I listened today, in amazement, to a caller on a radio phone-in programme, letting the world know how badly she’s been driving for too many years; she thought she was a great driver till she got her motorbike, took some training to use it and realised she needed to be aware of other drivers, cyclists and traffic conditions.

Horror of horrors, the caller couldn’t remember the regulations on driving speeds on particular roads. She didn’t mention road conditions, distances and speeds. It doesn’t say much for the instruction she received nor how the hell she passed her original driving test. Was she so drop dead gorgeous that the examiner was mesmerised…it makes you wonder.

On the basis of this personal experience in more mature life, (She didn’t sound elderly, just a bit divorced from reality) she advised the Driving Standards Agency enquiry into improved driving training, that tests should be re-sat periodically, meaning frequently. Thank heavens the majority of drivers are not on that woman’s planet where ever that is, nor living too near where she might be treating us to her wonderful driving skills.

Yes, the Highway Code has been added to as roads develop, usage alters and more symbols, signs and regulations appear. Surely, keeping ourselves informed is a feature of responsible driving. This aspect, I know, will vary between individual drivers. But not to know the different speeds on controlled roads, not to be aware of other road users, is beyond belief.

On the basis of what I heard, it seems to me,that more attention needs to be given to the standards and skills of driving instructors in the first instance, then how the skills are applied to teaching and practice.


0 thoughts on “HOW DO YOU DRIVE?

  1. How odd – you would think that those would be the critical issues that every driver would be aware of, and it would be the other highway code rules that would be ignored or forgotten.

    Personally, I think that the biggest threat to safety on the roads is driver impatience or a lack of consideration for other people.

  2. I did not hear the interview to which you refer but I am not unduly surprised. A lot, I say again, a lot of drivers are, in my view, temperamentally unsuited to driving a vehicle on today’s roads. You can see it daily with bad tempered driving, accelerating towards stationary objects, jumping red lights, aggressive tailgating, use of horn to signal arrival rather than approach, using mobile phone, and generally trying to copy Top Gear stupidity on public roads.

    The ONLY consideration in driving should be safety.

    It may well be that having to resit the driving test every 5 years or so would be a good thing and weed out a few – probably weighted towards the more elderly – who clearly had deteriorated. I would have no objection to this. But targetting the temperamentally unsuited is more tricky, for most people would be able to perform to standard if put on the spot with a test.

    With regard to instructors, of course any slightly experienced driver can become one if they stumble through the training. This is far from satisfactory also.


  3. When I used to go out with my daughter when she was learning to drive I used to warn her ‘It doesn’t matter who’s wrong and who’s right – just don’t hit anything. And don’t cause anyone else to hit anything either.’

    She tried several different driving instructors before she found one who could really ‘teach’ (as opposed to simply sit with her.) Not all driving instructors are the same.

    I sometimes despair however, that with our obsession with speed cameras, we are missing out on:
    1. The uninsured, never-had-a-lesson driver
    2. The uninsured, already banned driver
    3. The person who believes that driving well beneath the speed limit will somehow earn them brownie points. It doesn’t, and I’ve seen these dangerously slow drivers cause a number of near misses because other drivers try to overtake them.

    I do hope that the powers that be won’t listen to that woman and start re-testing everyone. It’s hard enough to book a driving test at the moment, I suspect the entire system would crash!

  4. I agree with you, the latter point I believe, is one element of her behaviour,that the lady in question, was gilding in other clothing.

    I get confused with all the different no parking lines arrangements in different cities and places, the colours, other than yellow and cream, weren’t around when I lived in the city. I always go and read the local instructions or regulation and use, though finding them can be ‘fun’ deciphering the wording is another skill.

  5. Interesting points. I find men rather than women tend to some of the actions you describe. Women have other features but are deemed by the insurance companies to be safer insurance bets than the testosterone young male; I would widen that male age group.

    I have come across people who have acquired bad habits in past driving, that they contain and control during training, but then they revert to these habits after a test.

    If re-sits are to become a norm in British driving, I am not sure that a 5 year span would be viable for a whole raft of direct and indirect reasons.

    The issue of instructor requirements was raised. The prospective instructor is graded 1 – 6, the average instructor (the majority) obtain a 4. I do not know the criteria assigned to these enumerations. Instructors have not needed their skills to be periodically reviewed, as is required with examiners.

  6. Your latter thoughts accord with my own and I think (I hope) some common sense will prevail about re-testing.

    Often, the speed cameras do pick up uninsured drivers, though catching them physically through that system is another story.

    We suffer the slower driving tourist during the visiting season who drive laboriously slowly on roads that are already built to the level of greatest intolerance, with boards that exhort tiredness can kill; or, don’t be a frustrated driver. These roads are two way traffic, take everything that major roads elsewhere divert on to dual carriageways (we don’t have such luxury) have switchback bends, are positively alpine in parts, and they are our arterial life lines. The variety of skills needed on these roads, they do have to be driven, not zoomed around on, is not helped by sight-seeing gawking. You can’t safely overtake for many miles on these trails. So guess what, yes, you do get tired, you do get frustrated and there is nowhere to stop off!

  7. I have to say that in my experience, those who think they are good drivers are often not. I agree with the wifey – I think that there should be 10-yearly re-tests for driving licences. There are so many folk who think they are great drivers who are actually a real hazard.

