Road Ready for young drivers
In 2015 17-19 year olds were 4% of the population but 10% of fatalities in WA.
The independence that comes with getting your licence is one of the most exciting times in your teenager’s life, and one of the most dangerous. The responsibility of being a new driver often coincides with the end of school, leavers, exposure to drugs and alcohol and increasing peer pressure.
It’s our job as parents to teach and encourage young drivers to identify and reduce risks and make smarter, safer driving decisions.
We need to help them understand that while this is an important and exciting time, it can also be a dangerous time. The decisions they make now can affect them for the rest of their life.
The Fatal 5, or main contributors to road fatalities are:
- Alcohol and drugs
Teach your young driver never to get in a car with someone who has been drinking. There is a zero tolerance (0.00% BAC) on alcohol for P Plate drivers. Make sure they understand why drugs, drinking and driving don’t mix.
All drivers should stick to the speed limit, but young drivers sometimes need reminding that they are not bullet proof. They also need to develop the courage to tell friends and other drivers to slow down if they are speeding or driving faster than the conditions allow.
Understand and discuss the key distractions for young drivers with your P Plater and set a good example by never using your mobile phone in the car or adjusting your GPS while driving.
Teach your young driver to always pull over after, if not before, two hours of driving. When taking a break they should choose a safe place, well away from moving vehicles, hop out of their car and go for a brisk walk. Moving around helps to stimulate blood flow and fights fatigue. It’s also advisable to regularly drink water to assist with hydration and concentration.
- Non-use of seatbelts
Young drivers can succumb to the peer pressure of overcrowding backseats. Stress the importance of never overcrowding a car, and making sure every passenger belts up (drivers face a $550 fine and four demerits if they don’t).
Peer pressure in practice
Telling our children to do the right thing and having them understand why are two entirely different things.
To help you provide tangible examples to demonstrate how risks and consequences work on the road, we have developed some scenarios.
Use them as a basis to help guide your discussion of the situations they may face as a new driver, especially in relation to peer pressure.
Getting them home safely
When your teenager thinks they know it all, sometimes it can be hard to explain to them why they should do something until they see it first-hand. Which is why, as much as we can tell them what they should do, we also need to help them plan ahead to handle the situations that can’t be controlled.
Getting home safely after parties, and other situations where there may have been drugs or alcohol involved, should be a key discussion point.
Help your learner plan to stay safe by:
- Encouraging them to let someone know where they’re going and when they plan to be home.
- Agreeing with friends who’s going to be the designated driver.
- Organising to stay the night if that’s an option.
- Asking someone to pick them up. Explain that you would rather get a call from them than from the hospital or a police officer.
- Keeping some safe money in their wallet to pay for a taxi (just in case).
Let them know that sometimes things don’t go to plan and in these situations they may need to make difficult decisions. For example, what if the designated driver decides to have a drink?
Empower them to have the courage to:
- Take a friend’s keys.
- Say no to getting in the car and encourage their mates to do the same thing.
- Say yes to being a designated (non-drinking) driver.
What to do in an emergency
If your young driver is involved in a crash, would they know what to do?
They should follow these steps:
- Stop immediately.
- Help anyone who has been injured, making sure their actions don’t put them or others in danger.
- Send someone for help if needed.
- Provide their name, address and number plate to the owner or driver of the other vehicle.
- Record the same details for the other party/ies involved in the crash
- If someone has been injured, report the crash at www.crashreport.com.au
Most importantly, if they have a crash and a passenger is injured, would they know how to help them before the ambulance arrives?
Encouraging your young driver to learn some quick crash first aid could save their life or a friend’s.
St John Ambulance created Click to Save to teach drivers basic first aid skills, so they can “do something” at a crash scene before the ambulance arrives.
Leavers 2019 will happen in late November. The kids are excited; you’re likely to be nervous and hesitant. Remember, long distance/country driving can be different than city driving.
Remind your leaver how to stay safe by:
- Having plenty of drinking water ready in case they breakdown.
- Charging their phone and having their roadside assistance or mechanic’s details in the car.
- Slowing down and reducing their speed for the conditions (i.e. on different road surfaces such as gravel or in bad weather).
- Taking breaks along the way.
- Pulling over straight away if they feel tired.
- Overtaking safely.
- Limiting their use of cruise control. They should always remain alert and ready to take over around bends, going up or down hills or when conditions change.
Here are some more simple tips to help your leaver prepare for their first road trip.
Here are some great additional resources:
Once your child turns 17, you can sign them up for RAC free2go to receive a year of free roadside assistance .
School Drug Education and Road Aware (SDERA)
SDERA can provide information to help your young driver make smarter choices through resilient driving, road safety and drug and alcohol education