Friday, September 02, 2011

The L Platers

As did my peers, by the age of 14 I was quite proficient with the mechanics of driving, with only road skills to develop. By the age of 18 I was quite experienced enough with on road driving. I decided to have a lesson with a professional instructor, a woman who had been an instructor for years. In spite of me disliking her Hillman Hunter intensely, I must have been ok, as she did not say I need umpteen lessons, but that I was ready to go for my licence. The day after I turned eighteen, I had my driving licence. Much as I now dislike driving, it is impossible to imagine not being able to drive.

I was on a tram in Lygon Street and it stopped between stops and the driver was ringing his bell at a learner driver who was sitting on the tram tracks while waiting for cars to clear in the opposite direction before completing his or her turn into the Vic Roads street, the driving licence authority. I have seen this before at the same location. They are professional driving instructors teaching the students to drive, yet they have their students sit illegally on the tram tracks and blocking a tram.

I remember when a blogger from the past returned from working in London and needed a driving licence in Australia. Blonde as a Brunette had a very nasty time with three different instructors, as I recall.

But surely if you use such a top organisation, such as The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, you expect the driving instructor standards to be high. Maybe three hundred metres further down Lygon St, almost at Elgin Street, there is another student driver sitting right on top of a 'Keep Clear' painted on the road. This was not one of those dodgy ACME driving instructors, but no less than the RACV.

Once Professor Fels has finished his enquiry into the our taxi industry, perhaps he could start on the driving instructor mess. And include the RACV. It is one thing for parents to teach their children bad driving habits, but quite another when supposedly professional instructors just don't seem to have a clue.


  1. If, as a nation, we were actually serious about reducing the road toll, there'd be FAR more emphasis on mandatory and regulated driving instruction - as opposed to the ridiculous gentleman's agreement situation in SA where anyone with a license 'signs off' the driving hours/capabilities a young person has completed. And the driving rules are updated with an ad in the paper? What about mandatory 5 year testing?? And actual license suspensions for proven misdemeanours? Yes, that'd be inconvenient, but not as 'inconvenient' as more unnecessary deaths on the road.

  2. If you wanted a driver's license back when I was turning 16, you had to take a Driver's Ed class, but they were offered in high school and you got to go out driving each day of class. They taught us how to drive defensively and believe it or not, it has stuck with me to this day.

  3. I took the test 3 times, and when I finally had my license... I stopped driving. My workplace was just 10 walking minutes from home. Visiting a tradeshow or agent just a bus, tram or trainride away.

    To this day I still renew my driving license, but more as an ID then really going back behind the wheel. [Would need a special car anyway with my handicaps].

  4. ugh i'm so sick of people who don't know their road rules/don't know how to drive/don't indicate/have broken tail lights or indicators etc.

  5. Hi Andrew

    Blonde as Brunette was conned. I presented myself at Vic Roads with a scrappy old paper copy of my UK Licence issued in 1982 - I hadn't ever gotten around to getting the optional photo ID card version. I was asked to read a few enormous letters on a chart, have my photo taken, pay a token amount of money and I was issued with my licence straight away.

    Interestingly, last time I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago, I saw a 'hook turn' accident. Now there's a strange beast, the 'hook turn'.



  6. Red, I certainly agree about much tighter learner driver training. But I reckon half the instructors are cowboys and the industry needs a good clean up. We do have to remember we have made great progress with the road toll though. I wonder if it isn't because we spend so much time stationary in traffic now. Bigger subject.

    Towanda, you can be a perfect driver and never make a mistake, but unless you drive defensively, you will be in trouble at some point. It is emphasised here too.

    Peter, I don't think you are alone there. I have known more than one person who had a licence but apart from the instruction and the test, they have never driven.

    You and me both Fen. Aggressive drivers worry me less than just plain stupid ones.

    Pants, she didn't have any driving licence. She was starting from scratch. The hook turn and our trams are designed to terrorise and instil fear into interstate drivers. There are couple of intersections with hook turns in South Melbourne, but apart from there, I haven't made a city hook turn for decades. Too much trust is involved, as you witnessed.