Advance View: Driving away the bad habits

With summer now at its height, and thoughts of returning to school appearing on the horizon (politics and labour relations willing), many teenagers are eager to get behind the wheel of Mom’s or Dad’s car, and learn how to drive it.

In 2013, about 46,000 learner’s licences were given to prospective drivers aged 16 to 19 years.

Having an extra driver in the family has its appeal – but it also comes with significant risks.

Driving is particularly risky for new drivers, because they lack experience and may not have a store of appropriate responses to many of the situations that they will encounter, and they lack the ability to react with greater understanding when they are in a serious situation.

Not only are young, inexperienced drivers more likely to be involved in an accident, but 18 per cent of crashes involving young drivers will result in injury or death.

Some of what makes experienced drivers better than others are the habits they develop – and those habits may develop even before they ever get behind the wheel of a car.

Those habits become even more important to remember as parents help their children learn to drive.

An ICBC survey indicated that 29 per cent of parents believe their teens picked up bad driving habits from them.

That’s a heavy burden to bear – especially if those bad habits lead to tragedy.

We concur with ICBC’s suggestion that the job of teaching new drivers, after they have passed their basic knowledge and vision tests, should rest with qualified supervisors.

And that instructional period is a good time for the parents to study the rule book with their kids, work on any bad driving habits, and learn about the Graduated Licensing Program restrictions – and help kids follow them.

– B.G.

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