Setting an example for your child behind the wheel

Setting an example for your child behind the wheel

It's a basic rule of parenting, yet setting an example seems to get forgotten when it comes to driving (and, if we're totally honest, lots of other things too - but now's not the time for all that).

Many of us pick up bad habits as we rack up the miles of our driving lifetime, and these get passed on from generation to generation. Your behaviour, judgment and skills behind the wheel will have a huge influence on a young person and it's important that he or she sees you taking driving seriously. In fact, an Aviva survey has shown that the following behaviours are learnt directly from parents who teach young people to drive*:

  • Incorrect hand positions on the steering wheel (33%)
  • Driving with only one hand on the wheel (32%)
  • Looking over your shoulder to check for cars rather than using your mirror (19%)
  • Being abusive to other road users (16%)
  • Coasting around corners (in manual cars) (9%)
  • Undertaking (4%)

Encouragingly, 28% of young drivers learned to be polite to other drivers as a direct result of their parents' influence, and 62% felt their parents were helpful or very helpful with learning to drive - unbelievable, eh?

Granted, teaching someone to get to grips with the rules of the road can be a frustrating or just plain terrifying experience, so while you might prefer to pack your son or daughter off to learn with a qualified (and perhaps more patient) driving instructor, it's a good idea to get involved with his or her progress. Once again, the statistics bear this out: one in two young drivers who only had paid driving lessons took more than four attempts to pass the driving test and of these, nearly a quarter had an accident that required an insurance claim. And as any cash-strapped parent will appreciate, extra driving lessons, tests and insurance excesses don't come cheap.

Professional lessons can leave new drivers with gaps in their knowledge that can cause problems. Take your young driver out on to B roads to let them get a feel for unseen bends and tight passing spaces, and give them experience of driving at night and in different weather conditions.

After all, practice makes perfect.

*Research commissioned by Aviva with 500 17 - 21 year old drivers, October 2009

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