Banning P Platers from driving on the beach.

Today on SM, we have another academic trading blows and demanding that all P plate drivers be banned from driving on the beach. Amongst the claims are they have not done their time, they are not experienced, they don’t deserve it, they need a reality check, ouch….., well let’s be blunt, treating a group of people with such disdain, intolerance and discrimination, that if it was LGBTQ+, women drivers, people of colour, BLM, or any group, that is being portrayed as marginalized, there would be an outcry from all four corners.

Yet with driving and social issues being driving, it is all the rage. Hoon is a good example, I mean, we recently had the case, where the man who invented a cheese, had to have his name removed, as someone, somewhere, called indigenous people by the same name.

A name of a cheese is not a racist slur, and the racist slur is not a cheese, but, being human, our vernacular is not always perfect.

But, if we don’t agree with someone’s driving, they are labeled a hoon. As an enthusiast of cars, anything with pistons actually, driving and having built a career out of being a professional driver, I find the term hoon incredibly offensive.

See, I see Hoon, as a (well, I cannot use any stereo typical descriptions here can I (get my point)) The definition of hoon is

“is a person who deliberately drives a vehicle in a reckless or dangerous manner”

Now, have you ever spoken to an older person, who complains everyone hoons in their street, yet when they drive, everyone ducks for cover? We do a lot of driver assessments and some of these people have me hanging on.

It is always different from the outside perspective. No one ever hops into a car to crash, no one, we all universally believe we are above average drivers and it is everyone else that needs to improve, be socially compliant.

Keep your brain active
Ever seen a driver admit fault?

The problem is our driver training process and licensing system. It has a name, it is called the “Default” means- “What happens if we don’t do anything”

costs of poor driving

That is how teens are taught to drive. This approach of putting red and green P plates on a car, that is supposed to do what” label them, make them stand out to be labelled, critizsed by the very people who taught them to drive…?

ouch. It is not just confined to P plate drivers. It is our driving culture.

See, we all taught ourselves how to drive. We all think we are above average and well, it is everyone else that is bad, dangerous, a hoon. Everyone has an opinion, but if we are judging others that way, how are they judging us?………

Coloured P plates do as much to improve their driving as a cheese called Coon, aids racial vilifaction.

Is banning P platers from driving on the beach the answer, or is the system failing the drivers, not the drivers failing the system?

See, what is so ironic and wrong about this industry, is it the only form of education and training, where the student is allowed to define the training process, infact they don’t even practice, they just hang on.

The supervisor is allowed to be self appointed, based on relationship alone and the assessment process is about rules and compliance, when they know it takes less than two hours for a new driver to define what rules they think are relevant and what are irrelevant and file.

When they crash, which they do at 5 times the average, 1/3rd will crash in their first three months alone, we throw the book at them. Yet we don’t do this with any of their previous education, we don’t even do it with sport, the arts or social.

Yet we do it with the most complex activity they will ever undertake. Driving

The author Jane Stephens, even states

“They have not earned the right yet. There is no need for them to be there.”

Wow, lets say that about the gender pay gap and see how vitrolic the crowd becomes.

But it gets better

The highest risk activity you will ever undertake
Banning P Platers from driving on the beach

“Demanding more of them is required: more learning, more checks, more time served.”

“The holders of these licences are in transition. They are learning the ropes and gaining their stripes.”

In that one statement is the problem, the real problem. In the modern world, since when was learning on the job practical, legal? If any workplace did this, they would be shut. Yet this is how we are teaching teens how to drive, they have already had 100 hours and 12 months of experience.

But as the great proverb states

“He who undertakes to be his own teacher has a fool for a pupil.

Here we have our problem

The system is failing the driver, through a complete lack of education, knowledge and skill, believing the student can teach themselves, if only they follow the rules. But, most crashes happen within the rules.

