“THE STAR”, Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - PAGE 33
A regional partnership with the TAC and the Victorian Government.
Learning to learn on the roads By Jacob de Kunder THE day I got my driving licence I could not wipe the smile of my face. I drove about six hours straight and couldn’t get over my new found sense of freedom. The 24 months I held that little plastic Learners Permit before that day was, however, some of the most important driving I would ever do. Effective learner driving is necessary to create safe drivers on our roads but it’s not always easy with white knuckled parents and under confident teenagers. Robert Bowering from Coastal Driving School on Phillip Island said new drivers need to take things slow. “The learner needs to get familiar with the car before they even turn the key,” he said. “Correct position in relation to pedals and wheels is vitally important. “You have to be able to see all the dials and mirrors correctly and before the student drives off, they should know all the controls.” Putting a student into a car with a nervous parent straight away is a bad choice. “A lot of the really new drivers I get are because mums and dads don’t want to go out on the road,” Mr Bowering said. “And if there is that much anxiety on behalf of the supervisor, it’s going to be translated over to the student and then you’ve really got a bit of a recipe for a problem and arguments, and that can put a new driver off. “Once the student is confident on the road with a driving instructor they will be ready to jump in the car with Mum or Dad.” It is recommended new drivers start driving in low traffic areas like industrial estates on weekends or empty housing estates. That will then open up the opportunity to extend on to residential streets and roads, and eventually highways and freeways. Leongatha Driving School’s Greg Goss agreed new drivers should ease into the world of driving but first make a big deci-
sion. “First of all they have got to decide whether they want to learn automatic or manual,” he said. “This depends what their parents’ car is because it’s no use going manual if they haven’t got anything to practice in.” The Australian Automobile Association’s key2drive program is another great way to start the driving journey. This allows the parents and driver a free lesson with an accredited driving instructor in their local area. “It’s a good opportunity for the parents to see how the instructors teach and also brings back a few memories,” Mr Goss said. “This teaches them right from the start the right ways.” When taking the driving test, Mr Goss said concentration and observation was the key, just like in day to day driving. “We want to be checking three things: our three mirrors, we want to be checking our speed and we want to be checking the signs,” he said. “They all paint the picture for you but most of the kids get in there and they go into zombie mode and go straight ahead. They’re concentrating so hard they forget their three mirrors and forget their speed and the signs.” Once the big test day has come and gone, and you have your red P plates displayed proudly on your windshield, the learning isn’t over. You will come across situations you haven’t before while learning, but you will hopefully have the skills to avoid dangers and drive safely. “They have to still go back to their learning and remember the things that got them there,” Mr Goss said. “They can’t go and say ‘I can go flat out now, I can do what I want’ because that’s not the case. You have to respect other road users.”
Here to help: Greg Goss from Leongatha Driving School is a participant in the Australian Government’s keys2drive program for new drivers.
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