My son is about to turn 19 and he hasn’t got his driver’s licence yet.
Victoria, like NSW requires learner drivers to complete a minimum of 120 hours of supervised driving experience before they can sit their driving test. In Victoria, you can obtain your Learners Permit at 17.
He began his supervised driving in January 2015 about two months after he turned 17. It has taken him 2 ½ years to reach the 100-hour mark. By October, he was still on 117 hours. He is crawling to the finish line.
And I’d like to know why.
It cannot be because of lack of opportunity. He’s the oldest in the family and has two parents willing to supervise his driving. We’ve made offers to take road trips to regional Victoria to build up precious hours .
Most are eschewed for a sleep-in.
LISTEN: How to avoid raising a Boofhead
It cannot be because of insufficient motivation.
He’s studying at Monash University, about 30 minutes’ drive from where we live. Either he catches a public bus or takes the university shuttle.
The shuttle is packed at peak hour so he either uses grunt to ensure he gets a spot on the bus or arrives sufficiently early to bag a spot in the queue. There’s some stress associated with ensuring he gets on the bus and arrive at lectures on time.
He is also straddling two jobs. They require him to be at an array of locations. I either give him a lift if it’s in the direction I’m going or he takes a tram. It’s a 10-minute walk to the tram. The journey takes him 30-40 minutes. It would take him 10 minutes to drive there.
And he has a girlfriend. Who also doesn’t have her licence. And she lives about 30 minutes away with no easy public transport available. They tram and train to meet each other. If it’s late, they catch an Uber. Lots of time is wasted and it can be expensive.
And what’s more, he has access to a car. We decided at the time he got his Learners Permit, it would be safer for him to practise driving in the car he is actually going to drive. It sits there, on the street, waiting to be used.
I asked him about the delay. He looked at me, shrugged and said he can’t explain it. But as my frustration grows, I need to understand why. So here goes:
– We have great chats in the car. It’s uninterrupted by the normal cacophony of family business and he has my undivided attention. It’s hard to find that time regularly outside the drives so he’s clinging on, prolonging the opportunity for deep and meaningful discussion with me.
– He’s just too busy to focus on it.
– Despite the logic of his licence ultimately saving him time, supervised driving is time consuming now, so he delays and defers.
– He’s internalised my fear of the roads namely, the chaotic and unpredictable behaviour of other drivers and just feels safer with an experienced driver next to him.
– He may not be ready for the independence which comes with a driver’s licence, the knowledge that he’s growing up and leaving his childhood behind.
Perhaps it’s a combination of all of the above.
But as we’re only a handful of hours away from the magic number, I’m channelling my inner secret service interrogation procedure as I fear I’ll only be drip-fed information post attainment of the licence.
And as my new reality beckons, I’m weighing up the inconvenience and imposition on my time of accompanying him to his array of obligations against having exclusive access to my son that will, from here on in, need to compete with far more attractive options than a chat with his mum.
LISTEN: Oops. I raised a Boofhead.