Parents are key to young driver safety, says NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild president, Jacqui Madelin.
“Too many parents assume they’re doing their kids a favour when they let them drive,” she says. “They’re not – an extended period of supervised driving is vital to nurture safe drivers.”
Your safest time behind the wheel is before you get a licence and drive solo. Learner drivers are concentrating on new skills. They need the extra eyes and calm head an experienced supervisor can give them before they embark on the most dangerous time of their driving life, their first months as solo drivers, unsupervised at the wheel of something with all the devastating potential of a deadly weapon.
“Don’t kid yourself that because your teen isn’t a hoon or an idiot, they’re not at risk. Inexperience is dangerous – whether you’re otherwise fairly responsible or not,” Madelin says.
“Moreover a parent is best placed to ensure their child gets supervised experience when conditions aren’t ideal.”
Parents can not only give their teens a valuable chance to get comfortable with the mechanics of driving a car, they can ensure their child has driven in poor weather conditions, at night or on unfamiliar roads.
“Would you like your teen’s first attempt at night driving to be alone or, worse still, with a car full of mates?”
Driving with a car full of same-age passengers increases the fatal crash risk four times compared with driving alone. A parent can discuss the added risks young drivers are prone to, such as peer pressure or distractions. They can help develop strategies to avoid risk, such as switching off cell phones, or avoiding driving when tired or upset.
Overseas research has shown that getting 120 hours of supervised driving practice can reduce a young driver’s chance of crashing by 30 to 40%.
“That time behind the wheel is key, and it’s parents who can ensure their child gets that best start of what should be a long lifetime of motoring.”
The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild is the professional body for the country’s automotive media. It membership comprises over 40 specialist motoring journalists in the print, broadcast and internet-based media.
For further information contact:
Motoring Writers’ Guild president
0274 751 521
Motoring Writers’ Guild vice president
027 686 371