Purfleet, by Allister Webb: August 15, 2017
I was a bit of a slow starter when it came to driving and, even if I have grown to tolerate it over the years, I’ve never really developed an enjoyment of it.
For many of my contemporaries, as I suppose it always has been, reaching the threshold of their 17th birthday soon meant hitting the road in an apparent race to ditch the L plates and head for freedom.
It wasn’t like that for me. I only ever learnt to drive once I started work because, prior to that, I didn’t have a need to do so.
At university, I was living in a city with good public transport links and most of the places I needed to get to regularly were within walking distance so a car simply wasn’t needed.
Even now, I drive because I have to, not because I want to. If I can take a train to my destination, instead of driving, I do, mainly because it means I can either sit back and relax during the journey or get things done. Besides which, the apparent freedom of motoring always seems to come at a cost, whether it’s the regular expense of fuel or anything else.
A few years ago, I had quite an old car which, rather dispiritingly, was valued by a well-known website at about the same price as the petrol I was putting in its tank to run it.
But, when I heard over the weekend that learner drivers will be allowed to drive on motorways under supervision from next year, I couldn’t help wishing that I’d been able to do that when I was learning.
It might not be immediately useful round here, given that the nearest motorway is either near Peterborough or Cambridge, but I’ve always felt I would have benefitted from some form of additional training on them before being let loose on them on my own.
One of my brothers, who now lives in Yorkshire, did take extra motorway lessons, which were particularly useful to him as you’d struggle to get anywhere very easily without using at least part of the M62.
But, even now, more than 10 years after I passed my test (second time round if you were wondering), I still have a certain degree of nervousness when first joining a motorway.
Yet it’s probably the one type of road that, once I’m on it, I don’t mind driving that much. Not because I fly along in the outside lane at a lot more than 70 miles per hour either. I don’t think my little car would stand that for very long.
But you can get on with your journey more than on a normal single carriageway road. If you give young drivers experience of motorway driving with supervision, that should make it less daunting for them when they use them unsupervised for the first time and thus make the entire network safer for everyone.
And, if there are people who aren’t keen on the idea, I daresay you too were learners once. Would you have benefited from it?