Have you, or has someone you know just got their Learners Permit from Vicroads? (Part 1)
What now? Where do you start? It can be very scary for a parent of a new Learner driver. Do you remember when you were a learner? Probably A LOT has changed since then. A lot of parents remember a time before logbooks. Some even tell me stories of driving to the police station and taking the local cop around to the corner shop to buy a pie and when they got back, that was it, licence test done! Or the old “Well, you made it here, so that’ll do!”. But a recent ad campaign by the TAC highlights the influence parents have on the driving habits of their children, and it starts a long time before they get their Learners Permit!
So you or your son/daughter/significant young person has passed their learner permit test. They have answered a series of questions about general road rules with a heavy focus on safety and ‘the powers that be’ have determined they are ready to get behind the wheel of a vehicle – more specifically, YOUR vehicle. Well, there is some very good news for you. Statistically, Learner Drivers are the safest drivers on the road. You are more likely to have an accident when you are driving, than when they are driving. And in the case of an accident, you are more likely to be injured or harmed in an accident with an experienced driver than a learner.
So take some solace in that, and remind yourself of it occasionally on this learning journey. It is a proven fact.
This is because the way a learner driver drives is usually going to be much more cautious than an experienced driver. They also have the benefit of your years of experience in understanding the behaviour of other drivers AND two sets of eyes firmly fixed on what is happening on the road. A lot of experienced drivers often don’t even see the need for one set of eyes on the road these days!
There seems to be two approaches that parents take to teaching their children to drive. First, there is the overprotective, micro-managing parent, who explains every step, makes the learner stop at roundabouts, won’t let them drive over 40, won’t let them change lanes until they say its safe and consequently makes every decision on behalf of the driver. Or there is the “throw them in the deep end” approach, where the day they get their learners, they take them straight up the freeway and into the heart of the city. Usually this parent is an advocate of the ‘sit there and say nothing’ approach, silently hoping the learner works things out on their own and only speaking up to tell them when they have already made a mistake and scared the bejeezus out of themselves/the parent/other drivers on the road.
I think the key to getting started lies in taking baby steps, but learning them thoroughly before tackling the next skill. This means that you will both progress in the learning together with out either of you feeling like its all going too fast. Start simple, in a quiet, preferably gridated neighbourhood, or even in a large empty carpark, begin by going over all the controls in the car, and the seat and mirror adjustments. Believe me, some of them will be like a bull at a gate to get going and taking your time at this point will slow them down a little. Others who may be really nervous about the first drive, can take this time to settle into being on the other side of the car for the first time. Then begin by just looking for basic steering control, accelerating gently and the all important BRAKING!
TIP: Establish some emergency words! Make it clear from the start, “If I say STOP! you STOP!” And then don’t use those words, unless you are really afraid they are about to cause an accident. You can use other words to increase intensity eg. Brake, Brake more, Brake harder, STOP!
Next article: Where to from here? Tools a supervising driver may not realise they have.
See franniesdrivertraining.com.au/prices for more information about our 5 Lesson Beginners Package for Geelong, Drysdale and the Bellarine.