They have all followed the rules, the rules of the Graduated Licenceing scheme, 100 hours of driving, 12 months of practice, the driving test, the hazard perception test. They have done everything, but actually learnt what good driving is, We call it “The ART OF DRIVING”

A rules and compliance based process will never replace the ART OF DRIVING, as by nature, people don’t follow rules. So unless you actually teach them the ART of Driving, They inevitably will crash.

Even when you dull things down to a point of mediocrity so no one will crash, if only they follow rules, People actually crash more, as they become disengaged, bored. In fact another word for fatigue, is monotony in driving.

Keep your brain active
faituge can also be described as monotony in driving

SO lets expand on this particular problem.

In the 4WD training sector of our business, we see a very common problem, people who do not know the first thing about driving, now believing they can be accomplished off road drivers, without any knowledge.

Years ago, Total Driver were contracted to do a vehicle assessment for a government department in Victoria, to justify why they spent so much money buying G wagons,

The crux of our assessment, was.

  1. The vehicle was a fantastic investment, higher yield, lower maintenance and definitively more reliable in the field.
  2. The conflict with personel driving these vehicles, was all training was done to a particular vehicle trait, Vehicles have evolved, training hasn’t
  3. All crashes investigated, were happening driving not in the field, but in transit between the field and depot’s.
  4. They had new drivers, whose only experience was in little and micro cars, driving a vehicle grossing in at 4.5t and more often than not, towing a trailer with up to 4t, creating a combined mass of 8.5t.

The response by said government department, holy grail of all things compliance, rules and safety, was to break down the report into three reports and only submit the one showing what great decisions they had made purchasing the Mercedes Product. The other facts were ignored with said department stating they were covered as the people had a drivers licence that covered the 4.5t gvm that was covered with the basic drivers licence.

The complete lack of training and ignorance for the required training, could only be endorsed by a government department that did not want to address the issue. IF a business did this, they would be fined out of business and then shut down if they still had a business.

We are getting a common thread to this discussion here.

Enthusiasm, swagger, and energy to burn, they are traits we all remember with youth. I remember acknowledging the day I was getting a few miles under the belt when I realised the value of the saying “Youth is wasted on the Young”. ouch…..

Tonight, having dinner, I struck up a conversation with a woman and her daughter and the subject of driving came up. More importantly, the discussions being had around the driver behaviour of males in the group, the obsession with speed, donuts, spinning the wheels, she wasn’t even 16 yet.

We discussed this, however, rules and compliance are not high on any teens list and before you criticize and tut tut, we were all young, full of spirit and being rebellious. Basic human behaviour has not changed in only a generation.

Did you know, that in his Army years of conscription, if Dick Johnson, Multiple Australian Touring car champion, Bathurst winner and OAM, was the only car leaving Barracks for the weekend, no one would go with him.

Gary Rush, Multiple Australian Sprint car champion, used to leave for work 1 minute later every day, to see if he could still make it on time.

Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, No one was pioneering anything here.

The first two vehicle manufacturers, Henry Ford and Gobleitte Daimler, both insisted on a race to see whose car was the best and fastest.

The Romans raced horses and chariots. people even race themselves, we call it the olympics.

So why is human behaviour not irrelevent just because we are driving?

We call this our driving personality. No one trains or educates around this.

The conversation with this young teen astounded me tonight, for a lot of reasons. Years ago, there was an avenue, that created greats like Dick Johnson, Peter Brock, Larry Perkins, Mick Doohan and so many. It has sent people to the heights of F1. We even had an F1 constructor and World Champion in Brabham.

Car clubs, with enthusiasts, with years of experience, training that included military, would bring everything together with a common ingredient, discipline. Enthusiasm and discipline were married with passion and great drivers developed. They covered all disciplines of driving, circuit, rally, motorkana’s, and even motorbikes, motocross, 4WD. you get the idea

Yet the government has all but closed these facilities down. Imagine doing that with football. Clubs who do try and do this, have to move mountains in compliance and cost for each event.
To hire a facility, since I have been in the industry, has gone from $1500 per day to a whopping $20,000 per day.

