intensity without altercation with other drivers.
  3. Can do so in a calm, authoritative, alert and situationally aware manner.
  4. Have some level of understanding of the machine they are in control of, it’s limits and abilities.

I WILL do my level best to discourage said individuals from engaging in a Practical Driving Assessment.

I recently had a 28-year-old tell me that he felt good behind the wheel, after not having driven anything for 12 years, and had already booked a ‘test’ for a week hence, and if that test didn’t work, he’d simply learn from that failure what he thought he needed for the next ‘test’ and book another one ASAP, until he was successful. The financial aspect aside – each ‘test’ if using a trainer vehicle will cost in the vicinity of $250.00 – this type of attitude only serves to confirm for me that as a species, we are inherently lazy and only too willing to blithely put a loaded pistol to the head, not even understanding whether the cylinder has 1, 6 or no bullets in it.

I am loathe to write this, but I feel the need to. My purpose in training drivers (I am NOT a driving instructor; I train drivers to stay alive and out of trouble) is entirely selfish. I don’t want to see the name of anyone I’ve been associated with being reported as a fatality on the road. 299 people died on Queensland’s roads during 2022. The worst number in a decade. A huge percentage of those fatalities could and should have been avoided if the individuals concerned understood risk. Every time we enter the roads, we take on a level of risk. Claiming that the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on how people assess risk is, to me, a cop-out. We are ALL….every last one of us….responsible for our actions when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. We can NOT rely on other drivers following the rules, or being aware of us, making excuses for our behaviour or as is blatantly obvious to me, believing that we are perfect and everyone else isn’t.

I don’t care what your life circumstances are, or what is pushing you to get your licence ASAP. If you’re not prepared to put in the yards, to take advice, to practice, practice and practice some more, then I don’t want your business. My time is valuable to me. I hate wasting it on fools and gamblers. If you want to gamble with your life, don’t involve me. I will NOT be involved in providing the firearm and bullet just so you can spin the cylinder and put the thing to your head.

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