With tragic and wearisome regularity, we hear or read about another car crash where the victims are young people. Often, the youthful driver is inexperienced; perhaps having a laugh, then – a wet road with rain-washed gravel, a fast bend and sudden driving death. A familiar mix marked by a sad, soggy memorials at the roadside.
We can’t always blame irresponsibility. Certain there are irresponsible young drivers but there are also equally stupid older drivers who should know better. Watch any police-based TV reality series. These are the people who, whilst in the process of killing themselves, deign to take some innocent lives with them.
We’re Not All Like That
It’s not always like this though. You can’t tar all new drivers with the same brush despite the best efforts of car insurance companies. We’ve all been there even if it was decades ago. That euphoria upon passing the driving test signals a sea change in the lives of the successful candidate. Of course, young people are free to do as they please and they can equally as well catch a bus or a train but the car means so much more. It’s ingrained. A car equals freedom.
These days it costs a fortune to pass a driving test. The theory and driving tests are reasonably comprehensive but of necessity lack detail. Any experienced driver will tell you that there are one hundred and one scenarios that a new driver will encounter. When the ‘L’ plates are up most other drivers make allowances. Take the plates off and the newbie is instantly one of the herd and is expected to behave and react as such. No quarter is given.
Is There A Solution?
This is why probationer ‘P’ plates are such a brilliant idea and should be compulsory. The sensible new driver can alert other road users to their inexperience. It makes sense. All beginners should have to display them for a year. The fitting of ‘black boxes’ should be mandatory. If a new driver can demonstrate that they are cautious and responsible, they could be rewarded with faster, lower premiums.
The cars we drive are often fairly powerful and a powerful car in the hands of a newbie is like a bomb waiting to explode. One inadvertent or over-enthusiastic touch of the throttle and it could all end in tears. Why not restrict first car buyers to a one litre, three cylinder engine of, say, 60bhp? Needless to say there will be those who deem this sort of thing as a restriction on freedom of choice but, at the end of the day, what price road safety in a hectic modern world?
The ‘authorities’, a term I use loosely, believe that speed cameras are the answer to it all. Plainly they are not. They offer a solution to one thing and one thing only, or two if you count the raising of revenue. They are not a substitute in any way shape or form for an active police force. They do not monitor driving standards. I realise that this is a theme I keep coming back to but with what I see out on the road on a daily basis makes it a worthwhile topic.
Some of the appalling driving I witness may well be the result of novice error. Much of it is not. Thanks to the absence of cops in cars our driving standards are deteriorating and no amount of cameras will solve that. This is why we should concentrate attention on new or future drivers. Somehow or other a way must be found to enhance driving education; to inculcate advanced driving skills from the outset.
When and how to use technology. How to read the road ahead and understand driving etiquette. How to understand cause and effect. How to develop a sixth-sense for idiots. It is a giant step to pass the driving test but it takes many more giant steps to learn how to drive. Geoff Maxted