Manage your child's risk as a new driver
A combination of youth and inexperience make the first few years for a young driver the most dangerous. During this time they will be at the highest risk of being involved in a serious road traffic collision.
According to research by the RAC Foundation, in 2014, 1 in 5 young drivers are involved in a collision within the first six months of passing their test.
However, as your child starts on this journey there are many things you can to do to help reduce their likelihood of being involved in a crash.
Even before they start learning to drive consider this: Research shows that your children will copy you in your attitudes and actions, this is true from smoking to driving. They have already spent a lot of time observing your driving, so if you use your mobile whilst driving they are more likely to as well. If you regularly drive aggressively so will they. Even if they have seen some 'poor driving' from you in the past make sure they are only exposed to the best driving habits from now on.
Make sure you have the conversation!
Before your child starts to learn to drive you need to have a conversation with them to agree upon what restrictions will apply once they pass their test. Many parents contribute towards the cost of getting them on the road for the first time - driving lessons, purchasing a car and insurance to name a few. If you are going to contribute towards the cost you have a right to ask for something in return! When you have 'the chat' make sure everyone shares their views and feels they have been listened to - consider using a Parent-Teen Agreement
Parent - Teen Agreements
Parent/Teen agreements or contracts can been talked through and signed, they are about what you are going to do in return for your child agreeing to any restrictions on their driving. You can download a template agreement by clicking on the PDF link at the top right hand side of this page.
Possible restrictions - make sure you know the factors that increase the risk
- Restrict the number of passengers they can have in the car for a period of time, the first six months or first year, the more passengers in the car the higher the risk for new drivers.
- Up to 50% of crashes that happen in the wet involve young drivers, have an agreement with your child they will consciously slow down in the rain or when the roads are wet.
- Make sure you get a “black box” fitted to monitor your child's driving. These telematics boxes are provided by many insurance companies for young drivers and generally offer policies at significantly reduced premiums. There are many varieties on offer but generally they monitor how the car is being driven and allow you and your child to view this information online - this allows you to reward or restrict the use of the car by the way it is driven. Some black boxes automatically trigger the emergency services in the event of a serious collision, pinpointing the location of the vehicle and saving vital time. There have been a number of stories in the press recently where this feature has had life-saving consequences.
- The time of day that they drive also is a risk factor. Most fatal and serious collisions that involve young drivers happen between 10pm and 5am so when they first start driving restrict how often they are allowed to drive during these times.
- Fatigue is also a factor in many crashes with young drivers. As they move into a new period of independence after passing their test so do their hours awake increase. You may have spent the last few years trying to get them out of bed, suddenly they are out all the time working, socialising or just going out for a drive. Agree a minimum numbers of hours rest before they can use the car particularly if it is a long journey or late at night.
- Sticking to the speed limit and more importantly driving at an appropriate speed for the conditions. Young male drivers are the most likely group to be involved with a fatal pedestrian crash.
Choosing the right driving instructor (ADI)
One of the most important things you can do is to choose a driving instructor (ADI) carefully. The UK has nearly 40,000 registered driving instructors (DfT, 2016). These ADIs have different levels of competency, find out what level they are, you really want an instructor that has been graded 5 or 6 on the old system or A on the new system.
Make sure that you ask the right questions - not just 'How much do your lessons cost?'.
A local driving instructor has witten a very inciteful article about choosing an instructor - you can read it here. In addition to finding out what grade an driving instructor is, here are some other questions you should be asking when choosing the right person to train your child:
- What additional training and qualifications have they undertaken over and above the basic qualification?
- Are they a member of a local or national association – this shows how enthusiastic they are about their job?
- What is their pass rate?
Many ADIs have signed up with The Honest Truth Road Safety project and have agreed that they will engage and promote road safety with their students, alongside the traditional instruction on how to physically drive a car. Visit The Honest Truth website to find ADI's in your area who are signed up to this scheme..
After they pass
Did you know if your daughter or son accrues 6 penalty points on their license within the first two years of taking their test then they will lose their licence and have to go through the whole process again. Just think about how much extra money that will cost for more lessons, retaking the tests - let alone the fact that they will be extremely unlikely to get insurance. In March 2017 the penalties for being caught using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel increased from 3 points to 6 points and from £100 to £200. That means if they are caught using a hand-held phone (even if they are stationary in traffic) they will lose their license.
Just because they have passed their test doesn’t make them a good driver it just means that they have achieved the minimum level to drive on the roads, they still have a lot to learn. There are a number of courses they can undertake to gain further driving experience once they have passed their test. Many ADI's can offer additional tuition including schemes like Pass Plus whereby newly passed drivers can gain experience of driving on motorways, at night etc.Speak to your child's ADI to see what they offer or contact IAM or ROSPA about further courses.