AGONY AUNT

Richard Harward, Mittagong NSW

MY AUNT Thelma was about 45 years of age when she decided she should learn to drive – in the days of manual-only transmissions.

One of her principal driving challenges was to master the clutch pedal and gearshift. All she managed to achieve was innumerable stalls and very embarrassing kangaroo hops.

It was obvious that Uncle Fred’s teaching methods were at fault, so she was sent to driving school to be cleansed of bad habits.

She must have set records for the number of driving lessons she consumed and the licence tests she failed. “The clutch is my friend” became “the clutch chastises” and she never attempted to drive again.

But consider this. If Aunt Thelma, with no mechanical aptitude or driving skills, was learning to drive today, she would be in an automatic, and out there among us.

Technology marches on and driving becomes deskilled in the process. Features such as parking assist, hill-hold, autonomous braking, lane-keeping systems and others may be regarded as advancements in safety, and some are. Some also let Aunt Thelma loose.