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Old 11th June 2019, 13:00   #16
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Default re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

what you did (and also, what you did not do) when learning to drive

I had the basic idea about a car from teenage, since there were cars available at the house driven by dad and uncle. However, it was pure lethargy from my end that I could not learn driving when my dad offered to teach me the same, as he wanted me to rise early morning for the sessions !
So when I had to learn driving for survival in the USA, it was achieved by reading the New Jersey MVC manual to pass the knowledge test & taking classes for 6 hours (which included all essential skills training) to pass the road test.
New Jersey tested drivers in a closed course, and one has to pass each of the following in order to pass the road test, which I did in first attempt.
  • Driving in reverse
  • Stopping at appropriate signs
  • Nearing corners or intersections
  • Stopping smoothly
  • Sitting properly
  • Turning around
  • Steering properly
  • Parallel parking
  • Yielding to right-of-way

if you are asked to teach another person to drive, what would you like to do (or not do) that would be different from how you were taught.

If one is a complete newbie, I would leave the road training part to a professional in a dual control car and not attempt to teach driving to anyone on public roads in a regular car. What I would concentrate on is teaching the road rules, signage, driving courtesy & defensive driving. I think driving manuals of advanced countries are pretty much all inclusive on the rules & skills part, and only thing I would add to them is how to negotiate the unpredictable nature of traffic in India. I know a lot of people who used to drive in the USA but are too afraid to take the wheels back in India.

How confident are you about handling your vehicle (whether 4 wheels or 2) now?

Very confident (4 wheeler), as I regularly navigate through super congested roads filled with pedestrian and other motorized / non motorized vehicles of all shapes and sizes. Also, my basic training enables me to drive confidently on fast expressways. I , however, do not drive very fast on Indian expressways as they are not access controlled and any speed over 80 kmph is not safe IMO. I can cite multiple first hand accounts of people crossing expressways on a cycle / talking on phone / talking to each other / with a loaded cycle van of goods etc.
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Old 11th June 2019, 13:09   #17
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Default re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
what you did (and also, what you did not do) when learning to drive, and if you are asked to teach another person to drive, what would you like to do (or not do) that would be different from how you were taught. Also, how confident are you about handling your vehicle (whether 4 wheels or 2) now?
I learnt to drive out of my passion for automobiles. I learnt about the basics when I was in school, how the engine works, how clutch and braking system works and titbits like the mechanism of cooling system etc. I used to read wikihow and related websites for all this kind of stuff.

When I turned 18, my father allowed me to ride a 2 stroke scooter and I learned it in a flick. Slowly I learnt driving with basics like learning to shift the gear with engine off. I started reversing and parking the car for my dad in the evening. Parents also had this trust by now and they allowed me to drive with them present as passengers. When my parents were confident that he will be able to drive alone, then only I got to take the car formally all alone out of the house. Now it is around a decade since I am driving. How time flies!

I insist all parents let their kids drive only when they are 18 and handover a vehicle to them only when they are confident enough.

As they say, charity begins at home. So instead of cribbing about how poor the system is by the government, the parents should take charge of their children on when to let them drive and how to make them learn to drive safely before they are out on their own on the roads!
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Old 12th June 2019, 10:32   #18
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie how to drive/ride safe?

I am so happy to read all the detailed answers. Thank you all, and I look forward to more such details of your experiences.

I'm going to describe how I taught my daughter to drive. When teaching her to drive, we started off the other way round - no theory or road sign memorization at all. In fact, she's been travelling so much by road, she had been quite familiar with the common ones already.

For the first week (yes indeed, one whole week!), she would sit in a static car for 30 minutes each day, shifting gears. I'd call out the gear numbers at random, and she would attempt to shift into that gear while pressing the clutch pedal, from the previous gear with eyes closed. Also, she would turn on the indicators to the side I would call out; turn on and off the headlamps, flash the high beam, touch the accelerator with her foot, and on a call of "slow down" she would take the foot off the A-pedal and place it on the B-pedal. If I called out "brake", she would hit the B-pedal with maximum force possible. All of this, with her eyes closed! At the end of the week, she could do everything correctly, without needing to open her eyes and check, including changing channels and regulating the volume on the ICE.

She was a willing learner, but a few others I've taught initially resisted the idea. But then, I've been insistent. The main reason is that using the vehicle's controls should come as a second nature to the person driving, so that they don't need to take their eyes off the road even for a second, to find the control stalks, levers and pedals.

