Sometimes, it takes a teenager to highlight gaps in your knowledge.
I've learned over the past year how much I didn't know about the New Zealand road code.
I got my full licence at age 16 in America before graduated licence schemes were a thing.
I've been driving for more than three decades. Knock on wood, the only accidents I've had so far have been other drivers backing into my car (twice) or rear-ending me as I turned off the highway near my home (once).
I'm not a maniac. I don't speed (much) and rarely use my horn. Tailgaters wind me up but I don't slam my brakes to test the limits of their idiocy. Not yet, anyway.
I was surprised and sheepish when Miss 17 got her learner's licence a year ago and started quizzing me: Which lane do you use when turning right into a one-way street with two lanes? How long after sunset and before sunrise must you turn on your headlights? What is the maximum weight for an unbraked trailer and load? I took my best guess on the first two questions (right lane; 30 minutes) and pleaded ignorance on the third question (750kg).
The queries kept coming, each one a fly in the ointment of my driving confidence. Why couldn't I answer my daughter quickly and easily? I never had to sit a New Zealand driving test. I had held a licence from an exempt country for more than two years, so I could take an eye test, complete an application, pay a fee and convert my licence.
The system isn't robust enough to show who's current on the road code, and who's not.
As our traffic grows gnarlier and commute times increase, it's time to mandate a refresher course for experienced drivers.
NZME this week quoted Rotorua driving instructor Angela Koller, who believed people should be tested every 20 years to ensure they were the most competent drivers they could be.
"You just think, 'what has changed in all these years - even road rules change'."
And yet many of us aren't tested when we convert our overseas licences, and we may not have to sit an on-road safety check after age 75 unless a doctor recommends it.
Judging by the behaviour of other motorists, people of all ages would benefit from more testing. The past week alone has seen one motorcyclist killed in Mount Maunganui and another driver was seriously hurt in a crash that shut down State Highway 29 near Matamata. Another accident the same day on Highway 29A backed up traffic at least 2km.
The incidents are frustrating and tragic. And experts say many crashes are preventable.
We have an opportunity during the Indefinite Covid Pause to re-evaluate what's working and what's not working for drivers in Aotearoa. The 320 road fatalities in 2020 were similar to 2019's toll of 350.
This, despite April's national lockdown when we mostly stayed off the roads, and despite the lack of international tourists. Kiwi drivers are killing other Kiwi drivers and passengers - overseas motorists were at fault in just 5 per cent of fatal crashes in 2019.
We can engineer roads to be more forgiving. We can increase alcohol and drug testing. We also need to be better drivers.
This could happen through a combination of new government testing rules and corporate enticements, like discounted auto insurance for people who take defensive driving courses.
Experienced drivers would do well to sit with an instructor for an hour as she/he explains the whys and how-tos of the road.
I did this with my daughter as she prepared to take her restricted licence test. I listened from the back, in awe of the instructor's knowledge and embarrassed by my lack of it.
Today, Miss 17 critiques my skills when I'm behind the wheel.
"Your back didn't come off the seat before the railroad crossing," she'll say. "That's a critical error."
The restricted test is hard. Only 51 per cent of drivers taking the practical exam in Tauranga and 56 per cent in Rotorua pass.
"You're not using your side mirrors enough," says Miss 17. "That's a critical error."
I'm unsure whether I would pass a restricted test without first taking a few lessons.
Accidents often happen when we're complacent. We're driving the same route as always, mindlessly passing familiar signs and landmarks. That's when we speed, or get distracted - and veer off the road.
Driving while impaired from drugs, alcohol - even lack of sleep? You court disaster for yourself and others.
More testing won't solve our traffic woes, but as we're operating a potentially deadly weapon, we owe it to ourselves and each other to improve our knowledge of the rules and our skills.
Also, tailgaters need to quit tailgating. They're flippin' annoying - and dangerous.