I've been invited to talk to a group of people in July about driving safety. Not road safety, you understand, but driving safety. I've decided to call my talk 'De-merits of driving' because I have so much evidence of the fact that many drivers on the roads in New Zealand today, either have no idea about what is legal or illegal about their driving - or, if they do, perhaps they just don't care!
I'm a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting better driving and riding and enhancing road safety, by taking the standard of driving and riding of existing drivers and riders to a level significantly higher than that required to pass the normal driving test.
I'm also a mentor for (usually teenage) students who are working through Partners Porirua to achieve their restricted driving test. It saddens me that these students are driving at a standard significantly higher than that exhibited by many, many other drivers on the roads. I notice, when one of these students is nearly ready to take their test, that they begin to point out the poor and inconsiderate driving that they see all around them as we go out for one of our drives. They see things that they know would ensure that they would fail their restricted test if they were to do it. I think it's shameful that there are so many really bad examples of driving on all sides. It's gratifying that these 'new' drivers coming forward to take their tests know the road rules and are abiding by them, but what impression can they make on the overall standard of driving? If some of the drivers they see were to re-take their full test today, I wonder if they would pass.
Do we, I wonder, always put our indicators on for at least three seconds before changing our position on the road. This includes when we are:
- changing lanes
- negotiating a roundabout
- pulling out or returning to the kerb
If we accumulate 100 or more active demerit points within any two year period, our licence will be suspended for a period of three months and we will not be entitled to drive. Failure to indicate left when leaving a roundabout, for example, will incur a fine of $150 and 20 demerit points. Apart from the discourtesy of not keeping other drivers informed of our intentions, can we really afford this?
And just as importantly, do we always check our blind spots by looking over our shoulder in the appropriate direction before moving, including when we are:
- leaving the kerb
- changing lanes
- merging with other traffic
Any driver sitting either a restricted or full licence today would not pass if they failed to do any or all of the above. Would you pass?
.It's your thoughts that count when you're left in doubt. And we're always left in doubt when other drivers don't indicate their intentions.