Full throt­tle

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On Road - Paul Gover Na­tional edi­tor

PETER Brock learnt to drive when he was in short pants. Young Brock was skid­ding around the fam­ily prop­erty at the wheel of a home-built spe­cial at a time when most of his school­mates would prob­a­bly have been learn­ing to ride their first bi­cy­cle.

Todd and Rick Kelly, two of the cur­rent V8 Supercars stars, learnt to drive be­fore they were eight on a fam­ily prop­erty at Mil­dura.

A pre-li­cence start means you’re not learn­ing the ba­sics of driv­ing— gear changes, turn sig­nals, mir­rors, brak­ing and the dreaded clutch— at the same time as cop­ing with traf­fic and road rules and nasty weather and dark­ness.

Know­ing how to ma­nip­u­late a ve­hi­cle gives a novice the chance to con­cen­trate fully on road­craft with­out wor­ry­ing about hold­ing the wheel or shift­ing gears. It also means the fear fac­tor is lower.

This comes to mind this week af­ter a sur­vey that says some Aus­tralians want the min­i­mum driv­ing age raised, per­haps— ac­cord­ing to South Aus­tralians— to 21.

In my world, chil­dren would learn to drive at 12. They would spend their early years at the wheel of a cheapie junker car prac­tis­ing some­where to­tally safe and care­free, such as a pad­dock.

This early ex­pe­ri­ence would in­clude ba­sic main­te­nance, un­der­stand­ing of the costs of mo­tor­ing— start­ing with earn­ing money for fuel — and the con­se­quences of a crash.

Just be­fore li­cence time they would have in­ten­sive coach­ing from ex­perts, from driv­ers— per­haps even rac­ers— and po­lice, as well as solid book learn­ing on the road rules. There would be a visit to a crash scene, to see the ma­jor con­se­quences of a mi­nor mis­take.

Then a top-qual­ity safe driv­ing course, the pur­chase of a low-pow­ered first car and strict su­per­vi­sion of where, when and how any driv­ing is done.

Then more train­ing for the next 20 years or more, with reg­u­lar safe-driv­ing re­fresh­ers and up­dates in ev­ery new car through the garage.

So far it seems to have worked fairly well— for me.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.