Saturday, May 03, 2008

Pulling up the ladder, yet again

New Labour is determined to disqualify the poorest, and even the cash-strapped, from progressing in life. Here's the latest:

Parents could be banned from teaching their children to drive under plans to cut the number of deaths among novice motorists.
There's another approach that has been proven to work. But first, more of this proposal (emphasis added):
Lessons from a government-approved instructor - which cost at least £20 an hour - would become compulsory for all test candidates if the proposals were adopted.

The plans - to be unveiled next week - aim to reduce the 300 deaths a year caused by motorists with less than two years' experience.

However, the Government was understood to have dropped stricter curbs on new drivers, including night-time curfews and a lower drink-drive limit.
Why should driving instructors be government approved? Passing a test should be the only requirement for driving. This is another example of valuing the method over the result, a characteristic of this government.

The plan isn't designed to bring down road deaths - that's the excuse, not the reason. The reason is a compulsive control-freakery that cannot countenance any activity that isn't regulated by the government.

And what the fuck was that about curfews? I've been trying not to swear recently, but what the fuck? OK, they dropped the idea, but they had the idea in the first place.

Driving is a great personal freedom, and learning to do so is for most people part of the transition between the dependency of childhood and the independence of adult life. Why does the government hate this? Oh, yes. Stupid question.

Here's what does work:
In France, l'apprentissage anticipe de la conduite (AAC), commonly known as conduite accompagnee, allows young people to spend most of their learning kilometres with an accompanying adult rather than a driving instructor.

This option, introduced in 1990, offers a real alternative to parents with teenagers wishing to learn to drive. Judging by the number of other cars like ours displaying the compulsory sticker on their back windscreens and bumpers, it is a choice many families in France are turning to.
The main argument that convinces parents like me to undergo being driven around by their teenager, however, is that statistics show that with this experience of learning to drive, the risks of accidents are considerably reduced. Our driving school's brochure says four times fewer accidents are had by those having completed AAC than other drivers of the same age. Insurance companies offer reduced tariffs to these young people who have done the conduite accompagnee once they have passed their tests.
Freedom works. It's very, very simple.


Anonymous said...

Do the Northern Irish still have their system of the P plate; does it help?

Longrider said...

As an ex-driving instructor, I like the French system. When I taught people to drive they would often ask if it was okay to practice with a family member. My response was always a qualified "yes". The reason it was qualified was that unless you are comfortable with a novice in the driving seat, you can do more harm than good. If you are comfortable and can relax, then you will give them what they need - experience. When it worked, it worked well; I noticed a marked improvement in their driving ability over a relatively short period of time. I provided the required professional training, giving them the necessary basic skills, and the practice complemented that.

As for government approved - I do believe that there should be a standardised approach and that the buying public should be able to buy with confidence knowing that their instructor is properly qualified and is continuing their professional development and will provide standards based instruction.

None of this requires the government to be involved, though. And, frankly, the DSA's qualifying process is profoundly flawed - but that's another story.

Anonymous said...

Here in the US, DLs are state powers. Most of us (where I grew up) learned to drive on the farm from our parents, but if you took drivers ed in high school and passed with a B or better, you could get your DL when you turned 16 without having to get a learners permit at 15 and driving only with a licensed adult in the car for a year. So all of us took drivers ed.

I have no idea if Indiana still has that same system, by the way. It's been, uh, several decades since I got my DL.

Anonymous said...

This already happens.

Teach your kids to drive, take them for their test, they will fail.

It doesn't matter how good they are, they will fail.

The whole thing is a stitch-up between the driving instructors and the examiners, who naturally are all good pals.

Same kid, same capabilities, but with a known instructor in tow at the test centre, passes.

It stinks, but it's how things are.

Changing the law would just make it official.

Longrider said...

Anon, no. The reason they fail is because they have not been prepared for what the examiner is looking for. with the best will in the world the average experienced driver will not have this knowledge.

My advice - for what it is worth - is let a qualified instructor do the basics. They have dual controls and an understanding of how people learn (along with the patience to see their vehicle abused). Then back this up with practice. The important part of this practice involves not contradicting what the novice has been taught by their instructor. You may not agree with modern driving techniques, but this is what the examiner is looking for and failure to apply them will mean a test failure.

Unfortunately, you merely repeat the same tired clich├ęs I came across time and time again when I was teaching. It's nothing more than a combination of ignorance and urban myth.

There's much wrong with the driver training industry - in particular how driving instructors are trained, qualified and continuously developed - but you are not even close.

Chris Harrison said...

Another good thing about the French system is that after passing you have to drive around with an "A" (for apprentice) sticker on your car for two years and you have to observe lower speed limits during those two years.

Of course, the accident statistics are considerably worse in France and the French often look to the UK for ideas on how to improve their driving. I saw an amusing programme on French TV a couple of years ago showing how driving in the UK is so much safer because we Brits are much more polite than the French!