Keep your cool while teaching your kids to drive

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By Jackie Pearson
1st October 2008

Your son or daughter is about to take that wonderful step to attain their driver’s licence. Here are some strategies you can use to keep them, your car and your nerves in one piece, writes Jackie Pearson.

It only seems like yesterday you were teaching them how to cross the road safely and now here they are asking you to let them behind the wheel of your car. All those horrible statistics rush through your mind.

“The 18 to 25 year age group remains vastly over-represented in road trauma statistics,” says Victoria’s TAC. “In their first year young drivers are almost four times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious injury crash than more experienced drivers.

“A review of young drivers by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau found them to be at greater risk on the roads for a variety of reasons including: lack of experience, limited ability and judgement, underestimation of risks, deliberate risk taking behaviours and use of alcohol and drugs.”

As a result of such troubling statistics licensing requirements are becoming much more onerous.

Image By billaday

New licensing laws
NSW, Queensland and Victoria have introduced graduated licensing systems with learner drivers now required to complete at least 120 hours (NSW and Vic) -- or 100 hours in Qld -- supervised driving and to hold their learner’s permit for at least 12 months. They have to complete a comprehensive log book and there are minimums that have to be met for driving in wet conditions and night driving.

That means you will need to commit to 2.3 hours per week of driving tuition in order for your son or daughter to be able to take the driving test required to graduate to P1.

Make sure you read through all the information your teenager receives when they attain their L-plates and make the commitment to pay for them to have some lessons from a qualified instructor.

“Your role is to give them time behind the wheel. A professional driving instructor can provide the necessary tuition,” explains TAC. And the more hours of supervised driving time you can give them the more chance you have of reducing their risk of an accident – 120 hours is seen as the bare minimum.

A younger driver regularly behind the wheel of your car will put the cost of your car insurance up but it is a necessary evil. Contact your insurer before your teenager starts driving to ensure you’re adequately covered.

Vehicle choice
Many of us have fond memories of the bombs we drove as teenagers but the general industry advice is to go for a car with as many safety features as you can afford as a counter-balance to their limited experience and judgement.

Some states now have restrictions on the type of vehicle that can be driven by provisional licence holders but V6 engines are still allowed and are still very popular. They are powerful, cheap to purchase second-hand and have that all-important street credibility that young adults covet. And that’s exactly why you should stay right away from them when helping your child to find an appropriate first car.

TAC says driving a car is actually more difficult than driving a plane. It is only years of experience that convince us that it is second-nature. It’s easy to overlook the complexity of this task and the dangers involved when introducing a teenager to the road. State governments have placed the responsibility with parents to make young drivers safer.

It will take time, patience and money to minimise your child’s chances of making it to age 25 without being in a serious road accident.


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