A casual and aggressive approach to driving and the fact that we are killing each other on the roads at the rate of nine every day of the year are just two of the reasons Huddersfield driving instructor RICHARD LORD, 59, welcomes some of the proposed changes to the training of drivers and driving instructors
‘The full driving licence is often a licence to crash. The crash rate for new drivers is scarily high’
AFTER many years of tinkering with the driving test, introducing a non-effective hazard perception test and rumours that people would not be able to learn until they were 18 years old, the Government has finally produced some sensible and cohesive proposals about driver training.
I have had a one-man campaign recently pressing for changes and – frustratingly –they have been ignored. Until now – and I see some of them in the new proposals.
After nearly 20 years teaching learners and potential driving instructors and 10 years involvement with police referral courses for driving without due care and attention offenders (National Driver Improvement Scheme) and speeding offenders I have come to the conclusion that the whole system does need overhauling.
Death and injury through crime is readily reported in the news. The fact that we are killing each other at the rate of nine every day of the year and seriously injuring each other by 10 times that amount is not media attractive and receives little attention.
Children see their parents’ casual and aggressive attitude to driving and parking and driving instructors are then given the task of “getting them through the test and then they can really learn to drive.”
The full licence is often a licence to crash. The crash rate for new drivers is scarily high.
This is why the government introduced the Pass Plus Scheme, which offers new drivers a wider range of experience than that gained up to test standard.
If delivered correctly, the course not only increases drivers’ experience of new situations; it also makes then aware of how narrow their knowledge was up to test standard.
The take-up of this course is sadly very low. In Kirklees a subsidy is available to pay half the course fee, but most of those attending see it primarily as a way of finding cheaper insurance rather than a very useful learning tool.
Disappointingly only a proportion of driving instructors have registered with the council and been trained themselves to take part in this scheme. Maybe this is something new learners should consider when choosing an instructor.
The new proposals set out a pilot scheme for under 17 year olds in schools.
Training in attitude will take place as this is a major causation factor in incidents.
At the press of a pedal, a car can take you from 0 mph to 10,000 BC!
The test, which may be graduated and in modules, will involve fewer manoeuvres and more route finding by the pupil; something which I have always included on lessons and on Pass Plus courses.
Post test courses will encourage the insurance industry and employers to be more selective with drivers.
At last it is proposed that a star rating system is brought in for driving instructors. It is hard for those outside the industry to be aware of the vastly differing standards of tuition available. This is reflected to some extent in prices for driving lessons. It is also reflected in pass rates for instructors.
Although Huddersfield is a difficult area in which to drive and has a low (33%) pass rate, there are instructors consistently achieving more than twice this rate – and few well above that.
Finding a cheap rate per hour is not a bargain. (It stands to reason that there must be instructors with pass rates well below the average).
The new proposals will also look at instructor training. This is a very poorly monitored area with the general public unaware that they may be being taught by a partly qualified instructor.
Most of these instructors will fail to ever fully qualify but are then replaced by more potential hopefuls! There are many stories of pupils paying out lots of money to both partly trained and fully qualified instructors, but who seem to have been taught very little.
So, a review of instructors, their trainers and how pupils are trained and tested is welcome.
However it is up to us as individuals to set good examples on the road once the test is passed and also for employers to put less pressure on their workforce when driving.
Driving should be seen as craft skill in its own right and as a social skill.