Imaging starting in second level education and receiving advice on your future Leaving Certificate the moment you start your first year: “you will probably fail”.
Even if the school didn’t know you they were going to base their judgement on your age and your gender, and what way you will turn out in life. Where this would not be excepted in the education system – it is excepted to judge how a young driver will turn out.
A friend of mine saved to get on the road since he was 13 years of age, doing small weekend jobs and planning some day that he would be driving his own car. He even had his car bought and all, and as he got nearer the legal age to drive, the insurance companies started their massive hikes starting with a loading on old cars like his to load the cost of a premium.
It’s not very popular for anyone to defend young drivers, because they all have been tarred with the same brush. They are judged before they start, based on the actions of a few. It’s okay for us to talk about young drivers and their actions, but it’s not okay to talk about older drivers that have serious accidents caused by problems that don’t fit into what a bad driver on our roads has been stereotyped to be.
Like for like
What message are we sending to our young drivers today?
Well before they even get behind the wheel. We have judged them to fail, my friend’s car cost him a third of the price that his insurance was going to cost. That’s not even like for like.
Where else in business would you find the highest paying customers treated as the lowest, and as if they were doing them a favour for taking three times the price of their car from them to let them on the road?
There are drivers on paper considered better drivers that these young male drivers because they tick all the right boxes.
I know one driver that told me that they point their car in the direction of their exit from a busy roundabout, close their eyes for a second or two and hope for the best. They were honest about their lack of confidence when they get behind the wheel, but on paper they are not a danger to other road users.
Unfortunately we live in a country where all we hear from is a judgemental public telling us where our young are going wrong. That’s all we want to hear. No one wants to hear the out roads have as many good young drivers on the road as they have bad older drivers.
Safety First Association Of Ireland
I came across an old suitcase in my grandfathers home, sifting through it I came across parchments rolled up and secured with an elastic band. The are Safety First Association of Ireland Awards which were presented to J. Coyle from 1957 to 1964. Johnny Coyle was my late uncle and drove an oil lorry for Irish Shell.
The first one presented to him 60 years ago was in 1957 when he received a “Safe driving” cert and medal. Over the following years he received a couple of more “Safe Driving” awards with his “Silver Driving Award” arriving in 1960 and the top award, a Gold Driving Award in 1964. I never seen these awards when he was living, and he never chatted about them but I only can assume that they were presented through his work driving an oil tanker for Irish Shell all those years ago.
Johnny Coyle was a young man in his 20s when he first received his driving awards in the 1950s. How times have changed since then.
Back then he got an opportunity to prove himself as a good safe driver; not just for the duration of his driving test but over a 7 year period looking at these certificates. I would be telling a lie if i didn’t say i am very proud of my uncle’s driving record from all those years ago.
My certificates and endorsements for driving over the years are not from the Safety First Association of Ireland unfortunately, but I wonder is it time for Ireland to look positively at what were are doing right on the road as well as what we are doing wrong?
The Motorists’ Mutual Association
In 1905 a small group of motoring enthusiasts came together to warn fellow drivers about speed traps. They called themselves the Motorists’ Mutual Association.
In response to the zealous police enforcement of driving restrictions at the time the group organised teams of cyclists who, through a combination of signals and salutes, assisted drivers to stay safe on the roads and avoid penalties.
A month later, as the group established an enthusiastic following among the motoring community, they settled upon a new name: The Automobile Association.
Over a century down the road and the AA are still going strong and over the years their word on the road is gospel. The could fix your car along the roadside, they could sell you insurance, they could advise you on where not to go to avoid a traffic jam.
More recently their surveys are used as a good reference point on drivers road behaviour. Their stats are referred to by anyone who wants to get a point across about driver behaviour.
We are at an all time low for young drivers in Ireland. Why would they listen to anyone if they have been judged before they take to the road?
If insurance companies claim that we have to pay over the odds to cover for drivers that are on the road without insurance, companies should reward young drivers that proved their safety through their driving over a extended period of time and return a share of their massive premiums to recognise their positive efforts.
The old Safety First Association of Ireland might be long gone, but someone needs to go down the same road again; be it the Road Safety Association, and have something that entitles you a reward for making the road in Ireland a safer place to be on.
I just love the old photo that Kathleen Hegarty dropped into me of her this week of her husband George’s first Morris Minor.
I can remember this car well when it was on the road. Lovely to look at it all these years on, complete with its single spotlight on the middle of the bumper, (all the trend back in those days) and the GTX stickers on the bonnet.
Thanks for the memories Kathleen.