When a newbie starts driving, this familiarization with a car's controls is absent. The right foot is not trained to switch instinctively from A- to B-pedal - and that's the major reason for runaway crashes, where the driver jams down on the accelerator instead of the brake in a panic situation.

The left foot and left hand are not synchronized to press the C-pedal and shift gears simultaneously - so a newbie driver would often look down to see what gear s/he is in, and/or to find the C-pedal, or even continue to be in the wrong gear just to avoid a gear change. Now that we know that there's no DL available for drivers of automatics (Donít know how to drive a manual car? No licence for you, says RTO), this left-hand-left-foot synchronization becomes all the more important!

In addition, controlling the indicator also needs to be part of instinctive driving. Adjusting the ICE (even with steering mounted controls) also causes the newbie driver to take eyes off the road - so it's probably best to forbid music in the car for a newbie driver.
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Old 12th June 2019, 10:44   #19
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

My elder brother (and my driving coach), learnt driving by reading the car manual.

Yes, the car manual has most of the things that one would need to get started - details on the car, the engine, taking care of the car.

I believe the manual is indeed a good starting point.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:00   #20
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

While I am still in the learning stage (its a never ending process), despite getting my license over 7/9 years ago (car/scooter), I have taught two of my friends.

Case 1: He already had a license and needed 'practice'.

Case 2: Started from scratch including applying for Learner's license.

1st one was a real challenge. I first had to make him unlearn what a famous driving school had taught him. It took a long time till I was confident of even allowing him to drive on an empty road. We usually had 3-4 sessions a month and even after 4 months, sadly I'm not confident of his driving skills.

Case 2 was brilliant: Since there was no prior experience / half knowledge, could teach everything about driving a car in about 10-12 sessions. After this took 4-5 highway trips and I was confident that he's become a good driver.

Some points I'd like to share from these 2:
1. Practise alone makes perfect. The more you drive, the better you get.
2. Lead by example, even when not teaching - eg. not using phone at all, stopping at side if you want to attend a call, using seatbelts, mirror adjustment when on a new car, proper posture and steering positions,
3. Be courteous to others, especially those crossing the roads.
4. Getting used to a car is critical. Today, after driving so many cars, I can get used to a new one in a couple of hours, but initially took me a while to switch cars and get comfortable.
5. If you don't have a car, after learning to drive keep hiring Zoomcar etc. to keep in touch with driving.
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Old 12th June 2019, 13:25   #21
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

If I have to teach someone how to drive, I would stress on the following points:

1) No changing lanes just because that lane is moving faster - A very annoying habit that we Indians possess is to change lanes abruptly thereby annoying the driver behind you. Stick to your lane. The time difference is going to be a few minutes, not hours.

2) Honking - Not honking at all is just not possible in India. However, I would advise the new driver to honk ONLY when necessary. I myself hardly honk and absolutely hate it when someone behind me honks for absolutely no reason. It's like a habit that they can't get rid of.

3) No stopping over the Zebra crossing - Another irritating habit. Its like the crossing just does not exist. Pedestrians should be given preference

4) If you are late, you are late. Don't become a nuisance to others just because you have to reach on time - It's one thing if you have an emergency but it is just inexcusable if you drive like a maniac simply because you are late to meet your friend.

5) Be considerate towards bikers - Yes I know that they can be extremely annoying at times but do know that one wrong move can be fatal for them. Give them the benefit of doubt.

And most importantly

6) Keep your calm - We have all encountered road rage. It can get extremely ugly. Be calm and don't do anything that you'd regret later. Its just not worth it. You have a family waiting for you.
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Old 12th June 2019, 13:46   #22
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

How I taught driving to my wife (and cancelled her DL later):

I was very proud when she learnt driving at Maruti driving School. Technically, she was all sound, with good knowledge on how to release clutch on slopes, parallel parking etc. Then I taught her the same in our society parking, early morning drives etc. But the one thing she could not learn is understanding the surroundings and mentality of people. After two close shaves and one accident (that was on her scooter), I told her not to drive or ride the scooter.

Instance #1: She was driving the car and saw a man about to cross the road, I asked her to slow down, but her answer was 'Why ? he can see my car, he will stop', and as expected to me, the man started running across the road knowing he could make it and she slammed the brakes hard in panic. He was too far to hit the car but someone would have rear-ended our car.

