Driving Lessons

New Graduated Licence Proposals – A different “School” of Thought

Yes, we need to do something to improve accident statistics for 18 – 24 year olds behind the wheel. In my opinion there is no question the current system exposes young and new drivers – and others using the road -  to extreme danger. Given  that drivers in the above age group account for only one twentieth of all driving miles  U.K. wide, however are involved in one fifth of fatal or serious driving accidents, you don’t need a degree in statistics to work out something is wrong.

Proposed measures, aimed at a graduated licence, could still see learners begining driving lessons at 17, however they would be required to reach 18 before gaining a licence.

During the learning process one hundred hours of supervised driving and at least twenty hours of night driving. Additional restrictions such as a night curfew, and not being allowed to carry passengers are being mooted.

Practice Makes Perfect

Surely there can be no doubt that practice improves performance? As long as driver training remains a financial consideration i fear the public will still look for the cheapest way possible to gain a licence. Cheap is not always good. Look at the take up for the Pass Plus scheme. Less than 1.5% of newly qualified drivers take this course – despite never having previously driven on a motorway.
Instructors explain the merits of post test training and pupils (or parents) decline the opportunity in droves. Maybe they feel having passed  the new driver can be further trained by parents, or maybe they think they will just “go in at the deep end.” Whatever, the public rejection of driver training other than the bare neccessities needed to pass a test, must surely contribute to the aforementioned casualty rate.

 National curriculum for Schools

Personally, i am a huge advocate for bringing driver training into the shool curriculum. For one, it would remove the “budget licence” mentalliity that persists currently. Learners can get there in their own time. They can enter a group learning environment where experiences can be shared. They can be given more thorough attitude training and psycometric testing. They can leave school with an increasingly essential credential for the job market. How many jobs now state “driving licence essential”?

Education Rather Than Restriction and Regulation

The current proposals will no doubt be seen as restrictive by many, indeed they are just that. With an effective learning programme, fit for our current times, we may find that its also very much more cost effective. Consider the costs of policing and administrating such proposals. Would the expense not be better used to make our new drivers well educated, careful, responsible and skilled road users?

Jalal Sohrab and The Big Red B.M.W. – A Case Study in Risk Awareness

Jalal Sohrab and The Big Red B.M.W. – A Case Study in Risk Awareness

Jalal had turned eighteen and had just passed his driving test some two months previously. It was the defining moment of a new stage in his life. He was on his “road to independence.” He looked down from his parent’s third floor apartment at his prized possession, his big red B.M.W., which he had named “Mad for it!” Jalal’s friends had abbreviated the name somewhat, and its street name was now reduced to the acronym, “M.F.I.”  This had displeased Jalal somewhat, as there was no doubt his friends were attempting some mockery, and besides, Jalal loved the car like nothing else mattered.

The first heavy snow of winter steadily began to descend from the thick grey sky above, landing, gathering, and covering M.F.I. like the icing on a Christmas cake.  Jalal noticed the roads had already started to coat a few inches white. It would make driving tonight a bit more exciting, and after all, M.F.I could handle it, he thought. Jalal had to be at work in the parcel sorting office for 4.30p.m; and it was edging past 4.15p.m. as he glanced at his watch. Cutting it fine was his trademark, and anyway, it presented him with the opportunity to put his foot down a bit and enjoy M.F.I’s powerful response. Keys in hand, Jalal scoffed the last of the laden plate of food his mother had left him and set off.

The big heavy amp Jalal had installed in the boot of M.F.I. powered the sound system up to max, he keyed the engine into life, and slammed into first gear.Clutch to bite, he gunned the accelerator and the front wheels spun and squealed in trademark Jalal manner. He was off!

Scenario 1

Jalal arrives at work just in time, receiving a warning look from his supervisor that spoke of his frustration over Jalal’s timekeeping habits. Jalal is excited and elated to have made it to work on time, despite the adversity of road conditions.  Regardless of a few slips along the way as long as he arrived for work on time his supervisor can say nothing against him. Tomorrow, Jalal thinks he will attempt to shave yet more time from his journey.

Scenario 2

Ten minutes into his journey to work Jalal Sohrab had lost control of M.F.I.  He had braked far too late for road conditions, and had skidded out of control. He crashed, smashing  into a vehicle in front, which had been stopped at traffic lights. He was taken to hospital, shocked, and subsequently suffered chronic whiplash injury. The occupants of the vehicle in front, a mother with her two children in the back of her car, were also injured. The children screamed and cried uncontrollably amongst shattered glass. Their mother  distraught, panic stricken. They were  taken away by ambulance and also subsequently suffered whiplash injury. The psychological damage would evidence itself later.  A pedestrian, who had been walking across the road at the “green man” signal, had narrowly escaped being hit by the forward propulsion of the mother’s car on impact from Jalal’s B.M.W. it was he who aleted the emergency services.

Jalal had never thought of himself or others as at risk through his actions, but any “Really Good Driving School” instructor would have recognised that risk was apparent even before Jalal had set out of his family home.

Now, my pupils, your job is to list all the events and attitudes that made Jalal Sohrab an accident waiting to happen, where he was at risk, and what also could have happened through his actions.
Describe how Jalal’s life –  post accident –  may be affected.
Think about the victims- they are victims -and how their lives could be affected by this incident.
How might the mother feel about Jalal?
How would you feel if you were Jalal?

Now look at scenario 1. Describe if you can see any parallels between Jalal’s actions and attitude, and what your own may be.

Scenario 2 may help to explain why insurance for young, new, and especially male drivers is so costly. I don’t mind admitting that I was a young driver once, and probably took risks both knowingly and unknowingly. For instance, I would not have realised that having a lot of weight in the boot of my car could have really had an effect on the steering and front wheel grip. Oops! Gave an answer away there! See http://www.greenflag.com/help/driving-in-europe/loading-your-car.html for loading advice. That said, I would have known that in adverse weather I would take extra precautions – not giving you an answer this time!

At Really Good Driving School we care passionately about our pupil’s safety, and are always happy to offer further training and advice.
New drivers have a one in five chance of being involved in a serious driving accident during their first year of driving. 26 per cent of road accidents involve at least one young car driver aged 17 to 24. We don’t want any of our trainees to be in the above statistic. We believe education can help. Please have a go at the above case study. Bring your answers into the car on your next lesson to discuss with your instructor. Let’s see how risk aware you are, and where we can help you.