Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Ducking and driving

The Quiet Man, prompted by a Telegraph article suggesting that young people are deterred from driving by the behaviour of other motorists, offers an alternative view:

'There may be a few young people put off driving by other angry drivers, but the real reason a lot of young people don't learn to drive is cost.'

With a learner driver in the family and citing people he knows on jobseekers' allowance, he is certainly in a position to appreciate just how much financial outlay is required to get a new driver on the road - a law-abiding one, at least.

For the less scrupulous, however, the burden of tuition, tests, insurance and tax is less of an imposition. A few miles from the Tavern is an estate notorious for collisions involving unqualified and uninsured drivers; this almost certainly explains the extortionate insurance premiums generated by our postcode.

In a scenario that is becoming increasingly familiar in our society, the lawbreakers have free rein while the more conscientious lose out on opportunities because they cannot afford the expense - in part because the costs are higher thanks to those who avoid them.

According to the Telegraph article, Twenty years ago, 48 per cent of those aged 17-20 could drive. Now, it’s 35 per cent. Frankly, I'm surprised it's that high, given the GCSE pass rates and the difficulty of the new theory test; there must be significant correlation between academic performance and the ability to pass a driving test.

Unfortunately for those of us who obey the rules, however, that 35% is presumably the proportion of 17-20 year-olds out there who have full licences (and by extension, probably insurance); the number actually on the roads is quite another matter.

While we're on the subject, spare a thought for a friend whose formidable mother had unwisely laid on a lavish family gathering - plus new girlfriend - to greet his triumphant return from his driving test just before his 18th birthday. Entering to the sound of champagne corks and cheers, he panicked and found himself unable to tell them that he had actually failed.

He went along with the deception for several weeks, having secretly booked a re-test. However, his mother finally insisted on him collecting her from the station and, following an incident in which a signpost definitely came off worst, he was picked up and charged. Fortunately for my friend, his mother (a well-known and vociferous pillar of the local community) appears to have been accepted as mitigating circumstances.


  1. "... there must be significant correlation between academic performance and the ability to pass a driving test."

    Well, I passed first time*... :)

    * and no-one was more surprised than me!

  2. I passed first time too. A wheel fell off my first car while driving along the M1. Happy days.

  3. Belated congratulations to you both!

    I, too, passed first time*, but to judge by the experiences of the Urchin and his friends, it's a very different matter nowadays.
    According to the local centre, 50% of candidates fail the practical test first time and there is a similar failure rate for the theory.

    *...which may have been something to do with being eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time; the expression on the examiner's face was a picture!

    It was only afterwards that I discovered that the previous week's episode of 'Casualty' had featured a mother going into stress-induced early labour.