When your teen turns 18, they are officially eligible to take their driving test and, upon passing, to receive their driver’s licence. This is an incredible milestone and one that you and they are sure to feel very proud of. However, driving is a privilege that also comes with immense responsibility, and it is important that every parent informs their teen how and why to drive cautiously and courteously at all times.
According to a report by IOL, the death rate of young South African drivers is at least five times higher than that of older people. Furthermore, car accidents are the leading cause of death amongst people aged 15 to 29 years old. The question is, why?
Ultimately, a lack of driving experience plays a notable role in these statistics. It is easy to understand how a person is able to become a better driver the more time he or she spends on the road. However, this isn’t the only factor at play. Youngsters, as with most things in life, tend to be more reckless than older adults. They take more risks, act without thinking and, in many cases, are geared towards doing things to impress their friends, such as driving fast or attempting to perform ‘tricks’ on the roads. They will also be more likely to make poor decisions before getting behind the wheel and are often more inclined to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Drunk driving is a massive problem in South Africa. Between 2017 and 2018, the SAPS reported 86 160 cases of motorists driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, an increase of 14.8% from previous years (2015 – 2016).
Set the Example
With all of these points in mind, here is some advice on how to guide your teen toward safer, more responsible driving.
- It is important that they are aware of these statistics, as well as various solutions to problems that could land them in trouble. For example, emphasise how vital it is for them to avoid starting that engine if they are under the influence. Encourage them to call you for help or to order an Uber if that is ever the case.
- Educate them regarding the consequences of disobeying the rules of the road and driving over the speed limit, and if they do receive a fine, insist that they pay for it themselves.
- Remind them never to get into a car when someone else is driving and they are under the influence. If in doubt, teach them that they have the right to say ‘no’ and to find another way to get home.
- Set a good example. Our kids really take note of how we, as parents, behave. This applies to how we drive too. Obey all the rules of the road. Stop at stop streets, drive below the speed limit, and remain courteous to other motorists.
With a bit of guidance and education, most youngsters will adopt better driving habits and reduce their risk of injury or problems on South African roads. Here’s to a brand-new chapter in their lives and an exciting new journey!