Recent articles such as this one show that a significant number of teens are deferring learning to drive until after the GDL no longer affects them. Parents that accommodate this trend, and facilitate it by acting as chauffeurs apparently think they are protecting their child from the dangers of driving.
What they are actually doing is squandering their ability to influence and coach their child to drive with caution and safety in mind.
In a previous post, I wrote about the 7 Steps to Becoming an Experienced Driver. One of the key elements of doing so is called “practice”. Practice is needed to become proficient in any athletic field or fine arts training (eg, dance).
Parents will go out of their way to both finance it and provide transportation. Presumably, this is to ensure that their child has sufficient professional training so that they develop their competence early and to a level that suits their talents. There are a limited number of children that go on to benefit greatly from this training, in the form of school scholarships and even careers. Most will reach a level where the commitment outweighs the perceived benefits and they progress no further.
There is nothing wrong with this parental attitude. We all want the best for our children, and will sacrifice our time and resources for their benefit. What parents fail to realize is that by deferring driver training they are ignoring the development of a critical life skill and leaving it to their child to develop it after parental influence is minimized.
There is no beginner activity undertaken that is deadlier than navigating today’s roadways, in today’s modern vehicles, with today’s volume of drivers (most of which are poorly trained to begin with).
So, let’s wait until they get a little more mature, so that they will be more risk averse. What about simply knowing what to do and getting some practice in good defensive driving techniques with a watchful set of eyes to help?
I believe that obtaining a learner’s permit early and holding it for an extended period is a far better approach.
What do you think?