In the past week a debate has been raging about whether Canberra drivers are less safe than their interstate counterparts. The Canberra Times asked "We have the nation's lowest rate of road fatalities, but it's a common view that Canberrans are impatient behind the wheel. Is it an accurate view, or are we too hard on ourselves?"
From my perspective, the development and ongoing compliance with low risk driving behaviours is fundamental to the safety of young drivers and indeed all road users.
During driving lessons with inexperienced learners, the impact of impatient drivers can be negative. Common courtesy on the roads is important, and an understanding that learner drivers need the opportunity to gain skills and grow in confidence without being badgered or pressured while practicing.
I think it is wrong to say that all Canberrans are impatient or inadequately skilled drivers because of our good roads and favourable traffic conditions. I have had the experience of being tailgated, overtaken in perilous conditions and greeted with rude gestures and horns. I think to myself what was to be gained by all that nonsense when in reality we meet again at the next intersection! This is my experience in all cities I have driven in, not just Canberra. Patience and planning are the real issues here.
At National Driving Academy we ensure an ongoing focus for learner drivers on developing hazard perception skills and avoidance of distracted driving. A very simple approach, albeit challenging for many, is to ensure you plan ahead for your trip, allowing sufficient time to arrive at your destination; avoiding distractions by having breakfast before departing; turning off your mobile phone and concentrating on driving so you can enjoy your ride!
It is also important for parents and other drivers to recognise the impact that their poor driving habits may ingrain on the learner and ultimately become their own habits – these habits are potentially being passed onto the next generation of drivers.
I am a proud born and bred Canberran and in my experience, certainly feel that the we are good drivers.