Imagine closing down all the fields, the stadiums and building tempory ones so when the game comes to town, we can don the merchandise, the wear and support out team and go home and live with no spirit like it never happened, whilst we wait another year for the show….

Would not happen, people would play in the streets, they would play anywhere that is possible. So why expect a different outcome of social behaviour, just because it is driving?

Crashes don’t happen because an underpowered diesel light truck tried to do a donut, on sand, because, lets face it, most are underpowered and could not pull the skin of a burnt coffee.

Crashes happen when conditions catch people out, when the sands shifted with the tides, when what was flat on the way out, has now crevises, gulleys and washouts that can catch all of us out.

These crashes do not just affect P plate drivers, they affect all drivers. The crashes I have seen, the examples of poor driving, no technique and no idea, are not restricted to P platers, they are just all poor drivers who have never invested in improving their driving since passing the driving test.

Crashes happen as there is no part of getting your driver’s licence, that does anything other than driving around the burbs for an hour, to the shops, school, mums taxi. Experience is not 100 hours of practice (whatever each person thinks that is) or the 12 months of commitment to being ready, Practice is fine, first, you must know what to practice and no one is ever taught that.

Crashes happen as there should not be a one licence fits all category. If you want to tow a trailer, you should do a course, learn, how to load, how to tow, what to do when it starts to sway, why it sways, wind pressure changes when cars and trucks pass, reversing, all of those things.

If you want to 4WD drive, you should do a course. there is so much to learn.

banning P plate drivers from driving on the beach

I recall rescuing two kiwi guys once, partners included, brand new Amarok, with all the gear. blocking the access road. After the second recovery in lesson than 20metres, I asked if they ever thought of doing a 4WD course.

Their answer.

It’s ok bro, I’ve been watching youtube…

I see P plate drivers with too much enthusiasm, but we were all young, it should be channeled, embraced.
I see ones that need a good sorting out. Not for any other reason, than they never had to follow rules, now they have a car, they feel they can do what they like.

I see older drivers, parents who are dead set dangerous. Yet they are passing judgement on all other road users. Worse, they are teaching their teens how to drive.

Are you seeing the pattern here yet. No one wants to be accountable, and yet we throw the book at the ones who have been denied the skill, training, knowledge and dicipline that comes with education, because no one wanted to commit, to invest.

Do not blame, tarnish, destroy reputation, take away peoples rights, in any way, much less decide who gets to go where, enjoy what and why, just because of a blanket opinion.

How to create positive change, instead of banning P plate drivers off the beach

If you want to create positive change, change the way we educate and prepare drivers.
Change how parents make decisions on experience, types of lessons, learning outcomes.

Change the perception of value of what driver training is, so consumers have confidence in what they are paying for. How does a parent chose a driving school and most importantly, why are none of the accomplished drivers, often established business people themselves, why are they not opening institutions, businesses and investing in driver training.

Because parents won’t pay, teens just want their driver’s licence and when it all goes wrong, the authorities want someone to blame.

Yet this mindset costs us $36bn per annum. thousands of lives. More lives than all the wars combined. A teen a day dies, through road trauma. Thirty or more are admitted to hospital. All to save a few dollars on the approach and emphasis of their driver training.

Did you know, of all the school driver education programs I have researched, most were run by mothers who lost their teens through road trauma, who are now self-proclaimed road safety experts……

Did you know over 75% of the peopel in Young Care are under 25 and there through road trauma.

Why don’t we stop banning the symptoms and start addressing how we actually teach people the ART OF DRIVING.

Why don’t we stop banning the symptoms and start addressing how we actually teach people the ART OF DRIVING.



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Graduates of Total Driver have a 400% reduction in accidents over the first 3 years of obtaining their license, in comparison to the national average*.

The question we ask all supervisors:

“Will you bet your child’s life you have the skills to teach the art of driving?”