by Yvonne T Williams
A recent OECD Global report on young drivers entitled ‘Young Drivers: The Road to Safety’ found what most of us instinctively know - that young drivers are over represented in crashes and road fatalities. The report also stated that road crashes are the single greatest killer of 15 – 24 year olds in the industrial world.
In the USA 5,699 kids in the 16 – 20 age group were killed on the roads in 2005, so we are not immune to the global trend affecting young drivers. The OECD report made a number of important recommendations. Supervised driving hours were highlighted – the OECD recommends an extension of pre-license practice for teen drivers of 120 hours supervised driving.
In countries such as Australia, where they’ve already adopted extended supervised driving hours, crashes involving newly licensed drivers in the 2 years following introduction of such changes, reduced by 40%. With thousands of new teen drivers hitting the US roads in 2007 we must spare a thought for all the Moms and Dads who will be taking on the role of driving coach for the first time.
Make no mistake, being a driving coach for your child is one of the most important and difficult jobs you will be called upon to do. What you teach your teen drivers will have a major influence on how they behave on the road when they eventually get their license.
What you may not realize is that your kids have been ‘driving’ since they were in their baby seats. They’ve picked up every good and bad driving habit that you have and will take your driving style with them when they get out on the road.
The first important piece of advice we can give every new Mom and Dad driving coach is to take a very long, hard look at how they, themselves perform as a driver these days. Bad habits creep into our driving without us even being aware of it. If we talk and text on cell phones while driving, if we don’t wear seat belts - or if we run amber lights, or play loud music while the car is full of passengers and un-restrained pets, then how can we expect our teens to stay safe when they start to drive.
Like most parents, you’re leading a hectic life these
days, but the hours you spend with your teen supervising their driving,
will pay you back in so many ways. Give your young drivers the best
chance they can get at staying safe on the roads by trying just a
couple of our coaching tips.
1. Give them at least 120 hours of supervised driving under all sorts of conditions. They need practice on freeway driving, country driving, night driving and in difficult conditions like rain, fog or snow. Driving to school or the supermarket is important, but they also need to clock up their hours in a wider variety of driving situations.
2. Driver distraction and inattention is the number one driver killer. Whenever you and your learner get behind the wheel – switch on your attitude like a racing driver and be ready for anything.
3. Teen drivers need to concentrate at all times so make sure you never have loud music, pets or passengers in the car while they’re practicing.
Always do the right thing and set them a great example – you are a vital role model in this critical but exciting phase of your teen’s life.
If you have any questions or issues on coaching teens you can always contact the Coach a Rookie help desk at www.coacharookie.com. We have driving instructors, advanced driver trainers and road safety educators available to help you with any driver training issues.
Yvonne is a road safety educator and member of the Australasian College of Road Safety. She is also a freelance journalist and co-founder of a global road safety education web site – www.coacharookie.com. She has two grown up children Yvette and Tristan and a husband called David. They just love cars and motor sport of any kind and they are really into V8 Super Cars in Australia and the US Nascar Series. Yvonne is a motoring writer for a number of newspapers and web sites so she is passionate about driving new cars and writing road tests.