You cannot gain experience while you’re not allowed to experience anything.
Same with driving: the biggest reason so many new drivers have accidents is that they are inexperienced; only time and lots of driving will make them more experienced. Changing the test and teaching it in schools doesn’t make someone experienced, it makes them book smart, which generally means, roughly, nothing when it comes to actual driving experience.
I’d plenty of book-smarts when it came to driving; I aced the test, I’d lots of highway code approved facts at my disposal. I’d hundreds of hours experience. Didn’t stop me making stupid mistakes, causing one accident and getting 3 points within a year of passing my test, did it? And I seriously doubt that any further tuition would have helped.1
Basically, the best way to learn is to find out, through experience, how not to do things. And that can’t be taught, it has to be learned by each and every driver for themselves. Sure, basic competence should be tested, and that is what the test does. Sure, a quick examination on that wonderful work of fiction called the Highway Code2 would be handy, and that is what the theory test is for. Anything more than that cannot be examined, because no two drivers will have the same experiences.
So leave well alone, basically.
1 – On that front, by the way, how is it that the cost of tuition has more than doubled in the nine years since I was learning? And that the average number of hours tuition taken has also risen greatly? I smell a rat, a great big rat owned by that most evil grouping: the approved driving instructors. They killed Kennedy, you know.
2 – Seriously, have you seen the braking distances in the code? Sure, they might have been alright for a 1947 car with drum brakes, but not so much for a 2006 model with all round discs and ABS…
I agree pretty much, working in transport has given me a good understanding of roads, but hasn’t helped me actually drive much better. I am still nervous. I do think that off road courses would be good if they are used to give students a chance to get the feel of a car without having to deal with other traffic.
Maybe I was just very lucky with my instructor, but he did start me off somewhere where there was no traffic, just to see if I had sufficient control of the car before he let me on the road. That would be sensible, but I would still leave it to each instructor to make up their mind about how best to do it.
In Sweden they used to say as a bit of male chauvinist banter, that a pre-requisite for a top rally driver is to write-off three cars before you are 21. Well, here’s my contribution to road safety: Death is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down. Of course driving is a risk. There are certain actions you can take to minimise that risk, but in the final analysis accept the risk or use public transport. Because, contrary to popular belief, life does not come out of a packet, and thickos are crap drivers. Am I right, or am I right? And no one, repeat no one is indispensable.