Our Drivers Must Go Back To School

The fact that everybody that finds themselves behind the wheels needs some refreshment at the one time or the other cannot be underestimated.

The point is that people must be made to update themselves especially in a modern world where a lot has changed and much more keep changing. If you’ve been driving for the past 25 years then it’s time to know that this is 2014 and a lot more needs to be known.

It is also necessary for drivers to go for driving updates to familiarize themselves with modern rules in driving. This is also necessary in view of new models of vehicles that are being introduced into the system daily. Drivers like any other professionals, contribute meaningfully to national development and therefore very important that they are informed on new developments in driving.
On a particular programme run on television, one including myself wondered if drivers ever went for driving lessons in the first place. Most of them couldn’t even recognize basic road signs. I was stunned and asked myself how I would feel jumping into a vehicle with a driver who can’t identify a zebra crossing, behind the wheels. In other words, I would feel very uncomfortable and unsafe knowing whose hands I’ve entrusted my life into.

The observation is that some of these drivers only learn to drive knowing basic skills. Apart from drivers who learn driving through training schools, those who learn driving through apprenticeship do not know much about road signs. Some of the drivers are school drop-outs who cannot read and write and who must first of all consider the fact that the lives of passengers are in their hands.
I don’t know how many of our numerous driving schools are accredited. Those who wield oversight responsibility with these institutions better sit up to ensure that they keep them on their toes.

Considering the fact that the people they train are going to be entrusted with the care of human lives, it’s very important to ensure that they themselves are up to speed with that responsibility as well as having the requisite knowledge to impart to aspiring drivers.
Maybe it’s time to track the training institutions of drivers who more often than not are engaged in accidents and find out their backgrounds. It’s very important for every prospective driver to enroll in driving schools to learn more on road signs and defensive driving to help reduce the carnage on the roads but not any school or anyhow for that matter.

Elsewhere such as the United Kingdom, prospective drivers go through rigorous tests before they are allowed to drive. Further, thorough examination of applicants must be done before issuing them with driving licenses. Also, there ought to be a strong political will to clamp down on racketeering vehicles that ply the roads. Though the conditions of some of the vehicles are so bad, they still ply the roads anyway and I wonder how those vehicles acquire road-worthy certificates.

The Transport Department must set up a Drivers Training Institute, which will serve as a training ground for drivers and help to promote road safety rules. The periodic checks against reckless driving are not enough to bring down the number of accidents.
In addition the updates for drivers must be run to keep their skills up to speed. Many drivers would have learnt the rules during the initial period of training and these courses would help them to be aware of road safety measures. These updates can be taken up by anyone. Further there’s the need for the setting up of an inspection center, which would have facilities to check the emission levels and speed levels of vehicles.

Even if you haven’t been involved in a collision in 40 years, it may be time to review your driving skills. With aging, changes occur in hearing, vision and reaction time. You can learn to adjust your skills to compensate for those changes. Such driving issues such as entering or exiting a highway, changing lanes on the highway, passing, parking, left Turns, night driving, driving through rain, the frustrations of today’s complicated traffic environment, etc may come complex to some people and regular updating of their skills is important.

These can help our drivers to gain more confidence behind the wheel, improve their awareness of traffic hazards, update them on traffic laws and new technology, anticipate the actions of other drivers, identify and correct bad driving habits, voice their concerns in a friendly, relaxed environment, etc.

When a person is showing signs that driving may be creating a danger to them or to others, the solution may just be a matter of updating their driving skills. This can be a good way for older drivers to polish driving skills and make sure they are current with driving safety regulations. Updates educate older adults about the ways aging can affect driving skills, helping them adapt to these changes so they can drive safely and with confidence.

All in all any driver behind the wheels need regular updates to keep them in line with a modern world and eliminate dangers to themselves and others. I watched, reflected and delved right back into the wanton display of ignorance, recklessness and carefree attitude on the roads, from Savelugu to Cape Coast, Koforidua to Kumasi, Accra to Damongo and then asked silently and rhetorically, how often to we retrain the men and women behind the wheels so as to keep up with new trends on our roads.

Is it just sufficient to say, okay, he’s got the license or she’s been driving for decades and that’s all that matters? Certainly, that is a big no-no. The question is if they were okay with what they know would we be lamenting over their general act of indiscipline that threatens to consume the chunk of the travelling public?

The point is that no one will accept they’re a bad driver, but sometimes a gentle reminder of basic skills can do your confidence a world of good. In our working lives we realize the value of ongoing training to help us adapt to changing circumstances and avoid getting rusty, so surely we should take the same approach to our driving.
The value of immediate post-test training should be widely promoted. Increasingly, though, people who have held a license for a number of years should be realizing that they would benefit from extra tuition and therefore should be considering updating themselves.

This is fairly common in the case of older women, who have left most of the driving to their husbands. Now, because of bereavement or their partner’s illness, they need to get behind the wheel again. Other reasons include wanting to overcome common motoring fears such as motorways or night driving, getting a job that involves high mileages, needing to regain confidence after an accident and moving from the small town to the city or vice versa.

And, with some weather patterns or conditions very much in everyone’s minds, driving in foggy times and places such as the mountains is a challenge many people won’t have tackled as learners, but a session with a driving instructor can teach techniques for avoiding skids that can make the experience much less hair-raising.

Some updates may help many drivers improve or regain their skills. Every course they’re taught is tailored to the individual. For example, if a confident driver has just passed their test and wants additional motorway training then we will probably spend most of the session on the motorway. And if a pupil is struggling with a fear of motorways then the approach will be more about gradual exposure – assessing their driving on quiet roads then moving to dual carriageways and eventually the motorway, in a manner which expands their comfort zone.

Some people may want to take the course because they enjoy driving and want to make themselves even better, others because they’ve become rusty and want to improve their skills and confidence levels. I’ll highly encourage all drivers to avoid complacency and make the effort to improve.

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