Taking Responsibility Learning to Drive

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    Jan 12, 2013
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During the last few weeks I’ve had a varied selection of driving lessons from beginners to the post-test-passing Pass Plus course. The one thing that’s struck me the most has been the lack of responsibility taken – or at least not taken - by most of these drivers and wondering when these attitudes changed and what exactly has happened.

I’ve conducted three pass plus courses in the last two weeks which I think has really made me realise how unprepared new drivers are for life on the road. The Pass Plus course consists of at least 6 hours of driving in conditions mostly different to those they would have come up against in their lessons. Mostly these will be directed towards motorways, country roads, and busy towns they would not have driven in before, thus getting used to dealing with different road marking and layouts.

Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a blanket situation, but I am finding more and more as the years go on, decisions made by learner drivers or new drivers are on the side of dangerous at best and suicidal at worst.

When teaching a completely new driver, for instance someone in their first 5 or even ten lessons, you expect them to rely on you a lot for situations that may occur at short notice, like having to make a quick decision to give-way to an oncoming vehicle. Beyond this, as the learners control and understanding of the vehicle improves you hope that responsibility would start to shift and you’d see a more level headed, confident, safe driver.

Maybe it’s a sign of the new-age upbringing. Parents work more and so have less time for their children. Or maybe it’s just down to a more ‘cotton-wooled’ upbringing children tend to have these days in our towns and cities.

Whatever it is, I can sometimes be pulling my hair out by the end of a lesson due  to the number of times I’ve had to repeat myself yet the information still seemingly hasn’t been received, or acted upon.

The first common situation is not giving enough consideration to oncoming vehicles and the space we need. There was a moment during a Pass Plus lesson – so a new driver, fully able to drive alone – where we were heading towards a bus that was coming around three parked vehicles. The gap left for us as we approached was probably just over half our car size, yet we headed straight for it, no braking. We swerved towards the kerb in an effort to squeeze through. As the situation developed I had to use my brakes and then explain why. The common thought process is that either I will intervene if something goes wrong, or the oncoming vehicle will suddenly get out the way. Bit of a worry when they finally head out on their own.

The second common danger learner and new drivers regularly do is tailgating. It’s funny that I’m almost certain by watching a learner drive I know exactly how their parents drive. Parents just don’t realise that when they drive dangerously on a regular basis – which most do – their children see it as normal driving. I was on the motorway with one last week and at 70mph they were regularly six or seven metres away from the car in front! Unbelievably dangerous, but as much as I explained the need for at least a two second gap and the possible consequences, by the end of the 6 hour course I had to be resign myself to the fact there was nothing I would be able to do or say to change their behaviour. The only thing that will do it will be an accident. And on the motorway, probably a big one.

Remember when you’re learning to drive, YOU must take responsibility as it was your decision to learn to drive this dangerous machine. Your health and safety is your responsibility, and you are the one in control.

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Jason Vines Vines Driving School Dedicated to Professionalism and Improving Road Safety Driving Lessons Sutton Driving Lessons in Sutton Driving Lessons in Guildford

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