I'd be the first to acknowledge that I've been a pretty poor driver in the past. Too competitive! In too much of a hurry! Inconsiderate! Too much risk taking! And more ... I'm also aware that I'm a much better driver nowadays when I'm not in a hurry! Old habits die hard.
About three years ago I responded to a request from Partners Porirua for volunteers to mentor students who needed to achieve their Restricted Licences but couldn't get there because they had neither a car nor a qualified adult in their home. I've always had a passion for helping others to reach their full potential and why, I wondered, would this be any different? (I confess that the thought did cross my mind that I might be putting my life at risk!) So I decided to put my toe in the water. Helping teenagers to achieve their Restricted Licences - often a prerequisite to getting a job - seemed a very worthwhile adventure. The unexpected spin-off I gained, however, of spending time with many delightful young people (like Rangi in the photo) was very rewarding for me.
The question was, did I have sufficient skills to be certain that I would be passing on the very best information and skills that I could?
Put your thoughts 'out there' and things happen. Recently, I was asked to work with the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Institute of Advanced Motorists It felt like serendipity! I'd qualified as a member in the IAM UK (now called IAM Roadsmart) eons earlier when I lived in England, and more latterly with IAM NZ, but here was an opportunity to increase my qualification and become an 'Observer'.
The qualification is no pushover! Apart from the driving component one has to know both the New Zealand Road Code and Roadcraft, the UK Police Drivers Manual intimately. There are twenty questions on each in the theory test with a requirement to pass at 85%!
Do you know your Road Code intimately? I was astonished, not only at how much I'd forgotten since I took the NZ test thirty-seven years ago when we arrived from England, but also how many of the regulations I thought I knew have, in fact, changed. Being so much more safety conscious these days, I'm appalled at how many drivers there are on the roads who don't have much of a clue about what's in the Road Code. Some New Zealand drivers are exemplary. Some just think they're wonderful drivers. I wonder how many even care. They might care more if they checked out the statistics on road accidents and the reasons for them. How would it be if everyone with a licence was required to re-sit their driving test, say, every ten years. How many would pass?
Be that as it may, I feel comfortable that each time I go out with Rangi it's likely that I'll know the answers to her questions and she'll be getting the best information I can give. And when she takes her Restricted Test, she'll know that she's one of the safer and more knowledgeable drivers on the road. She's transforming from a 'learner' into a 'driver'.