Drivers need to learn not to drink and drive

By Michael McQuillan, NewsLeader
August 2, 2007

If you’re going to teach people to drive in a responsible way it makes sense they have a complete education, says Kaniz Dhirani, owner of Ladybug Driving School. So, she asks, why doesn’t provincially prescribed driver education include more awareness of impaired drivers?

Rather than dwell on this question, Dhirani is filling in this education gap by providing a seminar to her students on the dangers of impaired driving. She’s hoping other driving schools will follow her lead and the provincial government will eventually do the same.

“We as educators have a responsibility to educate, inform and guide young drivers to be safe, as well as other people on the road. We are a bridge between them being learners and getting their license,” said Dhirani. “The statistics regarding drinking and driving and drugs and driving are alarming and it somehow has to be dealt with. I believe that students don’t get enough information to make them aware of the consequences.”

Working with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and the New Westminster Police Service, Dhirani organized her first seminar last week for students attending Ladybug Driving School. While it’s not required that students learn about things such as the hazards of impaired driving, she plans to make it a mandatory part of her instruction.

All the information she’s read about impaired driving makes her believe it’s an area that has to be taught. And she also notes that impaired driving doesn’t just involve the use of alcohol and drugs. It can also include some medications and even the emotional state of the driver.

“As an educator, I know the stats, I know what is really imperative for them to learn – it’s not only driving straight, it’s driving safely. MADD has done incredible research and has got enormous resources that I found would help my students,” she said.

Her first seminar also included a member of the New Westminster Police who spoke on the penalties for those convicted of impaired driving.

The feedback from the seminar was positive and made Dhirani realize she was on the right track.

“I wish the government of B.C. would make it mandatory that driving schools take this initiative to inform their students about this. We spend a lot of time with our students and if we just informed them a little bit – maybe show them a video – we could reach a lot of people,” she said.

“We know that people who are serious about being safe will want to be part of this program.”

Dhirani came up with the idea to include impaired driving as part of her education after doing some research. Once she became aware, she was struck by the fact that it’s not mandatory. In order to change that she thinks driving schools should take the first step and the provincial government will follow suit.

“I’ve been reading a lot of research on driving, on driving instruction. Being in the position we’re in, we can really reach a lot of people and make a difference,” said Dhirani. “It will take some time but if it is taken seriously, we will be able to get where we want to with this and reach a lot of people.”

“I would love other driving schools to follow suit, because what is the goal here? The goal is to make sure those students, especially when they’re young. If we can get them to just watch a video clip of what speed does or drinking and driving does, something will click there with the students and we’ve done our part.”