My Life, My Car: Two Sets of Pedals

My Life, My Car: Two Sets of Pedals

Lifestyle People

She’s been fascinated by cars and traffic signs since she was little, so her job is a childhood dream come true. Kateřina Pivrncová, driving instructor, teaches learners how to drive all vehicle types except motorbikes and tractors.

13. 8. 2018

Pivrncová gives lessons in a ŠKODA RAPID, a car she’s happy with. “It’s a very good and well-designed car, not just for training future drivers, but also for day-to-day use.” As an experienced instructor and driver, she appreciates its comfort, spaciousness, accessories, manageability and dynamic performance. The pupils themselves often praise the vehicle, and she claims that some of them even say they’ll consider buying one in the future.

Kateřina Pivrncová
driving instructor

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The pedals are used by the instructor to correct any potential errors the student might make.

BESIDES A RELIABLE CAR, LEARNERS ALSO NEED A FIRM HAND

Kateřina Pivrncová tries to teach her students so that they are fully prepared for the road. She warns them of all the various pitfalls, dangers and complications they may encounter behind the wheel. She says she is demanding and has high requirements when it comes to her students’ driving skills. She lives by the motto: train hard, fight easy. When it’s for learners’ own good, she can be strict. “I always try to explain to learners why I have or have not done something so they have a better grasp of what they need to do and what they must not do on the road,” she adds.

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DANGEROUS SITUATIONS ABOUND

You might think that the number of accidents depends mainly on traffic density. According to Pivrncová, however, the fault tends to lie with aggressive, arrogant drivers who show no respect even for a clearly marked driving school vehicle. She says she frequently finds herself in dangerous situations with her pupils, sometimes a few times a day.

She’s also had her fair share of minor accidents involving scratched or grazed bodywork – always the fault of another driver. If an accident were to be the fault of the driving school, she – as the instructor – would be liable. However, “that might not always be the case, as a situation may occur in which the learner bears liability,” she notes.

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YOUNG DRIVERS TODAY ARE BRIMMING WITH CONFIDENCE

Kateřina Pivrncová likes pupils who do their best to prepare conscientiously for each lesson, and who are reliable and focused. Not everyone is like that, however. She has noticed that the younger generation has a more careless, yet also more self-confident, approach to driving. She believes that some pupils have no interest in driving responsibly and safely, but just want to get a driving licence in order to elevate their social status. “Unfortunately their parents often encourage this approach,” she sighs.

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Pivrncová is dismissive of the stereotypes about male and female drivers: “Sure, you can pick out certain differences if you look, but recently the differences in the knowledge and driving skills of male and female drivers have become hazier.”

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ARROGANCE ON THE ROADS IS A BIG PROBLEM

According to Pivrncová, the most important qualities of a driver are patience, considerateness, tolerance and an ability to focus and anticipate situations before they happen. Not everything can be taught in driving lessons, however. “I don’t think that driving schools can really do much about aggression, arrogance, recklessness and the deliberate breaching of the most basic rules of polite behaviour and the law,” she notes, adding that greater surveillance and stricter penalties could help to improve the situation. She says that the situation differs from one country to another. “Each country has its own specific way of driving, depending on the mentality and behaviour of the population,” she claims.

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She sees opportunities in other areas of road safety, such as assessing older people’s driving ability. Besides regular medical check-ups for seniors, Pivrncová thinks suitable ways of regularly improving skills and knowledge, or psychological evaluations for drivers, could be considered.

In the Czech Republic and elsewhere, such as Slovakia and Hungary, there is zero tolerance of drink-driving. In contrast, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Croatia, Holland and Switzerland tolerate 0.05% blood alcohol content, while the UK and Ireland allow for 0.08% BAC. There has long been talk about doing away with zero tolerance, but Pivrncová is strongly opposed to this. “Our drivers would abuse it. And anyway, I think any amount of alcohol is a risk to safety.”

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10 QUICK QUESTIONS FOR KATEŘINA PIVRNCOVÁ

1. HOW WAS YOUR WORK DAY YESTERDAY?
Very hot. (laughs) Yesterday was just fine, just like the days before.

2. WHAT LED YOU TO BECOME A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR?
I love driving, I’m interested in machines, cars and using them.

K.Pivrncova-mirror

3. WHAT DO YOU MOST ENJOY ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I most appreciate the wide range of situations I find myself in, and the diversity of my pupils – from teenagers to pensioners. I get pleasure and satisfaction from teaching people.

4. AND WHAT MAKES YOU CROSS?
An unwillingness to cooperate, a lack of interest. Some of our learners take their driving test just as part of their general education, or because their parents or employer want them to. And that’s the wrong approach, obviously.

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5. WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FIRST DROVE A CAR?
Fantastic. That feeling of, “I’m driving a car!”. Just great.

6. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF THERE WERE NO CARS?
I don’t know; I guess I’d have to ride horses. (laughs)

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7. WHAT DO YOU THINK CARS WILL BE LIKE IN 20 YEARS?
Looking back 20 years, today’s cars are not that much different in their core principles. I don’t think anything revolutionary will occur in the next 20 years.

8. WHAT DID YOU MOST LIKE PLAYING AS A CHILD? WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE TOY?
If I remember correctly, I mainly played with plastic traffic signs and cars.

9. DO YOU HAVE ANY UNUSUAL OR FUNNY PERSONAL ANECDOTES INVOLVING A CAR?
There have been a lot over the years. Right now I can remember one lesson when all the front bulbs burnt out one after the other. It wasn’t anything to do with the electricity; they simply burnt out.

10. IF YOU COULD DRIVE A CAR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD IT BE?
Most probably Route 66.

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