Driving instructor Leyland Barnett says better driver education could reduce the road toll.     Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Driving instructor Leyland Barnett says better driver education could reduce the road toll. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison ROK170413cdrivers1

Pay attention and we might just curb the road toll

HOW many parents can relate to the all-too familiar driving lesson?

First, it's the white knuckles clinging to the passenger side door, while the newly L-plated offspring heave ho their way around city streets, oblivious to traffic coming up the inside lane.

Or the reluctance to drive faster than 40 kph, or take the foot off the brake.

Then with it all worked out, suddenly they're telling you how to drive while both of you forget the inattention caused by an argument in the front seat.

With 15 years experience as a professional driving instructor, Leyland Barnett understands the psyche of the learner driver and is convinced that better driver education could reduce the road toll.

"Would you allow your parents to teach you to fly an aeroplane," he asks.

"A car is a half tonne vehicle, travelling at high speed with the potential to do a lot of damage.

"If you can't control a motor vehicle properly, the impact on hitting another car or a tree can be catastrophic.

"People need to understand learner drivers are nervous and they could do anything...pull into a gutter, slam the brakes on...their responses are unpredictable.

"And most young drivers need to look further up the road; look out for hazards and potential dangers.

"Most of them are looking at the end of the bonnet and when something happens they see it late and panic.

"It's about building confidence."

Along with the need for proper driver education, Mr Barnett advocates the need for a proper road safety track where people can learn to drive, away from heavy traffic.

He says a track that could be used for driver education, defensive driver training and emergency services driver training could also be a motor racing track to draw more people to the region.

"A lot of people don't like the idea of teaching advanced driving skills for the risk that young people will tend to show off," he said.

"Without somewhere to practice safely, in a controlled environment, they're likely to do it on the highway where it's very unsafe."

He also says he'd like to see the reintroduction of emergency braking in driving tests, similar to the United Kingdom where the correct procedure is legislated.

He says in Australia, many people don't understand how to emergency brake correctly and it's a skill that saves lives.

But far and away, the biggest problem on the road is inattention.

Like too many Australians, Leyland has lost loved-ones in motor vehicle accidents caused by driver inattention.

"I've had cars coming towards me, head on, on the wrong side of the road, because the driver is texting; people fail to give way or indicate their intention to change lanes.

"You see people on the highway driving over double lines, even on blind hill crests where they can't see what's coming the other way.

"On the Capricorn Highway to Gracemere, I often see cars overtaking in designated turning lanes.

"It comes down to courtesy and common sense; and never get to the stage where you think you know it all.

"Look at Peter Brock. He was an experienced racing car driver, but even he couldn't avoid that accident."



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