Instance #2: Going too fast at junctions. Not that there was a problem, but it would have been catastrophic if there was another vehicle crossing. This is when she had 'learnt' driving and despite several 'advisories' from me.

Instance #3: When a bike crashed into her scooter from behind. She did not look in the rear view mirror to see who is following her before moving to the right to take a u-turn near the office. Broke her hand. Major injuries were avoided just because I had shouted at her to wear thick shoes and the leather jacket, along with the helmet. That was the final straw. Just two weeks before that, she tried to go over a rough patch at some speed and fell down, no injuries.

If there are so many issues with learning and implementing basics, then its better not to hand the car/bike over to a person as he is endangering himself and others as well on the road.

My father taught me to drive/ride before I went to a driving school just as a formality to get my DL. He used to constantly talk about surroundings (mostly with verbal abuse ) like,
"look ahead, that **** autorickshaw is not going to show any indicator before cutting lanes",
"That dumb lady wont hear you honking, so slow down",
"Never, ever, get too close to buses and trucks, especially on their sides"
"Why are you so close to the vehicle ahead of you, idiot ??"
"When you see a truck far away, its difficult to gauge his speed, so slow down as soon as you start getting closer, it might just be stopped in the middle of the road" (This one particularly has helped me a lot)

He also used to tell me the possibilities in case I made mistakes: like "If you become the reason for someone's death/injury, you might end up losing your job, your money, not to mention the court cases you will have to fight for the rest of your life, not getting married" and stuff like that.

After all these years of driving, I've realized that driving in city is easier for newbies, as you drive slowly anyway and the chances of serious mishaps is less. The important test is how one plans his driving or reacts at higher speeds. Unfortunately, in our country that is not taught. I see so many accidents of rear-ending on highways these days on our accidents page that I am more concerned about someone rear-ending me.

My two cents on teaching:
- Practice a lot to get the basics right during training. Releasing clutch, driving on slopes, parallel parking etc.
- Make sure you are aware of how people behave on roads. Read a lot (team-bhp's accidents page) or watch videos on how people make mistakes. Try to process that information and apply it when you drive.
- Never overspeed, it just reduces your reaction time.
- Don't get angry when someone does not follow rules, or let your ego get over you when someone abuses you for being right. Just let things go. Safety of yourself and your passengers is most important.
- And if one still makes mistakes, just surrender the license or refrain from driving as much as possible. Its perfectly OK to not fail in driving. We have taxis and autorickshaws for the same reason.
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Old 12th June 2019, 13:59   #23
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
I am looking forward to more folks and their experiences, not about how they learnt to drive, but about the issues they faced when teaching someone else to drive.

Also, having learnt to drive, and after regularly driving for some years, do any of you feel that you could have been taught better?
Let me pitch in with a few points:

1. When we are teaching driving to a family member in our personal car, our biggest fear is that they may cause a scratch or dent in the car during the learning process. This fear makes us over cautious and creates unnecessary tension for the learner, who is already quite sensitive during the learning phase. If possible, one should buy a small second hand car, which can be used to learn driving and later for acquiring more proficiency in driving and parking. Scratches and dents on this car would not hurt so much and the tension for the learner and teacher would reduce.

2. Second point of worry for us, while teaching driving to a family member, is that they may cause harm to someone else's property because of lack of control over the vehicle. To avoid this, my suggestion is to teach driving in an isolated area (like a ground) till the learner has acquired enough skill and confidence to be able to drive on public roads, even if it means having to drive half way across the city. Such grounds can be found in smaller cities, but may be difficult to find in a metro city.

3. It would be a good idea to teach driving using a car which is learner friendly. Meaning, the car should have compact dimensions, good all round visibility, sorted ergonomics, light controls, adequate power (especially low end torque) and preferably a popular model (so that spares are easy to find in case of accidental damages).

4. Finally, try not to pass on your 15-20 years of experience in a single session. Teach the student at a pace which is comfortable for them. Concentrate on one major aspect in one day and make them practice it multiple times. For example, first day can be about just moving the car from standstill and bringing it back to halt, second day can be learning steering control and slotting to second gear, third day can be focused on reversing and parking, fourth day for stopping and starting from inclines and fifth day can be used to slowly increase speed and reach third and fourth gears.

Sometimes it helps to learn from a total stranger, instead of having a family member sitting next to you while you make your mistakes. I really benefited from having learnt the basics of car driving from a professional driving school.


