As school begins this week, drivers will contend with more traffic whether you are a parent or not.
The first day of school, in particular, is busier as parents drop their children off for their first day of primary or high school. As parents battle increased traffic and driving challenges, they should remember their young passengers are not only about to start lessons at school but are also learning what kind of drivers to become one day, based on the example their parents set.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says international research reveals that children inherit their parents’ driving style as a result of a genetic disposition and modelled learning.
“At least 50% of parents surveyed said they talked on their phones while driving and 37% admitted to speeding. Some were even guilty of taking selfies while driving.
“These behaviours are dangerous for anyone to commit but when a teenager with limited experience is doing them, it becomes even more risky. It is too late, however, to only emphasise against these driving behaviours when you start teaching them to drive. Your power of persuasion will be severely hampered if you advocate against a behaviour that they have seen you indulge in so many times before,”
As you get into the car this school term, remember that you are being watched. Avoid behaviours that your child could accept as normal and acceptable once they start driving. This includes:
- Aggressive driving: losing your cool and shouting at fellow road users teaches children to be intolerant of other drivers.
- Discourteous driving: much of the anger, frustration and collisions that occur on the roads could be avoided by simply being courteous to fellow drivers. MasterDrive subscribes to their slogan ‘Drive nice, it’s contagious’ and encourages other drivers to do the same.
- Distracted driving: applying make-up, talking on the phone and various other activities while on the school run set a dangerous precedent.
- Drinking and driving: newer theories advise drivers to not drink at all if they will be getting behind the wheel. If there is a child in the car, this is even more relevant to protect that child’s current and future safety.
- Law breaking: ardently follow the laws of the road, even that quiet stop sign at the end of your road that no one stops at. Be an example for your child. Emphasise that the laws are there for a reason.
As the school year begins, keep these tips in mind as you start training the future drivers of South Africa.