Opinion

Editorial: Shifting into drive

It shouldn’t come as any great surprise that a recent ICBC survey found many parents are passing along poor driving habits to their teenagers.

What is less expected is that only about a third of them seem to be aware of the impact their bad behaviour is having.

Whether it’s speeding, failing to come to a complete stop or not properly concentrating on the task at hand, for some, the rules of the road tend to grow a little hazy over the years. And the more comfortable we get behind the wheel, the more corners we tend to cut.

Thanks to experience, most of the time, it works out.

But for young drivers, who in all likelihood still occasionally flip on the wipers when they mean to signal a turn, there is an overwhelming amount of information coming at them fast.

Add to that, heavy traffic, aggressive and impatient drivers and a seemingly endless succession of construction projects to create stress and confusion, and new drivers have enough to deal with.

“Driving is particularly risky for new drivers because they lack experience. Not only are they more prone to crash but on average, 18 per cent of crashes involving young drivers result in an injury or fatality,” the insurance corporation points out.

Allowing teens to start out with bad habits passed down — however inadvertently — is like setting them up to fail.

Along with the caveat, ICBC offers a few tips for parents as they prepare their teens for one of the (simultaneously) greatest freedoms and responsibilities they will ever know.

When possible, they suggest, provide your teen with a vehicle that is a manageable size and has good visibility and an automatic transmission.

Write and sign a family contract, laying out in no uncertain terms what is expected and the consequences of violating the agreement. Ensure they have a firm grasp of the rules and regulations.

Most important, they say, parents should remove themselves from an emotionally charged situation and allow an expert to provide instruction. Whatever the cost, it’s worth it to know you’re giving them their best shot at success.

And, of course, it never hurts to set a good example.

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