  8. That is exactly the point we discussed when we heard the call and the caller’s comments. It must signify a whole raft of other blindnesses the woman has in her driving experience. Again, you have to wonder how she passed her original driving test. It almost sounds like a memorising learning process for the day…another issue.

  9. It is sad that the wifey, not such an old one either, has to overlay her inadequacies into the discussion as if everyone is like her. Thankfully, they are not. We wouldn’t have some of the safest driving conditions on European (may be world wide) roads that we have, if we were all like her.

    There are some happy-go-lucky people who do need a bit of cooling off. Testing even on a ten yearly basis won’t weed them out; many people can perform well on the examination day, the wifey probably did, which is why she passed her test.

    Whether someone is a good driver or not is a general value judgement that I am not in a position to make. I question whether anyone can state categorically that someone is a good driver, even a driving examiner. You can only assess what you experience at any given time.

    There was a time when there were unexamined drivers on the road, they were given driving licences because they were driving before the trained drivers’ license regulations took force. I can only imagine that the rationale for this decision was because post war, there were an awful lot of middle class and upper crust people driving and there were no votes to be gained from alienating them. Others, came out of the forces having driven convoy trucks during war time and what jobs those people had, depended on their driving facility. We don’t have that anymore and anyone who gained a licence before training was required, is unlikely to be driving now, probably, not even still alive. The last person I knew in that category stopped driving around 1988 and died in 1997. This driver never had an accident and knew when it was time to stop driving.

  10. Once people get their driver’s license they become complacent and break more rules than they realize. I am guilty of this myself but do try and make an effort to pay attention.


  11. Yes, we are all guilty of infringements, human nature I suppose. Hopefully, the infringements are not unsafe. Judgement is another issue. Residual and unkown risk, like there is in all walks of life, cannot be planned for and can only be taken account of.

    For example, I have twice had burst tyres. The first caused serious problems the second could have, but by luck I had a weighty guy in the back who kept a wobbling stability (if you see what I mean). I parked on the hard shoulder and got assistance. No physical harm done that time.

    In each of those incidents, there had been careful loading and checking of the cars concerned. The tyres were fully treaded and with the right levels of air. Though in each incident, I was on a motorway, (autoroute) speed was not an issue either, as I was not driving at high speeds.

    However, that woman amazed me with her lack of awareness of other road users and not knowing basic requirements. That was frightening. I also found it insulting that she should assume that all drivers were airy-fairy and unknowledgeable like her.

    Ta Ta :wave: xx

  12. People tend to develop ‘bad habits’ after a while behind the wheel, which a periodical re-test would pick up.

    My Dad drove for many years after I considered that he ought to stop. One habit of his was to drive right beside the centre line, instead of between it and the edge of the road. He would align the front right of the car with the line in order to keep himself straight. Another trick was always driving in the middle lane of the motorway – the so-called ‘cruising’ lane. Eventually he quit driving when he badly crashed his car, writing off both it and the car he drove into. Luckily, no one was injured.

    My sister used to be a reckless driver, invariably in excess of the speed limit. She insisted it was fine because she ‘could control her car’. Speed limits didn’t apply to her, apparently. She actually took the tyre off the wheel going round a corner at speed once.

    I live near one of the worst roads in Aberdeenshire for people being killed in road accidents. Always due to speed, and bad judgement

  13. The A96 and the A9 are horrendous. The first has been improved with three crawler lanes – doh! That’s no improvement for a main arterial road. It’s dangerous and cheap and nasty. The A9 has two crawler lanes south of Inverness. Heaven help us!

    People can perform well on the day, they can prepare to perform well on the day, so there is no guarantee bad habits will be picked up in a short space of testing.

    Sorry to hear about your dad’s misfortunes, I wonder if his ‘techniques’ were developed because of sight changes. Now, that might well have been picked up in preparation for a test.

    Yes, people do get blasé about what they can do with their driving skills. Usually it is accident or governance of some sort that deals with it, not a re-test. Accident is a dangerous solution for everyone. People ordered by courts to be re-tested don’t necessarily become safe road users either.

    There are so many reasons for accidents, mental health at any given time, the use of over the counter and prescribed drugs. Illegal ones are another issue. All could affect what drivers can do or not do. How do you deal with the legal meds?

    There are people with medical conditions who lose licenses immediately they are diagnosed. This is appropriate. If the condition is temporary, with medical approval, they can be re-licensed to drive. (My brother was mis-diagnosed and spent months trying to get back his license from DVLC, once the mistake had been admitted).

    I think there will have to be a mixture of proposals with a keen concentration on the ability and standards of instruction, re-assessing instructors’ abilities periodically in the same way examiners are reviewed, also the levels of theory and skills training passed on to the learner driver must reflect improvements. I can think of other areas of driving experience which would support skilled driving, but it would take too long to go into here. My ideas would mean massive changes to a range of regulations. I am sure many aspects will be considered by the DSA.

    Personally, I was glad to hear the failure rate at first test was about 46%, though the DSA thought this was too high a failure rate and reflected badly on instruction. Too right, but rather the failures than inappropriate licensing. Another good reason for looking at the standards of instructors and their instruction.

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