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Young drivers need more instruction on country roads

Manitoba Women’s Institute says beginning drivers should be given hands-on practice on unpaved roads

Do young drivers get enough instruction on how to safely drive country roads?

The Manitoba Women’s Institute doesn’t think so, and wants hands-on practice on unpaved surfaces to be part of drivers’ education.

Beginning drivers should be required to spend a specified amount of time driving on gravel and other unpaved surfaces, said Justina Hop, a Vita-area farmer and institute member.

Instructors may talk about the dangers but you have to drive on loose gravel or ‘washboards’ to understand how treacherous they can be, she said.

Some country driving — with an experienced instructor at their side — would benefit all youth, not just rural ones, she added.

Sooner or later, many big-city drivers will find themselves on a gravel road with “absolutely no idea what to do,” she said.

Driving instructors take their students on gravel roads if they’re nearby and accessible, said a spokesperson for Manitoba Public Insurance, but conceded that doesn’t happen for most city kids. However, gravel roads aren’t inherently dangerous as long as motorists drive according to road conditions, and that is taught in drivers’ education, he added.

About the author

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Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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