Since we were all that age once, parents know that their children will probably drive unsafely
A parent recently told me the following alarming truth: His daughter admitted to him that she drives very unsafely when he is not in the vehicle with her. Although the statistics suggest that young male drivers will choose to drive unsafely more often than young female drivers, the fact is that both genders are learning to drive at an age where the respect and admiration of their peers can often trump their ability to make logical and safe choices.
Even in the hit show "Breaking Bad", meth cook Walt White and his wife Skyler are concerned about their son's safety when Walt buys his son a flashy new sports vehicle for his birthday.
So what would the vehicle look like if parents designed their children's first vehicle?
Here's our best guess:
- The chassis would be pliable plastic – more bendy than Gumby
- Instead of sheet metal and plastic, the vehicle would be made of marshmallows and bubblewrap
- Each seat would fully ensconce the driver and passengers in pillows
- There would be a protective perimeter around the vehicle of at least 50 feet
- The vehicle would glow in the dark and have a huge flashing light on the top… and GPS
- And, the vehicle would not be able to go faster than 20 kilometres an hour… and every kilometre above ten kilometres an hour would be measured with an audible "tsk" from a pre-recorded mother's voice
- The vehicle couldn't turn without first having the signals flashing for 100 metres or more
Although funny to think about, it's obvious that no vehicle would be functional if built that way
Instead, parents have to do the following:
- Demonstrate the importance that safety on the road starts with safety behind the wheel. This includes demonstrating good habits. (Yes parents! This means you need to relearn those forgotten safe driving skills so you can model them for your kids)
- Teach their children the dangers of the road and respect for the power of the vehicle… while also instilling in them the confidence to drive predictably so that other drivers can anticipate what they are doing
- Remind their children constantly that friends are good and fun to be around but nothing trumps safe choices, especially when behind the wheel of a vehicle
- Check-in with their children periodically when they are away (without hassling their kids constantly)
- Tell their children that they love them
These tasks aren't easy for a parent to do. Yet, they are absolutely essential for young drivers to learn. When they do, our roads will be that much safer for everyone.