Drivesmart column: Are we perpetuating mediocrity with how we teach young drivers?

If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary

By Tim Schewe

I once stopped a vehicle being driven at 96 km/h in a posted 50 km/h construction zone. Approaching the passenger side, I spoke with the woman in the front seat and the young lady driving. When I explained why I stopped them, the woman suggested that she was unable to get the driver to slow down, and maybe I could do something about it.

The driver produced a learner driver’s licence and no L sign was displayed on the vehicle.

To me, the solution was simple. The woman should have denied her daughter access to the vehicle unless she was willing to follow the traffic rules. The conversation told me that this was a known issue rather than a one time lapse on the part of the driver.

After they had departed and I sat doing the notes for the violation ticket I had issued, I wondered to myself if maybe it wasn’t so simple. Perhaps this woman should not have been given the privilege of teaching her daughter to drive. If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary to drive correctly and safely.

Do parents read the Tuning Up for Drivers guide that their teen receives in the package with their new learner’s licence? The book contains 20 lessons to prepare for the class 7 road test presented in order for good skill development.

We all tend to think that we are better than average drivers, but I occasionally find myself in conversations with parents who tell me that their teen taught them about things that they were doing wrong when driving.

Yes, ICBC does test the new driver to see if they meet standards as they progress through the Graduated Licensing Program. These standards are much more stringent than they were when I took my driver’s test years ago. The trouble is, attitude can easily be hidden for the duration of a test, but put back on as soon as the driver hits the highway alone.

Perhaps this young lady would be better off taking the complete GLP package at a driving school. She will receive instruction in both the mechanics and the ethics of being a good driver that she might not be getting at home.

Currently Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan require a new driver to take formal training in order to get a full privilege driver’s licence. Given the level of complexity facing a learner driver today presented by both the vehicle and the driving environment, perhaps formal training should be mandatory in all provinces.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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