WHAT, EXACTLY, ARE CHARLES' DRIVING INSTRUCTOR QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE?
Let me say at the outset that Charles' driving instructor qualifications and experience rank among Australia's most sustained, most extensive and most profound.
Charles' story begins at the age of five or six. He remembers how he fought to stay awake to feel that he was sharing his father’s late night driving. How the intense glow of the VW Bug’s high beams would spotlight his home’s tree-lined driveway. He learnt to ride a push-bike then. But it was not until his family moved to Melbourne’s middle suburbs that, aged 11, Charles began to become, through riding to school and back, keen, safe and skilful.
Several years later he remembers riding intensively around Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens as midnight approached to relieve the stress of difficult and intensive HSC study. Likewise in Edinburgh (Scotland) he delighted in riding off-road by the banks of fresh and meandering streams as well as riding in snow!
Charles’ driving experience began around the age of 9. His father let him sit behind the wheel of his manual (four on the tree) (German) Borgward. Then some tractor driving (which taught him to "set gas")! Later he felt the heaviness of the controls of his step-grandmother’s FE Holden.
PRE – AND POST – DRIVING TEST
Charles gained his drivers licence in Victoria in February 1971. His test preparation had included driving a (four on the floor) 1950 Austin A40 for fifteen hours around and through the steep, windy, twisty, narrow dirt and roughly sealed roads of Victoria’s Gippsland mountains!
At that time there were no provisional licences. Modern laws and policing against drink driving and the non-wearing of seat belts had not, despite Victoria’s 1970 ‘1034’ Road Toll campaign, yet been put in place. Six months later Charles crashed head-on into a suburban steel electricity pole in attempting a right turn at a wide traffic-lit intersection in his Peugeot 403 with four non-restrained passengers.
He and they were incredibly lucky to not suffer anything worse than one broken jaw. He was not breathalysed nor charged. He was, however, horrified enough to ban himself from driving for the next 18 months!
It was a gift from Charles’ father which enabled him to undertake a (then) ‘advanced’ driving course through the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria. Some years later, he buttressed that by an enriching day out at the ACT Police Driver Training facility.
Between 1976 and 1978 he further strengthened his driving skills through full-time taxi driving in Melbourne. At the same time he studied full time at Melbourne University for a Bachelor of Arts in psychosociology. (Psychosociology is that area of study which lies between psychology and sociology. It is one of the most relevant and helpful academic qualifications a driving instructor could have).
By then Charles had also gained his motorcycle licence. He survived almost two years of metropolitan and country riding (including two Melbourne winters and many group rides along the Great Ocean Road) without once falling off (nor involving himself in a collision)!
Charles undertook nine more months of taxi driving in Canberra to pay off his large consumer debt before settling down with his pregnant wife on a forested property just outside Grafton in early 1986.
A NEW DRIVING INSTRUCTOR
In mid-1987 two of the most experienced Driving School Proprietors in NSW selected Charles from 21 other applicants as their Grafton-based driving instructor for the Coffs Harbour franchise of ABC Driving School. At that time ABC was the largest driving school network in NSW. He passed his RTA Instructor’s licence test first time.
Charles quickly developed his own curriculum-based teaching style. He adapted the then Department of Main Roads’ (the predecessor to the Roads and Traffic Authority) Test Sheet for assessment purposes. He also incorporated it into his uniquely designed “Dynamic Defensive Driving” [‘3D’] WorkSheet for teaching purposes. It also better enabled his clients to privately practise structurally.
In the early ‘90s Charles undertook the newly-introduced compulsory Driving Instructor qualification – the Commercial Driving Instructors Course – at Kurri Kurri TAFE. He fully qualified in the shortest practical time.
Within another year he had obtained two further qualifications – the “Basic Methods of Instruction” certificate from Grafton TAFE and the “In-Car Assessor” certificate from Wetherall Park TAFE in Sydney. These two qualifications equipped him to train two Graftonians to become driving instructors over the next few months.
