It’s a rite of passage that signifies you are one step closer to adulthood. However, for any parent who has stood at the edge of the curb and watched as their child drives away for the first time knows, it can also be a time of intense fear and worry.
My mother, a single mother to four kids, somehow found a patience and courage previously unknown to mankind and taught each of us to drive. She then guided us all through obtaining our driver licences.
I’ll never forget walking out of that transport office, brandishing my shiny new licence to mum and practically itching to get home and jump into my newly purchased car. All so I could drive the streets solo for the first time.
But, with a few wise words of warning, my mother put my hooning dreams on hold, and explained to me that getting my licence was just the first step on what would be a long and winding road to becoming a safe, efficient driver.
In this regard, she could not have been more right. The fact is young drivers, aged 17 to 24 years, are six times more likely to be involved in a serious crash than when they were learning to drive with mum and dad in the seat next to them.
With this in mind, my mother laid down the law that just because I could drive alone, didn't mean I needed no more guidance from her.
There were still a lot of ways she needed to be involved in my driving life and now, looking back on those early days, I'm so very glad she did.
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So, if you have a child who has just scored their P plates, there is no need to hide their keys or let the air out of their tyres.
According to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (and my super-mum) here's a cheat sheet on how to keep a new driver safe on the roads.
Maintain your co-pilot status.
After your child has slapped those P Plates onto their car, it's important to still ensure you take a trip in the passenger seat with them regularly.
This allows you to keep an eye on how they are progressing now they are out on their own. It also means you can gently pull them up and correct them on any bad drive habits they may begin to develop. But make sure you’re setting a good example with your own driving, otherwise they won’t take you seriously.
Don't let them bow to peer pressure.
Picking your friends up and driving them around the neighbourhood is normally the first trip a new driver wants to make.
But the last thing any driver needs, let alone a new one, is to have a car filled with noisy, boisterous passengers. It's important to talk to your kids and set some ground rules about having other people in the car.
If they need a little convincing in order to follow the rules, just remember there are plenty of stats to back you up.
Educate them on the importance of not drinking and driving.
One of the biggest lessons to drill into your new driver is that P1 and P2 licence holders must have a blood alcohol level of 0.00 at all times when driving.
This is the time to sit with them and help them plan safe ways to get home, so they’re not tempted to drink and drive.
They should also be aware that alcohol could still be in their system the next morning. Staying at a friend's place, getting a taxi, ride share service or public transport home or calling you for a ride are all better options than losing their licence.
It's important they know a safe ride home is always only a phone call away.
Prepare them for dangerous driving conditions.
When you're training up your P Plater to tackle the roads, pay extra attention to showing them how to drive in extreme weather conditions and heavy rain.
Talk them through exactly what you are doing and why you’re slowing down and leaving a bit of extra distance between cars so you can react. It's also a good idea to let them know it’s okay to pull over (if it’s safe for them to do so) and wait for heavy rain to pass.
Even after they are OK to drive solo, offer to drive with them in difficult weather conditions when you can, just to keep them up-to-date on how to navigate wet, slippery roads.
Most of all, it's important to keep a friendly open dialogue going between you and your child.
Learning to drive is a stressful time for both of you, so the more honest, open and positive you both are, the happier and safer everyone will be.
What are your best driving safety tips?
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Congratulations, you’ve both completed 100 hours of supervision and your young driver has their P-plates. But did you know when they first starts driving solo, they’re actually six times more likely to have a serious crash. So stay involved and work through the P-plate years together. Here’s some tips:
• be a good role model when driving, stay positive, encourage them to stick to the rules
• let them know they can phone for lift if they’re feeling tired or have been drinking
• if researching or buying a car, check its safety rating.
For more information search ‘Join the Drive’.