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Photo Tania Emmitt-ClarkeLike most Australian children in the 70's, I used to ride my bicycle (before kids had bikes with gears) to and from school, a journey which involved pedaling up long steep hills, regardless of which way I was heading. It was during this torturous journey that I often used to dream of a small engine to help with the ascents. To make matters worse, the return trip was fraught with danger. A large savage dog would often lay in wait and charge out snarling and snapping as I hurriedly pushed my bike past. For years the return trip home was a game of Russian roulette: Would the dog be waiting? Maybe it was tied up today! Perhaps I could sneak past without it noticing! The anxiety I would feel at the thought of meeting my tormentor became so overpowering that I began taking a different route, a route which involved rough bush land. Believe me, snakes and scratched legs were less stressful than 'The Dog'. But the detour involved dragging my bicycle up a long, steep gravel track and it took me double the time to reach home. As is the case with most children, I eventually discovered the perfect solution to my problem . . . . I stopped riding my bike to school and I started catching the bus.

As soon as I was old enough I got that 'bike with a motor' and for the next 25 years I used my car and bike licence for travel and work throughout Australia and overseas. I was based in London for 6 years working as a motorcycle courier, a fabulous job that paid me to be a tourist. Each working day was a surprise made more enjoyable because I refused to wear a watch and would often take the scenic route to deliveries. I quickly learnt that survival on the roads required me to understand the limitations of my vehicle and to expect other road users to make poor choices that I must react to.

When I returned to Australia and settled back in Victoria, I worked for Vicroads for 4 years as a motorcycle trainer and car/bike tester before deciding to give up my 'full time' job to return to study and start a family. I remained a Vicroads Registered Licence Tester 'part time' and during the past 15 years I have trained approximately 3,500 Victorian motorcyclists, endeavoring to pass on enough information to keep them healthy and safe on the roads. Over the years many students have commented on how they have become more observant as car drivers because of their motorcycle training. After completing a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Linguistics) and with my children now school age, I decided to use my extensive experience in training to start a small business.

A chance conversation about someone’s fear of driving and the creative measures they would take to avoid it reminded me of my childhood bike riding experience so many years ago. This made me curious and I began to wonder how many other people may be out in the community with a fear of driving. From this curiosity my business was born. When developing a business plan I discovered a large unrecognised sector of the community has developed a fear of driving, a condition that can seriously reduce the quality of a sufferer's life. Fear Of Driving was created and designed in consultation with psychologists and driving instructors and it is, I believe, a long overdue lifeline to sufferers.

Tania Emmitt-Clarke

 

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