Placing a teen behind the wheel of a motor vehicle takes cojones of steel. And then you get arrested.
‘I need the practice, Mom!’
‘Oh all right then, you drive!’
I imagine this was the kind of conversation that led to a recent news story
about a mother and son who were arrested for fleeing the scene after the son - an unlicensed driver - had jumped a red robot.
I’m not without sympathy as to how this mom found herself there.
From the moment he turned 15, my son felt he was ready for driving lessons. My constant patient explanations and flat rejections eventually resulted in a truce. As his 16th birthday approached, new pleas began to ring in my ears, this time for a scooter: ‘Everyone else has one, it’ll be so convenient for you...’
He seems to be right that every other teen is being placed on a scooter and sent out into the death roads
of our cities – not always with a helmet on.
For now, though, budgetary constraints (and fear for my son’s welfare should he encounter a bad driver on a bender) mean that he relies on Mom’s taxi for his daily travel.
He’s moved on to the next dream, and at 16 he already knows what car he would like
; discussions whirl around whether a particular car is for ‘girls’ or ‘men’. I can imagine that the pressure will soon start mounting again for early lessons – and in a matter of months he will be able to legitimately become a learner driver.
One argument that is often raised by a teen with a need to be behind the wheel is the comparison with America, where 16-year-olds can become licensed drivers. But in that country they also have compulsory driver’s education classes as part of the school curriculum.
It would be lovely to be able to recommend we add that to our curriculum too, but I think we’re struggling already with the subjects we have in our high schools.
Teenage drivers, even licensed ones, are particularly vulnerable, points out Parent24 Safety expert Ally Cohen
: ‘Motor car accidents are the number one cause of deaths for teenager drivers, and for any parent, handing your cars keys over to your teen can be nervewracking.
‘Ensure that your teen understands and obeys the laws of the road, for example no talking on cell phones, keeping within speed limits, no drinking or drugs and ALWAYS buckle up,’ she recommends. Do you think the age for driver’s licences is correct at 18?