Reaching the magic age of 18 years and becoming an adult is something which we all think of as children. There are several rights we get once we are 18 such as voting and opening a bank account but the one thing, which spells freedom is getting the driving licence. For teens, driving a vehicle is the first sign of independence. So, once we get our hands on our own vehicle, it is like the world has opened its doors for us.
And while this is all good, this independence sometimes leads to negligence. We see several cases of rash driving by teenagers. Recently, three teenagers were involved in a fatal road accident in Bengaluru. The teens had borrowed their parents’ cars and were racing, which ended in an accident. One of the boys lost his life. There are several such tragic incidents in the news almost daily.
According to the report Road Accidents in India - 2016 released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, “the age profile of road accident victims for 2016 reveals that the age group of 18 - 35 years accounted for 46.3 per cent (69,851 persons) and age group of 18-45 accounted for a share of 68.6 per cent (1,03,409 persons) of the total road accident fatalities.”
So, while independence is important, we have to remember that with freedom comes responsibility. Parents have to make sure that children are responsible when they are driving.
Here are some guidelines you can lay down for vehicle usage --
Knowing Traffic laws: Teens are all raring to go with their new found freedom, after getting the licence. It is up to the parents to reign them in and make them aware of the road safety laws or traffic rules. While you are doing that, it is always good to tell them the consequences of breaking any traffic laws, the fines and punishment. Parents should also make sure children are aware of the documents they need to carry with them while driving.
Speeding: Every once in a while, we all feel the need to test the limit of our vehicles. And teens are always exploring the new world. Sometimes, they may cave in to peer pressure and over-speed. Without scaring them, make your children aware of the after effects of risky actions while driving. Set them a speed limit, over which they are not allowed to drive and apprise them of the consequences.
Using mobile phones: Mobiles have become a big distraction. Teens often multitask and they are good at it because they have the experience with managing college, classes, friends and extracurricular activities. But multitasking while driving can be fatal. Many accidents have happened because the driver was talking on phone or texting. Explain to your children that they should never use phones while driving and if they have some urgent calls to make, they should park the car to a side and then make it. Similarly, be it using GPS, putting on songs, it is better to do it before driving.
Drinking and driving: This is a serious offence and parents need to be uncompromising about this. Teenagers need to understand that driving under the influence of alcohol is not just risky, it is also a criminal offence. Not only should the teens refrain from drinking and driving, they should never get in a car when someone else is drinking. It would be a good idea to discourage youngsters from taking up this habit altogether, by telling them about the bad effects of alcohol.
Seating passengers: While it is enjoyable to have company while driving, the passenger is always the responsibility of the person driving. Sometimes children love to drive together in groups and may overcrowd the car. This can be dangerous as the teen driver, who is not experienced, can get easily distracted. You need to set a limit of how many people can be in the car when your teen is at the wheel.
Being safe: This is something even adults forget. Parents should instil the importance of being safe, in their children. One of the main safety criteria while driving is to wear seatbelts. Tell your teenagers that there cannot be any compromise regarding wearing seatbelts because it is a matter of life and death.
Late night driving: If your child is new to driving, it is better to prohibit him or her from driving at night. Night time driving is different and more unsafe than daytime driving. It is better to give a curfew to the kids and make sure they are back by sunset. You can eventually increase the time curfew, looking at the experience they have gained and how responsible they have been.
Caring for vehicle: Giving the car or bike is not enough. Taking care of the vehicle is also crucial. Ensuring the vehicle is all tuned up, would go a long way in keeping the children safe. Instead of being stranded at some place unknown, because their car broke down, the kids would be safe home. And for that parents need to make sure that kids keep the car in good working condition and take it for servicing.
To truly enjoy the experience of being at the wheel, teenagers need to take the necessary precautions. This ensures a smooth ride for them and peace of mind for you.