Life lesson for Learners
DRIVING a car is one of the most dangerous things most of us do in our lives. It’s far more dangerous than we think, so it pays to be prepared when we are old enough to hold a licence. By law we are allowed to hold a Learner’s Permit for a car when we turn 16. All we need to do is read the laws of the road and pass a fairly simple test; but the Learner’s Permit is also the beginning of a lifelong journey that will take us on all sorts of adventures to exciting destinations. Along the way we will use our cars for many purposes, from driving to and from work, taking the kids to school, going home to see the folks, getting away for a weekend, or heading off on a longer trek on our annual holidays. Whatever it is we do in a car, danger is never far away and we have to be prepared when it inevitably crosses our path. Being properly prepared for a safe life on the road should begin the moment we think about getting a Learner’s Permit and it shouldn’t stop until the time we hand in our licence in our dotage. At the beginning, most of us simply think about getting our licence so we can begin to enjoy the freedom driving gives us, but getting the Learner’s Permit, and the licence that follows, are just the beginning. Getting the right start is important — it sets the path we will be able to safely follow for the rest of our driving lives. Most young drivers turn to their parents first, but though parents can — and should — help in the education of their children, it’s best left to the professionals. Even though many parents are experienced drivers, they are not necessarily best-qualified to teach their kids to drive. Driver training is far more than turning the ignition key, selecting first gear and driving away, but that’s essentially what driver training was when many parents were taught to drive. Today, with the dense traffic we have to contend with, together with faster, more powerful cars and a multitude of laws, we have to be much better equipped to handle the everyday dangers we will face. That preparation is best provided by a professional trainer who can advise on things such as proper awareness on the road, use of mirrors, reading traffic dangers, as well as the mechanical processes of actually operating the car. Vicroads requires leaner drivers to have 120 hours of behind-the-wheel practice before they go for their driving test, and that’s where mum and dad can come in. Parents can help their kids to become safe drivers by spending time with them in the car, letting them drive in all sorts of conditions, not just to get the minimum 120 hours Vicroads demands, but to acquire as much experience as possible so they will be equipped to drive safely once they pass the test. Learning to drive never really ends, and should never end, because the dangers are always lurking and they are always changing.