Charles wrote a comprehensive “Learn to Drive” manuscript which he submitted for commercial publication. Like almost all first efforts, it was refused. Later he became aware that the proprietor of one of NSW’s largest driving school networks had then only recently had his “Learn to Drive” book published.
From July 1987 to January 1993, in a community of some 25,000 people, Charles helped 508 people learn to drive.
Before moving from Grafton Charles worked for some three months with the (then) Emu Plains Driving School near Penrith. He gained valuable experience in a busy commercial environment. He often started very early in the morning then, late at night, contacted intending and actual clients.
A NEW LISMORE DRIVING SCHOOL PROPRIETOR
Charles opened the Dynamic Defensive Driving (‘3D’) School in Lismore (also serving the Ballina and Casino areas) in early May 1993. This was when the first objectively structured and internationally comparative driving test – the Driver Ability Road Test (DART) – was introduced in NSW. Serving an area of some 80,000 people, he helped more than 1000 people learn to drive within its first five years.
The introduction of Learner log books in March 2000 (at first 50 hours but increased to 120 hours in October 2009) helped kill off piratical and opportunistic commercial driving instructors. It also dealt a body blow to regionally-based professional (ethical) driving instructors. Even the introduction of “3 4 1” (3 hours accreditable in learners log books for every 1 hour of professional driving instruction up to 10 accreditable hours) has not itself encouraged learner drivers to establish a set of deepenable skills professionally at the start of their driving career.
Hopefully the Government will come positively to address this further.
As a single parent with a school-aged daughter, Charles found himself having to put his own driving skills at the service of the public by again driving taxis as a ‘relief’ driver within the Lismore Taxi Coop. Having assisted one owner for twelve years, this internet site's predecessor enabled Charles to bring that commitment to a close.
An unfolding appreciation of the increasing and overwhelming impact of digital technology in the learn-to-drive field led driving instructor Charles to embark on a three year campaign to refresh his senior industry qualifications. He addressed his personal fears of using emails and the internet by undertaking an Adult Community Education basic computing course in 2008. He then used those skills and technology over a nine month period to qualify (December 2009) for the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (Cert IV TAA) through Lismore’s Adult Community Education’s outstanding teacher, Linda Woodrow.
He has since upgraded its TAA units to TAE (Training and Education) units.
Charles thereby easily met the teaching requirement for the RTA to appoint him, in March 2010, as an Older Driver Assessor. He has since conducted more than 100 Older Driver Assessments in the Lismore, Ballina and Casino areas.
At the suggestion of his professional association, the NSW Driver Trainers Association (the only NSW driving instructors’ body affiliated with the National Australian Driver Trainers Association (ADTA)), Charles applied for and was granted his ‘Work with Children’ Certificate in December 2010.
In early 2011 Charles successfully applied to become an instructor with the national ‘Keys2Drive’ ('K2D') program. He has thereby helped more than 94 of his clients to rehearse typical (and responsible) ‘P’ plate-type driving whilst still on their ‘L’s. He is rated as a Platinum K2D Instructor.
Charles tackled the upgrade of his driving instructor qualification – Certificate IV in Transport and Logistics (Car Driving Instruction) (Cert. IV T & L (D. I.)) – from March to August 2011 through Australian Construction and Transport (ACT) Training.
The NRMA used ACT Training to set up its Safer Driving School network in NSW and the ACT. It is also one of the very few firms contracted by the RMS to audit NSW driving instructors. Sherryl, a proprietor of ACT, commented that Charles’ written work was “the best [she’d] ever seen”.
In short, Charles possesses what are presently Australia's most senior and contemporary driving instructor qualifications, more than a quarter-century’s worth of efficient and professional, educative and motivating driving instruction in both rural and urban communities, significant motorcycling experience and massive car driving experience (well over one million kilometres) – more than a quarter of which has been directly experienced by public passengers within a local community of some 45,000 people.
He continues to take a contented delight in helping each and every client to unfold themselves mindfully, inside to out, to a demonstrable dimensional depth of driving skill.
Truly a "third millenium" learning methodology!
Thank you for your attention,
Charles' Very Best Friend