Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Good Advice from 'Papa'.

Friday 18th January

"Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."
Ernest 'Papa' Hemingway

I imagine Ernest Hemingway would be horrified by this blog. I tend to write as I speak but given that people are often asking me to repeat what I say, it is perhaps not the best way to write. What I do try to do though is stay positive. More importantly, what I also attempt is to pull a positive result from a negative circumstances.
Well, we all do, don't we?

Those interested in my reckless and deeply regrettable behaviour of last summer might be interested to know that I've successfully completed the DVLA 'Alcohol Awareness Courses'. These courses are offered by the DVLA to drivers in lieu of longer driving licence suspensions and in my case has had the result of reducing my suspension from twelve months - the minimum that a magistrate can impose - to nine. But while that is a positive outcome for me, that's not the reason for blogging about it.

No, more importantly this procedure has been in place for a decade or so and has been has proven to be a great success in preventing repeat offences. This was one of the points made at the start of the courses and 25 hours later, I could clearly see why. And while that first cold & wet Saturday morning outside the Salvation Army hall in Ashford presented in my mind all of the expectation that that image suggests, it wasn't anything like I'd anticipated. Frank discussions, practical science and a range of anecdotal evidence from both the course instructors and participants completely reassessed my point of view when it comes to having a pint and then getting in the car. Moreover, some of the revelations about the longer term effects of alcohol & metabolic rates came as a complete shock, particularly regards getting in the car the morning after a few drinks the night before; things that I suspect we all think that we already know, but given the 100,000 convicted drivers each year in the UK, clearly don't.

In fact, all of the people I have spoken to about elements of the courses have expressed similar surprise, both at the content and the fact that such simple and yet unknown facts are not part of the driving licence test. The conclusion among my peers is that rather than simply running periodic advertising campaigns, The DoT ought to make this sort of course a mandatory one for new drivers too in order to fully & comprehensively educate about the effects of alcohol before a licence is issued.

I fully agree.
And with that in mind I've written to our MP, Michael Gove in order to explain this whole process to him and to lobby for such a measure.

I'll leave the last word on this to Ernest Hemingway:

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.
Most people never listen".


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