Forget red-light runners or being stuck in rush-hour traffic jams. What had me yelling in my car this week was a radio news item about defensive driving courses. According to a University of Otago research paper, young drivers who take the courses are more likely to be caught committing traffic offences.
The research paper, published in the Journal of Safety Research, covered 3992 new drivers of which 49 per cent had taken part in a defensive driving course.
But according to the findings, once the course-attending drivers gained their full licence 40 per cent were more likely to receive a traffic offence notice.
The research authors suggested that a time discount should not be given for completing a defensive driving course.
Jeeze, could the research authors make it even less appealing for young drivers to attend such courses, I yelled at my car radio (while stuck in morning rush-hour traffic).
I’ve attended many defensive driving courses and every time I’ve come away with bad habits broken (no more tailgating for me) and great skills learned (checking the rear view frequently and look many cars ahead).
It’s hard enough getting young people to get their driver’s licence, let alone attend a course, so to give them an excuse not to improve their skills annoys me. As I’ve said in a previous editorial, I think attending advanced courses should be compulsory for young drivers.
Maybe the research authors should have studied how much support the young drivers received once they had their full licence. There’s the great TV ad campaign Voice of Wisdom for restricted drivers that advocates for parents to stay involved with their kids’ driving.
There’s no harm in that continuing for years to come.