Wednesday 11 August 2010

They don't teach you that...

The training to become a driving instructor is tough and the amount that you have to absorb is considerable, which probably explains why only 30% of those who start out manage to qualify .  However the one thing that they don't teach you is how to cope with and react to the success or failure of your pupils when going for test. 

While you are out on test the poor instructor is either left at the test centre worrying about how you are doing or sitting in the back watching - and worrying about how you are doing!  I don't know which I prefer but probably sitting in the test centre?  Usually there is at least one other instructor going through the same hell as me.

Sitting there on edge, watching for my car to come round the corner at the end of the road, heading for the likely final manouevre, the bay park, before the test is over and the result is known.  Then, standing by the entrance watching (or listening) for the tell-tale signs.  Will it be a big smile, a scream of delight or a hung head?  And believe it or not, sometimes I can't tell.  And whatever the result and whatever the reaction, I go through it too.  If you pass, I am over the moon, for you and for me.  You have achieved what you have set out to achieve and I have helped you to get to that point. 

If you fail I am genuinely devastated for you.  I admit I find it difficult to remain detached as learning to drive is a journey that we have literally been on together.  I have been known to shed the odd tear as well because I know how much passing means to you.  It is at this point that meaningful words usually fail me.  I can,and will, talk incessantly on the journey back from the test centre but I recognise that none of it really has any effect and it is not until the emotion has died down that we can begin to look at, and understand, what went wrong.  That's why the post-test debriefing by the examiner is so important for you and me.  Without it, we don't really know where to start so always ask for it and request that your instructor be present (if they are not already). 

I also understand the desire to give up and the belief that you'll never pass.  No matter how true that feels at the time, everybody has the ability to pass, even Ozzy Osbourne (and it took him 18 attempts!)  So all my words and sympathy if you do fail are really for one purpose - it's to say "Don't give up" - keep on until you do pass; it will be worth it.


Tuesday 3 August 2010

Mobile Phones

I see so many people talking on their mobile phone whilst driving!  I've seen people sitting at green traffic lights holding up traffic whilst answering text messages.  I've even seen a guy riding a moped one handed whilst texting.  In spite of all this I believe that the law in relation to using mobiles whilst driving was ill-conceived.  What....!!!!!????  You cannot be serious?  Well, I am - and this is why.

Is there much difference between using a mobile phone, adjusting the radio, chatting, tending to the children in the back, reading, shaving, putting on makeup, eating, drinking, dozing or eyeing up the 'talent'?  All of these (and the list is not exhasutive), whilst driving, are potentially dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible.  If your eyes and mind are not on the road, then you are driving carelessly.  By indulging in any of these non-driving activities, you are putting your own and other lives at risk.  Your driving licence does not give you the right to do that.  I am simply not interested in those who claim that they are as safe whilst doing those things as when they are not.  Complete and utter rubbish!  No-one can be totally single-minded when driving and it is unrealistic to expect it but to clutter the senses with more than is absolutely necessary is madness.

The law of 'careless driving' or 'without due care and attention' covers all of these and more besides.  The problem is not, and never has been, about having a suitable law in place, it is to do with applying it and ensuring that the punishment is severe enough to discourage people from doing it.  It has never been that difficult to prove careless driving - if you run into the back of someone, the results speak for themselves and certainly where a mobile phone is concerned, the technology actually makes it easier!  You can check if someone was on the phone! 

The solution, in my opinion, is easy.  If you cause any kind of traffic incident, i.e., being involved in, or causing an accident, whilst indulging in one or more of these activities then you should lose your licence until you can prove that you can drive with due care and attention.  If that necessitates having a driving test, then so be it.  If you choose to take the risk then you have to live with the consequences, whatever they may be.