Last edited by rohan_iitr : 12th June 2019 at 14:05.
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Old 12th June 2019, 14:30   #24
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
For the first week (yes indeed, one whole week!), she would sit in a static car for 30 minutes each day, shifting gears.... At the end of the week, she could do everything correctly...
very good tip, thanks for sharing.

Originally Posted by blackwasp View Post
... Practice alone makes perfect... Lead by example... Be courteous to others... after learning to drive keep hiring Zoomcar...
Good points blackwasp. Being courteous is a great virtue. In our roads people have no patience, there is always a rat race. Hardly a day passes without a gaali.

Coming to the Zoomcar, I think it has become a norm/menace people learn driving in Zoomcars. The kind of things I have seen by novice Zoomers, my instincts have upgraded as Zoom == Danger, keep safe distance.

Last edited by Thermodynamics : 12th June 2019 at 14:37.
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Old 12th June 2019, 14:56   #25
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

Few points which my Dad taught me and I still follow them
  • Never ever overtake on curves/bends
  • Always give way to heavy vehicles & vehicles going uphill
  • Freeze your right heel and move your toe/ball between A & B pedals. Your full foot should never rest on floor
  • Keep your eyes far ahead on road
  • While driving always do a quick rear & side scan every now & then

I belong to Uttarakhand and have grown up driving in the hills. Most of the points above relate to that experience. Point no. 3 is to avoid hitting accelerator instead of brakes and the reason I don't feel cruise controls safe
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Old 12th June 2019, 15:13   #26
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

Originally Posted by NiInJa View Post
How I taught driving to my wife (and cancelled her DL later):
How I feel..

I tried teaching driving to my wife back in 2014, when I had the old Getz. She had license for several years, although she rode a two wheeler only, until then.

She learnt the basics and then she started questioning on the similar lines. Why she should slow down etc and if I got upset, she would said that she knew and she would manage.

Once, she almost hit a pedestrian and that was it. I gave her the choice of either following my direction or dropping the learning plan. She chose the later fuming that she would learn on her own.

Which never happened.
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Old 12th June 2019, 15:25   #27
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

I always tell people that I learnt driving in class 10 while sitting in the front passenger seat and observing each and every move my father made in the driver's seat. However, I started driving after I got my learner's license at the legal age (2007).

My dad was very particular with the latter. He neither encouraged me to drive nor did he allow the car to be seen as common use household item that I would be entitled to.

My thoughts on driving is that its a continuous process of learning. Your'e never perfect. If you think so, just remember the first time you learnt something new. For example:
  • Remembering to slow down when crossing populated areas on the highways
  • A stopped bus on a highway is almost certainly going to have people (invisible to you) crossing the road
  • The ride of your car becomes harsh when the tyres need a replacement
  • The jack in your car doesn't go back in as easily as it comes out
  • The feeling of vulnerability when the first time your headlamp went out on a road trip
  • Realizing to check your speed when you panic braked for the first time, in the fog
  • How you realized people going downhill give way to drivers going uphill
  • What a tyre burst feels like and being surprised by your reactions to be able to safely stop

A few points I remember from my days of learning to drive which I would also like to share are:
  1. Your right knee is going to hurt for a few days while you get accustomed to keeping your foot on the accelerator.
  2. Do not swerve to avoid obstacles, almost always try to brake and shed the speed rather than going in other lanes by swerving.
  3. You have to get a feel of highway driving (keeping to lane while passing trucks at 90 kmph) and feel confident about it
  4. Keep an eye out for the signals truckers give you. 9 times out of 10 they are more aware of your convenience/safety than you are of theirs.
  5. Have a light but sure grip on the steering, avoid getting cramps and sweaty hands.
  6. Don't rest your foot on the clutch, keeps you away from the bad habit described in the next point and greater clutch live.
  7. Don't de-clutch at the first sight of a need to shed speed, it cuts off the braking effect provided by the engine and makes the ride jerky for everyone in the car. Use the brake first and then the clutch to put the car into the required lower gear.
  8. Put the car in the right gear before negotiating a turn, leave you with one less thing to worry about and lets you have both hands on the steering wheel during the turn.
  9. Do not coast in neutral, as it has no advantage at all.
  10. Avoiding ruts, potholes and craters is going to help you avoid punctures, since they have a greater chance of having nails, screws etc. and also can give you sidewall and rim damage at speed.
  11. Do not put force on the steering at full lock, that way you increase the life of your power steering system.
  12. Do not park in gear until extremely necessary.
  13. When parking on a slope, point the steering wheel in a direction so that the car rolls into the roadside kerb rather than into the street and eventually gaining unstoppable momentum.
  14. Always start the car, in neutral with the clutch disengaged and a foot on the brakes.

