Thursday, 28 January 2010


Tomorrow, MiniRRD turns 17. Tomorrow he becomes another one of those legally able to get behind the wheel of a car. He is desperate (BOY is he desperate!!) to start driving. Mrs RRD and I have heard little else from him in the past few weeks. He's not starting just yet; he needs some cash first, but this is, even so, a special milestone in his life.

Understandably, my thoughts turn to the youngsters who thought they could drive, who drove fast to impress their friends, who couldn't say no to just one more drink before we go home, to the 17 and 18 year olds whose families now spend each and every birthday grieving for their son or daughter, and so I send a plea to you, MiniRRD:

Remember, Son, that nothing is more precious than life, and no-one is more precious to me than you, your brothers, your sister and Mrs RRD.

Remember that you are not invincible.

Remember that it only takes a second, so take a minute, just to be safe.

Remember that it might not be you who can't drive, but that there are many out there who shouldn't be on the road - watch out for them, because they won't be watching out for you.

And remember, we all love you, and want you to stay safe, always.

Have a fab birthday tomorrow.


  1. Happy Birthday to your son. May be do what my dad a cop did (advancved drivers course + photos of a bad accident) before i got given any car keys scared the crap out of me never to speed ever. Then again im only here thanks to a BASIC doc,

  2. Once he has passed, do Pass Plus, because the experience doing the "bits you don't need to do to pass a test" is invaluable.

    And, something you'll no doubt have, that I cadged a lend off a mate, is the Police Advanced Drivers Handbook (Roadcraft). That book has taught me more about how to "drive" than 6 months of lessons ever did - all they were good for was "making a car move in a controlled fashion without breaking the law"...

  3. Hope he has a super birthday!
    Both my daughters have been driving for a while, both safely so far. One is now a paramedic so has done all the blue light training. But even long before that she had the same inate sense of "that driver over there is about to do something daft" that I have had most of my driving life. I used to take her on the local city bypass when she was learning, to learn how to drive on motorways (it's NOT, obviously) as that was even scarier than driving on real ones. She had the use of one of our cars - a diesel Clio, acceleration nil. And knew if she pranged it and it was her fault there was no chance of a replacement. And when a little old lady tried to hurry across the road in front of her, that lady survived because she was doing less than the 30 limit and was able to come to a controlled stop so the woman fell onto the car bonnet rather than being hit. She says she will never forget seeing the woman looking at her through the windscreen before she toppled onto the road. She couldn't swerve any further - there was a bus stop with 6 people on the one side and a car on the other.
    It remains super scary having your children in charge of a dangerous weapon. Hope you have strong nerves!

  4. This post prompts me to recall the occasion I tok my lad for a drive after he got his licence o the first attempt.

    Having trained on an intensive three week course years before on the 'system of car control' prior to driveng an emergency vehicle, I felt qualified in taking him, and his sisters for a post-test reality check on his/their driving abilities. Like Eileen's daughter, I am a defensive driver, and convinced of my prowess duly took them all out on a horror run, whereupon I would manufacture situations in which they would be horribly maimed or killed.

    Truth is, that driving is a modern right of passage. As you point out you are uniquelly qualified to explain the dangers of teenage 'it will not happen to me syndrome' while a vast majority of youngsters are very well equiped to not only drive well, but proficiently.

    In short, I explained that for the duration of the test they were adequate, but were not magically imbued with 30 years of road sense, and experience. However, I cannot help feeling we underestimate our children, and young drivers as a whole.

    I wish '17' the happiest of birthdays, and look forward to your wry observations, as I gird my loins for my granddaughters same rights of passage. Being a parent was enlightening. Being a grandparent is torture!!

    I would not change it for the world.

    Please note that the first car is always under-powered, and the stats say a new driver will prang in the first 12 months.

  5. Thank you, to all of you for your comments. Matt, Mrs RRD has investigated Pass Plus, and has decided that the £180 to put him through it will be money well spent...

  6. Bit late for your 17 year old RRD but might help others.

    I took my sister along to this:

    The club hires out private land and tracks and sets them up like normal roads with cones, roundabouts and traffic lights.

    Anyone over 21 with a car can take along their "under 17". You have to join before you turn 15. This stops those who just want to drive the week before their 17.

    The young drivers get instruction from advanced drivers and sit theory and practical tests. They also get the chance to do skidpan driving, first aid courses, drive HGVs and have talks from police, fire service etc.

    I took my sister along for a few years and as a result I think she is now a better driver than me!

  7. My dad took me for my first driving lesson after my 17 birthday... I nearly (that's nearly!) went into a letter box, I blamed my dad, he wasn't a good driving instructor! I've been driving 15 years now and no accidents yet! I hope your son enjoys his birthday and takes up driving soon, I also recommend the pass plus.

  8. Definitely joining on the Pass Plus recommendations, aside from the insurance benefits, it is really useful. My instructor took the big L sign off the roof for it as well, and it was so good having him with me when first driving without that massive warning to everybody around that I was a bit rubbish (passed first time and all, but new drivers are new drivers, lol). The motorway stuff is pretty useful if there aren't many duel carriageways in the test area. Been nearly two years now, and aside from an unfortunate incident involving my passenger side and a concrete pillar in a tiny underground carpark space (was never taught bay parking for the test, doh!), and being rear-ended by some numpty at about 10mph, I've done done myself much damage yet. I started learning at 19, passed just before 20, the plan was 17 but life (and illness, grrr), got in the way; though looking back I sure don't regret those extra two years getting drunk and catching the night bus with mates, rather than sticking to Red Bull and ferrying people home hoping they don't spew in my car, as would have been if I learnt back then! (Luckily, whilst I'm still on the Red Bull and lifts, 20-something friends slightly less pukey than 17-years-old friends :) ).

    Good luck to him! And to you, with the worrying! My dad always says you think the first 18 years are the hardest because after that they're out of your hair, but then they leave home and you have all the old worry, but none of the ability to watch over and sort out and it's so much worse.

  9. I'm glad my advice has been useful.

    I loved it, 2 x 3 hour sessions deliberately going as far away from the test area as possible.
    Like I say, highly recommended to anyone! :-)

  10. What a great post...

    I'm going to save this in my bookmarks - and come back to it in approximately 15 years time when our daughter starts out on her driving adventure!

  11. hi, this is the first blog i have read and it is very good, can't wait for more
    and happy driving miniRDD

  12. Ahh, thank you, Noah. I'm pleased that you have enjoyed your first blog, especially as you are one of my very own MicroRRD's!!