OPINION: My father turns 90 this year. He drives his car to pick up groceries, attend family gatherings, and now and again he uses it for short trips out of town.
He drives well and is confident when doing so. He is extremely observant and courteous to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. He is also cautious when driving, an attribute sadly lacking with many other drivers around the country.
However, because of his age he must now be re-tested not only for his ability to drive, but also for his general knowledge of all the current road rules and regulations.
And that's just fine.
During this examination process, my father's ability will be assessed by an instructor and points will be allocated to determine whether or not he should have his driver's licence renewed.
And that's also just fine.
If he passes this driving test and his licence re-issued for another 12 months, at least both he and the NZ Transport Agency will know that this person has been proven to be suitable to drive a motor vehicle under the current laws and regulations. In other words, if he passes the test process the rest of us can be assured he is a suitable and skilled driver.
But what about the thousands of drivers who have never had a driving re-test performed, nor even bothered to browse through the current road rulebook to update on their general knowledge of rules and regulations since they got their driver's licence? Is it possible to have any assurance at all that these thousands of drivers are up to an acceptable standard of driving aptitude and knowledge of the regulations that would satisfy the authorities today?
For example, my father will be required to know what length of material secured on his car's roof-rack may be permitted to overhang the front of his car. He will also be required to know from what point on the car this measurement is taken from. He will also be asked what is the recommended distance a car should be maintained from a cyclist on our roadway.
Do we know these answers? Do we even need to know these answers? The fact is they are current rules and therefore we do need to know the answers. Should we all be required to have regular refresher courses, to maintain knowledge of the rules, not just 90 year olds?
Maybe we need to spend a few moments from time to time and sit, open the rule book and read a few pages. There are many interesting facts that we should all be aware of.
If we break the rules - and who can honestly say they haven't - just remember that ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.
- A good driver is a knowledgeable driver, one who knows the rules.
- A good driver is a cautious driver, always observant of what is happening around him or her.
- A good driver is a courteous driver, one who respects other drivers' safety and wellbeing.
- A good driver displays tolerance.
- A good driver never breaks the rules.
- A good driver has patience.
And an excellent driver is ALL OF THE ABOVE.
* Mike Holswich is a veteran mechanic and motorist from Taranaki.
- The Press