I glanced through a recent newspaper article at the weekend (will post a link if I can track down the fecker), which focused on the need for improved driving skills in Ireland. For overseas readers of me blog (if any), the article was printed following more than a month of carnage on Irish roads, with a horrifically increased number of deaths as compared to the same time last year (2005).
While the article is commendable - calling for cessation of the provisional licence scenario (where, for instance, individuals who fail a practical driving test can shake the hand of their examiner and then merrily rev on home), mandatory convex mirrors on HGVs, advanced driver lessons for motorcyclists, etc., etc.) - there was one glaring omission: defensive driving.
Unquestionably, education is the key to improving safety on the roads in this country. Defensive driving is increasingly a part of the training received by HGV drivers, bus drivers and so on; but it is not specifically, nor explicitly, a requirement for ordinary motorists, whether the concept be named or defined.
It may get a brief mention from the likes of the AA (PDF Document), or it may be alluded to (though not named as “defensive driving”) by the National Safety Council in its literature for motorcyclists (PDF Document), but it’s really not something that is discussed at all.
Given the appalling state of Ireland’s statistics for road deaths and injuries, I think it should be mandatory for all road users, without exception.
Incidentally, Canada’s Safety Council has a quiz on its website where you can test yourself on defensive driving.
Wonderfully, I got ten out of ten - and I don’t even drive a car. Hurrah for motorcyclists!
(Answers to the quiz can be found here.)