LEARNING TO DRIVE

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pay attention and learnI’ve not written here for some time, basically because I’ve not felt the need to. This tome is a repository of information, not a social media outlet. I write here when an issue raises my attention and sadly, one such has again attracted my attention and spurred the need to write.

This post is aimed primarily at parents, but also at those who pay their own way through the process of dealing with people like me. Professional driver trainers. Under Queensland law, I am allowed to triple-time a maximum of 10 standard hours, or 600 minutes of a new driver’s logbook. You do 10 hours with me or any accredited driver trainer, and that 10 hours or 600 minutes, becomes 30 hours, or 1800 minutes in your logbook. If you’re a 16- or 17-year-old, most likely your parents are paying for my services, which I like to be generous with where time permits me. Everyone I go out with winds up with more than a simple 60-minute session on every occasion. Whomever is paying for my services will be paying something in the vicinity of $800 for those 10 hours, often much less…..that’s another issue which I won’t go into here.

I’ll be brief – and this is aimed directly at the intending learner driver. If you want to learn to drive and someone other than yourself is paying for that benefit, do that person or persons a level of honour by making a reasonable attempt at that learning. Driving is a learned activity that only comes with time and practice. Lots and lots of practice. What I provide is the base development of the necessary skills.

  • Observation
    • the ability to scan and observe.
    • understand what is being observed and utilise the information gathered.
    • read and understand road markings and road signage.
  • Articulation
    • the ability to understand the vehicle you oversee.
    • how it moves and what makes it go.
    • how it reacts to what you do with it.
    • what is acceptable and unacceptable in how you manipulate the machine you are responsible for.
  • Understanding
    • of that base anxiety that you feel – that ALL of us feel regardless of age or experience whenever we enter the road.
    • of the expectations of other road users regarding how you manipulate the vehicle you are responsible for.
    • that the vehicle you are responsible for, if disrespected, WILL kill you, and others who might become involved in actions you initiate.
  • Interpretation
    • of the road rules which Prep L gives you a passing glimpse of.
    • of the behaviours of other drivers.
    • of circumstances that you WILL encounter.

I am finding, year after year in increasing numbers, people who apparently want to learn to drive, but only approach a motor vehicle every few months and only when pestered to do so by parents or guardians or shamed into doing so via peer pressure. Yes, I understand that school is important, and the education system does not consider that you have a life beyond its strictures of assignments, attendance, study, etcetera. However, if you are wanting to expand that learning into the REAL world by taking charge of a motor vehicle, and the responsibility of holding a driver’s licence, then you absolutely MUST make time and TAKE time to practice a learned activity which very simply can end your life if not properly studied and understood.

Consider the person(s) who have paid for my services on your behalf. A specific circumstance comes to mind. A young man who I met in September 2023, never sat in a driver’s seat, never taken control of a motor vehicle. Over a series of three, so-called, “Start Safe” packaged lessons, the young man gained a rudimentary understanding of the movement of a motor vehicle. That ‘package’ cost his parents $200.00, which frankly is cheap in the current economy. I dealt with that young man again today, 3 months after last seeing him. He HAD NOT DRIVEN a motor vehicle in the interim. His retained knowledge was minimal, his anxiety as high as when we first met. The money his parents outlaid in September can be said to be all but wasted, not to mention my time and expertise. This is the issue I face continuously, especially at the end of the school year. People who might have wanted to learn to drive mid-year, attained a learner’s licence, engaged in that initial understanding of how a machine moves, how to manipulate it, what the road is really like, the behaviours of licenced drivers and the ad-hoc circumstances they are likely to face…….then let all that learning atrophy.

Holding a driver’s licence is a privilege, not a right. The process of learning to drive and successfully attaining a driver’s licence is – for the young driver – a rite of passage. You, the new driver, are passing from dependant to independent. You earn the privilege to take a motor vehicle and use it to come and go as you please while ensuring you do not negatively encounter other drivers or cause negative encounters. In short, you have learned, hopefully, how to survive in an environment we human beings were never intended to enter. The two most important lessons any new driver can learn are:

  • you can die behind the wheel of a car.
  • you can cause others to die through how you drive your car.

My job is simple. Ensure that you understand those two lessons and how to NOT get into situations where those events might occur. I can’t do that if YOU, the person wanting to learn, doesn’t practice what I show you. I don’t teach people to drive, I supervise their learning and correct inadequacies. If you don’t practise what you learn from me then the cost of my services is wasted, your time is wasted and my time showing you, is wasted.

Don’t waste your time, your parents (or your own) money and above all else, don’t waste my time. I would much rather be dealing with people who genuinely want to learn, will practice and become efficient, consciously competent drivers.

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