Is your teen about to start driving? Meghann Scully of the Marcus Scully Road Safety Awareness Campaign gives parents some tips on teenage driving:
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In recent years the number of people losing their lives on our roads has dropped. This doesn’t mean that our work is over. It’s crucial that we ‘drive on’ and continue to reduce the deaths in coming years. In 2011, 70% of those killed on the roads were male and 30% of those killed were under the age of 24.
For parents it can be extremely difficult to allow their teen travel in cars with peers, start driving and get their own car. Some say it’s like handing them a loaded gun. But let’s face it, you can’t keep them wrapped up in cotton wool forever. The day will come that they will grow up and with it comes responsibilities and independence.
Here are some useful tips to help your youngster become a safe driver.
#1 The Lessons
Thankfully driving lessons are now compulsory. Prior to beginning lessons, your teen should learn the rules of the road. Just because your son or daughter is receiving lessons does not mean you should hand them the keys of your car to ‘practice’.
By all means allow them to drive your car but one parent must be with them at all times. I recommend that a parent should accompany their teen for at least six months. This way they can witness every driving instance and different situations to ensure their teen is confident and most importantly safe.
#2 The Car
It is common for teens to demand a car for themselves once they begin driving and have passed their test. If you choose to buy them a car or lend them yours, then again you should, as a responsible parent, accompany them until you feel they know the car. Your child probably became accustomed to the instructor’s car so it may take time to get used to a different one.
It’s a good idea to come to an agreement about how often and for what purposes he or she will be allowed the keys to the car. Discuss who will pay for the insurance, petrol, NCT and other costs such as repairs.
Make sure you have the correct insurance cover in place for your teen. Many insurance companies offer young driver policies that include discount off driving lessons so it’s worth shopping around.
#3. The Passenger
Many young people who don’t have a car often take spins with friends. It is known that young people, without maybe realising it, speed or drive dangerously in a bid to show off or let people know that they are ‘the best driver’.
The sense of independence can cause the passenger to sit back and enjoy the ride. What you should instil in your child is that they have a voice and if at any point they feel uncomfortable they should say it. Even if there friend exceeds the speed limit they should make it known. Never be afraid to tell someone to slow down. After all it is your life, your son or your daughter.
#4. The Friends
When young people get their own car, they get the urge to drive friends all over the country. Piling all their friends in the car and taking off to different locations is great fun and again the sense of being grown up is felt.
But your teen must realise that someone else’s son or daughter is in the car. One crash and that could be an entire group wiped out and widespread devastation for numerous families. A very common scenario is the driver surviving having killed their friends.
It’s a good idea to discuss the consequences of these things happening with your teen, about the suffering and guilt and even a jail sentence and how that would make them feel.
#5 The Bad Habits
I think it goes without saying that everyone picks up bad habits over the years. Safe to say if we had to sit our test again, many of us would fail. Start as you mean to go on. Educate your children on road safety and every few weeks ask them to drive you to the shops and observe their driving. Are they still checking the mirrors, using indicators, abiding by the speed limit, two hands on the wheel?
These are little things but they could save a life. This way you can point out the bad habits your son or daughter has picked up and help to correct them. It is constant reassurance that your teen continues to abide by the rules of the road.
Some Useful Resources
To ensure your child is safe on our roads, educate yourself on road safety and the rules of the road. Here are some useful links to aid your learning.
- The Road Safety Authority website has information on Road Safety as well as a whole section for Learner Drivers and a comprehensive Find an Instructor directory.
- The Rules of the Road website has sections on Your Licence & Vehicle, Rules for Driving and Traffic Signs.
- You will find information on the Driver Theory Test on the DTTS website and on the Driving Test back on the Road Safety Authority website.
Megan’s brother Marcus was travelling home from rugby training in Gort on the 5th of March 2005 at 9pm when the car in which he was travelling was involved in a collision. Marcus sustained serious injuries and later died in hospital. For years she wanted to do something to not only remember him but also to help others and hopefully prevent accidents.
The Marcus Scully Road Safety Campaign aims to educate people on road safety but to also show them that the loss suffered by those left behind doesn’t disappear or fade in a few weeks. It has changed our lives forever. Find them on Facebook and follow the campaign on Twitter @roadsafetycampaign.
Do you have any tips for parents of teens who are embarking on driving? Share them with us in the comments below.