Better road users

When I made the decision to get my motorcycle licence, one of my decision points was to become a better car driver. I strongly believed it at the time, and in the 6 years since I got my motorcycle licence, I wholeheartedly believe I am a better car driver for it.

So, putting this thought into practice, here is my basic framework for building a nation of better road users:

Every person seeking a driving licence needs to gain a licence in every form of transport

  1. Start with a motorcycle licence – become one of the most vulnerable road users and understand how difficult it is to ride safely and be seen by other road users.
  2. Then, get your truck driver’s licence. After being one of the most vulnerable road users, become one of the most despised and misunderstood section of road users. You will soon understand how difficult it is to pull up a fully laden truck in such a small space after other road users take up your valuable braking space
  3. If you’re still around and haven’t been scared out of your wits, you can progress to a car drivers licence. It’s envisaged that after being at both ends of the spectrum as a road user, you will then appreciate, understand and respect the vulnerable and the misunderstood

This is a simplistic view, but outlines the basics of expanding your skills whilst understanding more about how other people use the road.

Some other ideas: Graduated education programs for all road users (similar to the rider education program in existence in NSW), an understanding that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege not a right, and ensuring people have the right mindset when they get behind the wheel.

What are your thoughts on this?

5 replies on “Better road users”

Interesting thought provoking post

It’s a novel idea Andrew,and I can see some merits but with all due respect, would be very impractical nd disenfranchising for a large proportion of the learner driver population. Speaking as the mother of a very slim short little girl who will be getting her learners in less than a year, I can hardly see her lifting a motorcycle (though she can change a car tyre if someone loosens the nuts). I don’t want my daughter coming to any harm when she begins her driving career. Riding a motor bike would not ensure that safety – as you point out motorbike riders are very vulnerable. In fact I don’t even want my son riding one – though as his fvourite uncle is a Harley rider, I don’t think I will have much choice in that decision

As for handling truck gears – the thought of a lot of 17, 18 0r 19 year old learner truck drivers on our roads who are learning for no other reason than to get a car licence is just plain scarey!

I doubt that either experience would change the attitudes and habits of some drivers. Sadly even first hand experience of the hazards of driving will not make some drivers any safer. My husband, a panel beater, has often repaired cars for drivers who have been in multiple car accidents some just weeks apart.

I do think that your idea of graduated education program has a lot of merit. My daughter has just had 3 weeks of drivers ed at school and is now thinking like a driver, watching me and her father in how we drive, asking questions, noticing when we do the right thing and the wrong like on the very quiet Sunday when I was the only vehicle on the road and DID NOT indicate as I exited a round-about – she still nags me about that! I just wish that it was longer than 3 weeks – It has been a great program, I also wish that that it had happened in year 10, as now that she is in year 11 half of her class have gone to Tech College where I’m not sure that they get driver’s ed, also many of her class are already 16 and a half and so have their learners already.

When she begins her driving I will be paying for a Defensive driving course for her (and for her brother in 5 years time) and I think that should be mandatory for all young drivers. Longer periods on P plates could also help.

Ultimately though, there is no one size fits all answer and sadly there will always be that element of driver who either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about any road user but themselves!


I like it. The reason I like it is simple- it is too damn easy for someone to get a learner’s permit and then a license. I was a horrible driver at 16, so horrible, in fact, that I failed the test twice. I almost hit a motorcyclist once, having no understanding of the rules of the road for two-wheeled vehicles.

It has been proven that bike riders are better car drivers. Those who do both use their head to look in blind spots, are more aware of other road users, and aware of changes in road conditions.

My issue is the ease at which people get a car licence. While there has been some advancements like the 120 hours minimum practice, I think there should be more done.

New drivers should do a defensive driving course as part of their training. They should be made to drive in all conditions possible, including dirt roads. Driving should be taught in schools for the theory side of things, so even those who wont get a licence, will at least have an understanding of the road laws. After all, how many push bike riders bother to know the road laws?

All road laws should be standardised through out Australia. Being allowed to cross over double lines into a private drive way in NSW, is an example of something that isn’t in other States.

All learners should be taken through a trauma ward, to see the result of incidents on the road, and just how dangerous a car is. I also think they should be tested every year of their P plate period, and if they pass the driving test each time, then they get given a full licence. Also if you lose your licence for any reason, you have to resit your driving exam to get it back, regardless of age or years of experience.

If you want to see a place where they really teach people how to drive, go and have a look at Finland. Their driver training is a case of world’s best practice.

Rebecca, I agree re: Finland’s driving standards. I could not find any research that proves Defensive Driving course makes better drivers – nonetheless I bought my wife an advanced/Defensive Driving course for her birthday a couple of years ago, and she said she learned quite a bit from it, so anecdotally I’d concur!

Jaime – I think I was a crap driver when I was younger, and KNOW that many of my incidents/crashes were the result of inattention (err hindsight tells me this, at the time I excused away all honest reasons why it happened!)

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