REFLECTIONS ON 30 YEARS.
30 years ago, today, after three failed attempts, I obtained my driver’s licence. It was a clear Monday afternoon, and my instructor took a punt and booked my test without telling me and pulled up out the front of my house and asked if I was going for my test with him. “When?” I asked. “Now.” I rang my mother at her work to tell her and went with the instructor.
In my first test, I couldn’t reverse park, but in my fourth, I could. I remember the examiner asked me at one point why we stopped, and it was a terminating intersection, and I couldn’t see. I only obtained three single Fs and when we returned to the test centre, he had the clipboard folder closed. In previous tests, they hadn’t. He told me that being too cautious caused more accidents than not being cautious enough. He then wrote in the section marked result, just when I feared I’d failed again, “PASS.” I was delighted!
Unlike some young males, I did not treat my licence as a right, but as a privilege. I knew two young guys who’d landed in serious trouble for drag racing on a public road, and my first girlfriend didn’t share my beliefs, even though she didn’t drive. For example, I went to school with a girl whose father was always careful, if ever he went to an event where he’d be drinking, he’d give the keys to his wife. One night, he went to a party at the end of the street, and he thought, “It’ll be okay.” He was stopped and breath tested. He blew over and lost his licence for 12 months. Yet my first girlfriend would only let me have one drink if I was going to drive. She got drunk at a school reunion. I had a second drink, but as I also had a fair bit to eat, and several hours had elapsed since then and when I drove us home, I would not have registered anything most likely.
I have always had a fear of the police and I guess such a fear can help you to do the right thing. I have also cherished my licence. I remember a couple of months before I went onto my open licence, I saw a police officer who had pulled someone over for exceeding the speed limit in a 40km/h zone and as I drove past, the officer holding the speed gun didn’t even raise it to check my speed, he just smiled at me. I later told my father, who said, he was probably thinking, “I’ve got this driver bluffed.”
If somebody asked me if it was good luck or good driving, I would say, “Well, I’d say, 95% good driving and around 5% good luck.” My goal now is to see if I can get through the next 10 years with a clean driving record and from there the next ten years after that, and hopefully be one of the state’s oldest drivers in years to come.