Are you capable of driving a motor car, correctly?

(First in Series)

by

John Gavin

 

One and only one of numerous safe driving considerations is a word that applies to the armed services, medicine, academia, police and once-upon-a-time, schools. The word is:

DISCIPLINE:

The word applies to ships and aircraft as well as to cars. If the driver or Captain is unable to exercise a degree; a high degree, of discipline, perhaps they should be seeking another occupation  of interest.

City Born Drivers:

There are some questions that should perhaps have been asked fifty years ago. Are drivers born and raised in the major cities a better driver than those born and raised in the country?

The city born will have faced some obstacles to driving. Somewhere to practice was a consideration. City Roads and traffic are not the place to practice driving when the driver has not been issued with a learners licence; something that incidentally, did not exist fifty years ago. The most probable scenario is that either parents friends or a driving school, bearing in mind that few driving schools operated fifty years ago, have been where the driver gained the knowledge required to pass a licence test. There are many others who have just stepped into a car and driven. The licence test itself would have been at a major State government facility. A transport regulation board or authority. Once a licence was issued supervision was no longer available or necessary.

Country born drivers:

In the case of the country driver, lawfully or unlawfully the driver has had access to unsealed and unpoliced country roads on which to practice. But in the preceding years and from a very early age, experience has been gained in the use of tractors and other farm vehicles, even trucks and some very heavy equipment and need it be said, some very dangerous equipment. When it came time to obtain a licence they have visited the local police station where a police-officer, possibly with an intimate knowledge of the family, tested them for issue of a licence. Unlike the city driver, the local police well know the driver is a novice and he will be supervised, unofficially. Should that new driver transgress from the law, he/she would have been cautioned, booked, taken to court and in many cases suffer the ignominy of losing that licence.

The time traveller:

All of this is history, the research in relation to the initial question has not been undertaken and the only impossible question is; are the drivers of today better or worse than their counterparts of fifty years ago?

Admittedly, laws have been constantly evolving while the motor vehicle has been undergoing extensive change. The only person who may be able to answer the many questions generated is Doctor Who, the time traveller of television fiction.  So, assuming Doctor Who or some other person travels from the past, fifty years ago, imagine the confused world of motoring he will face. We would be hard pressed to imagine the confusion road traffic laws and a mechanical device completely dissimilar to what existed before making that journey would cause.

It would be highly unlikely that the driver of fifty years ago would be able to start a modern vehicle let alone drive it. Who would disagree that the motor vehicle of today has evolved to a stage where it is not “driven,” it can do most of that itself, it is “guided” by the so called “driver.” And little more is required except for any understanding of the modern car.

Are we reaching a stage of some minimal understanding? How many drivers now have many years of driving behind them? Half of the driving community? They will have assimilated some of the evolving laws and even been delighted with the modern refinements to the motor vehicle. We will not attempt to list those refinements. Just look at aerodynamics, Automatic Braking Systems (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ETC) and much more. Take a modern motor car onto a real skid-pan. A smooth surface with water tricking over oil. It is not a daunting task. It will be difficult to induce a spin or slide capabilities as the vehicle, ABS and ESC will not permit it.

Now remove ABS and ESC, remove tyres with a tread and replace them with slicks, tyres with a smooth surface. You could of course take a twenty year old car in good condition, change the tyres and use that. Drive onto the skid pan at a sedate 50 kilometres an hour and prepare yourself for the ride of your life. Wait! Environmental authorities would not now permit that.

Women drivers:

Fifty years ago very few woman held a driving licence. They had no need for one although many of those were quite competent drivers. On the other hand you could rightly say that all young men wanted a licence and usually obtained it. In the country (There; we introduce that again) it was essential. It was not so essential in the city. Once driving to work was more inconvenient than a train, bus or tram. That is not so today. There are few women today who do not seek a driving licence as any driver of any sex will tell you. Does it impose difficulties other than add to the congestion of the roads?. Some people born and raised in countries outside the Western World may be able to speak about that. There is only question we would ask in relation to women, is the maternal instinct so strong that the operation of a highly potent machine becomes a secondary consideration?

 

 

So much for the evolvement of modern vehicles.  As for the drivers, let it be said that it  is a difficult task to teach modern skills to a person who has been applying the old “skills” for so many years. For them to admit that they need to learn something would be anathema. “Modern skills” or “old skills:-

For instance go to http://content.met.police.uk/Site/drivingschooldrivingcourses This school has been in

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Page 5: Road Safety