What’s He Gone And Done?
Dunno what happens in other countries, but in Australia there is no such thing as drivers ed at school. Instead, when a teenager reaches the ripe old age of 16, they are eligible to sit a 30 question road rule theory exam, and, if they pass, they are “awarded” a learners drivers permit.
Then, they need to attain the age of 17 years and must have completed 100 to 120 hours of practical, on road driver training; either with a responsible adult, usually their parents, or a training school, before they can contest a practical driving test.
If they pass their practical driving test, they are granted a provisional drivers licence, their “P’s”, which they must hold blemish free for 3 years. They must also display the appropriate “P” plate during this time.
And as if that’s not enough, there are two stages to the “P’s” period: Red “P’s” for the first 12 months and green “P’s” for the remaining 24 months. If they make a mistake and get booked by Popo for something during this time, they can lose their licence for up to 6 months depending on the severity of the offence.
Once the suspension has been served they can start over.
The Bar Tender recently completed the first 12 months of his provisional drivers licence, and, after sitting a hazard perception test, progressed to his green provisional drivers licence; which he must hold, blemish free for the remaining 24 months.
Well, he lasted about 5 minutes on his green “P’s” before the inevitable happened.
The young bloke wandered into the lounge room and stood before The Pillion and I with an official looking document from the The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).
This could only have been one of few things:
- A notice of loss of licence because Popo had caught him being naughty, or
- A notice to appear before the magistrate because Popo had caught him being really naughty.
The Bar Tender handed the document to his mother, who’s demeanor, upon reading said document, changed from happy, to O-M-G.
“What’s he gone and done?” I asked, expecting the worst.
Without a word she handed me the document.
Suddenly, I was thrust into a world of two hats. I thought the “Dad” hat would fit best on this occasion.
You know what you’ve gotten yourself into, don’t you?” I asked.
“Yeah”. He said sheepishly while looking at the floor.
“You need to make sure you get this right son, there’s no room for mistakes with this”. I said.
“Can you help me, Dad?” The Bar Tender asked
“Sure.” I said as reassuringly as I could
After The Bar Tender left the room, The Pillion and I looked at each other, relieved it wasn’t one of the two scenarios mentioned above.
You see, in the state of Queensland you must have held a driver’s licence, provisional or otherwise, for a period of 12 months before you can learn to ride a motorcycle.
Yep you guessed it, The Bartender had been awarded a motorcycle learners permit.
I guess it was inevitable that one, or all of the kids would want to ride a motorcycle at some point. After all they’ve been around bikes for most of their lives.
Even though The Pillion is apprehensive about one of the kids riding a motorcycle, neither she, nor I, are going to stop them pursuing what they want to do. We will, however, guide and advise them where we can, and as best we can.
Personally, I have the view that if the training is the best he can get, precautions are taken and most importantly the attitude is adjusted correctly, then all that can initially be done, should be done. The rest is on them to make sure they continue getting it right.
For the record the only bikes the kids have ridden have been BMX bikes. Not because we didn’t allow motorcycles, but because the budget didn’t allow for them.
Single income and all that.
Having said that, The Bar Tender has ridden a small capacity dirt bike once on the sly out at a mates place.
I don’t know why it was on the sly, because I would’ve like to have gone and watched… I guess there is some child logic there somewhere.
Anyway, from my understanding, his experience was much the same as my experience last century, and he decided to stick to BMX bikes for the foreseeable future.
This being the case, I enlisted the assistance of a good friend who just happens to run a rider training school: Q-Ride Redlands
Noel does one-on-one tuition and is an accredited Q-Ride assessor; he also does post licence advanced defensive rider courses that allows people to push themselves a bit harder and learn more about the way their bike will react in a sticky situation.
I tagged along for the lads first lesson and was impressed by the way Noel conducted the training session.
It wasn’t just get on the bike this is the clutch, brake, throttle and away you go. He spent quite a bit of time going through the theory of riding a motorcycle, like road positioning, cornering, counter-steering and other topics as well.
The session The Bar Tender had was held at Lakeside Raceway not far from where we live. It’s a closed circuit and an ideal place for someone to learn to ride.
In fact there are several rider training schools which use the facility from time to time; everything from Q-Ride training through to track days.
It took the young bloke about 10 minutes to get up on two wheels un-assisted and a bout 20 minutes to get the hang of the clutch and throttle relationship. By the end of his session he was doing feet up U-turns, slalom through the witches hats and laps of the go-kart track.
I even got to follow him around and intimidate him for a bit on his first lesson… wait… did I just say that out loud?
Noel spent several sessions with The Bar Tender before putting him through the Q-Ride competency test.
This test varies state to state but generally it requires the learner to demonstrate competencies in basic maintenance, road craft, braking, defensive riding, high and low-speed manoeuvring and various other learnings.
So as of last week, the young bloke holds his RE class, or Restricted Engine, motorcycle licence.
This allows him to ride a bike approved under the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS – up to 660cc). There are other restrictions as well, like not carrying a pillion and a zero alcohol tolerance for the first 12 months.
Once 12 months have elapsed he can then upgrade to an open R class licence if he chooses.
I guess least with the RE class licence it will keep him off race replicas and other go fast bikes long enough for him to get some road smarts into his head.
Needless to say, I’ve given him speech about him being invisible to other road users and to not be blasé when out riding.
Falling off hurts.
There’s a lot for him to learn over the coming months.
We’ve already spoken about doing some intermediate and advanced riding courses together once he gets accustomed to riding and knows his bike inside out. He needs to learn those skills and I need stay current.
What I’m really looking forward to is riding with him and the other two kids when and if they ever decide to learn to ride.
As they say; a family that rides together…
Whats that you ask?
What was the second hat?
That would be the “Whoo-Hoo!” hat. 🙂
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