I also want to share the sense of achievement I felt when I had finally got my DL. The sense of achievement soon turned into a sense of supremacy over the course of next 8 years ... until, I had the first brush with a dump truck which put a sizable and horrible dent across the side of my first car which was just 6 months old. This was in crawling traffic (5-10 kmph). You ask me how? I'll tell you what I forgot that day:
  • Truck drivers have blind spots in proportion to their vehicle
  • Not to overtake from the left
  • Not to get irritated by incessant honkers right behind you

Keep learning. Keep driving.
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Old 12th June 2019, 16:37   #28
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

Whatever we say about the manuals or a study material or a proper training method, it's all in mindset. We have too casual attitude to every safety aspect.
1. We don't respect authority. Ultimately our people will tell the trainer, "Boss I am paying money and I want the license". Even they will not be willing to lose money
2. Who will execute the policy. We are way too corrupt as a population to be affected by rules.
3. Attitude: Chalta hai, my car I will drive the way I like. I paid taxes so I can drive in any lane. Our attitude is I have paid my tax and hence my duty is done. I have only rights now
4. It's we as a culture to be blamed. Our people don't bother with airbag, ABS for cars and Helmets for bikes. It will take a lot of effort to change the mindset towards safety

Once one of my customers had told this, " We are indisciplined because we skipped the industrial revolution. We jumped from Agrarian to Service economy. In western world the industrial revolution taught discipline to people and this percolated to other aspects of life. We are in a colonial hangover of entitlement for everything. We all believe we should get the best but no one wants to put the effort at home"

Last edited by Aditya : 12th June 2019 at 17:56. Reason: Typo
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Old 12th June 2019, 16:38   #29
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

What I was taught
To operate the vehicle without stalling and move it in the desired manner (driving school)

What I was tested on (circa 2001, Kozhikode)
  • To manouvre the vehicle along an 'H' pattern
  • A test drive on the road gesturing wildly (hand signals) including that ridiculously antiquated signal for a left turn

What I learnt with experience and exposure
  • Merge into and out of traffic without disturbing the flow (that includes accelerating hard enough to not worry about FE for a moment)
  • Respect roundabouts (noting that fluid mechanics principle applies with progress depending on the 'layer' one is in)
  • The steel cage that is the car, can lull you into a false sense of superiority and invincibility - spare a thought and some respect towards the slower mortals

What I would like newbies to be additionally taught
  • Use of indicators and mirrors - they are to warn and not a tickbox exercise
  • There is a switch to turn on 'low beam'
  • Objective is not just to 'not bump into others'
  • Do not wait for others' signal light to turn red, to launch. There is a phase when more than one signal remains red, to cater to the category called 'pedestrains'
  • Definitely not the least, read this book before that feeling starts to creep in that one has become an expert driver

Last edited by GeeTee TSI : 12th June 2019 at 16:55.
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Old 12th June 2019, 20:53   #30
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Default Re: How does one teach a newbie to drive / ride safe?

My Dad taught me everything I know about driving. I learnt driving in a Premier Padmini, with the column shift, where the gear shift lever is mounted on the steering column. He would drive the vehicle to a large (think stadium-size) vacant plot of land nearby and then I would take over. He taught me how to get a feel of the clutch engaging, how to smoothly ease into gears, gauging the length and width of the vehicle, use of the mirros, signaling, right of way, road etiquette and even to take my foot completely off the clutch once a gear was engaged.

Advanced sessions included reversing, parallel parking and pushing off from dead stop on inclines. He was an avid proponent of using the "Dutch Reach", although, I never asked him where he picked that up from. Needless to say, I aced the driving test. I will never forget the "techniques" that driving "schools" teach just for the sake of the individual passing the test. One of the most important things my Dad taught me was to always, always, maintain a steady speed (no sudden bursts of speed or unnecessary sharp braking) and be situationally aware - be watchful for 2-3 vehicles in front and of those to your sides and anticipate what could be coming.

Last edited by ampere : 12th June 2019 at 21:41. Reason: formatted for readability
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