Verity Johnson is a writer, sometime comedian, presenter on the Paul Henry Show and big hair enthusiast.

I realised I was going to die. I could see the head­li­nes now. “Girl resem­bling sweaty pota­to found impaled on stu­pid plas­tic flow­er in her car.” 

Look,” sighed my dri­ving instruc­tor, “if you keep dri­ving 20km below the speed lim­it then I am going to fail you.” Ah. The restrict­ed test. Gate­way to adult­hood.

In the end I didn’t fail. I passed my restrict­ed dri­ving test at the peachy age of 20. Then I prompt­ly left to live over­seas in a large city and took pub­lic trans­port every­where. And I mean every­where. (I once tried to take it to a LARP­ing fes­ti­val held in a camp­site, in a forest, in a coun­try vil­lage, in the region of Total Arse End of Nowhere.)

Now I’ve arrived back in Auck­land, armed with a restrict­ed licence, a fourth-hand car and dri­ving skills that have with­ered like a two-day old daisy chain.

I’m ful­ly aware that I am the par­tial archi­tect of my own dri­ving mis­ery. I should have prac­tised more before going away, or prac­tised while away, or been the per­son in my friend group who had their full licence by 18.

But I didn’t, and now I am the cause of every traf­fic jam in Auck­land.

Not the sole cause obvi­ous­ly, but I feel the blame can be divid­ed fair­ly between me and the Gov­ern­ment. (Always blame the gov­ern­ment for every­thing; they’re such a won­der­ful­ly easy tar­get.)

But seri­ous­ly, WHY have they not intro­duced R plates? No, not every R dri­ver is as bad as me. But we still aren’t par­tic­u­lar­ly bril­liant. We need some­thing to alert peo­ple to the fact that we have the dri­ving skills of a par­tic­u­lar­ly dopey slug. We need R plates.

At the moment, not hav­ing R plates inten­si­fies the amount of hatred I cop on the road, ter­ri­fy­ing me, enrag­ing you and also ensur­ing that one of us will have a coro­nary in the next 30 sec­onds.

When we dri­ve we make snap deci­sions on oth­er dri­vers based on their appear­ance (Oh, a Granny? She’ll be slow. Oh, a teenager in a mini? She’ll be on her phone. Oh, a bald dude in a Merc? He’ll be dri­ving fast to show he’s Still Got It). We then abuse them accord­ing­ly, depend­ing on how much we think they deserve. You’re not as tough on a learn­er as you are on the old Merc dri­ver.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there is noth­ing to tell peo­ple that I am an R dri­ver.  They see a sen­si­ble young wom­an with a sen­si­ble car and sen­si­ble expres­sion. Peo­ple assume I’ve been dri­ving a while.

But I am the kakapo of the dri­ving world. I look like I can dri­ve just like the kakapo looks like it can fly. But we can’t. We both just wad­dle along,squawking fee­bly and nib­bling things. And as dri­vers find out that I am a fat green par­rot, crawl­ing along the left lane at a hair-rais­ing 12km an hour, they become apoplec­tic.

They expect­ed bet­ter. I’ve dis­ap­point­ed them. And I’ve dis­ap­point­ed them while dri­ving. In real life you’d be sym­pa­thet­ic to such a pathet­ic sight. But in dri­ving life, you just get even angri­er. You expect­ed some­thing, now you’ve had that whipped away, and you’re even more incensed than you’d nor­mal­ly be. And we’re nor­mal­ly pret­ty incensed. Dri­ving reduces us to irra­tional hulks of scream­ing emo­tions. Put the Dalai Lama in a Kiwi traf­fic jam and he’ll have dropped the c bomb by the sec­ond Suzuki swift.

And so they hoot. They make unset­tling hand ges­tures. And I, as all fat green par­rots do, respond to threats by pan­ick­ing and going very, very still. This just slows us down fur­ther, makes me an even worse dri­ver, and rais­es the chances of you smash­ing some­thing repeat­ed­ly with your head while scream­ing, “WHY, GOD, WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME NOW? I’M IN A RUSH TO SOMEWHERE I DON’T CARE ABOUT, WITH PEOPLE I DON’T LIKE, TO DRINK WINE I CAN’T STAND!”

Now if I had restrict­ed plates, peo­ple would expect me to be bad. They would make their abuse much more mod­er­ate. They’d accom­mo­date a high­er lev­el of inex­pe­ri­ence. They would still threat­en to decap­i­tate me — but per­haps with few­er cre­ative details.

At the moment they have no idea what to expect, and so react with beyond nor­mal rage and spit. Espe­cial­ly when I don’t realise the dif­fer­ence between the indi­ca­tor and the wind­screen wiper arms. (What­ev­er. They’re both pointy black wands.)

So, for everyone’s sake, can we please have R plates? I would be less scared, you would be less stressed, and we can both go back to abus­ing the bro in the Sub­aru Imprez­za.