It’s often stated that a leading cause of death amongst young adults between 18 and 25 years is motor vehicle crashes.


But that only addresses part of the issue. It can be strongly argued that these fatalities result from young adults’ tendency for risk-taking behaviour.


In the past month two disturbing media reports seem to reinforce this notion.


The first story noted that more than 13,000 Queensland learner drivers (that’s almost 10% of the state’s novices) have been booked for driving without a supervisor.

 

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume there would be a significant percentage again who drive illegally and are not caught.


The second story, from New South Wales, reported a huge increase in learner drivers receiving demerits on their licence from 967 in 2008 to 2366 in 2010.


While tougher L-plate requirements in New South Wales might account for the increased number of bookings, the Queensland case highlights a serious issue that has repercussions for drivers all over Australia.


Child psychologists have noted that teens and young adults are very good at understanding the risks of particular action and surprisingly, often tend to overestimate the potential hazards.


But those who do indulge in risky behaviour have determined that the thrill of the moment outweighs all possible consequences – even death.


So what can we do as drivers and as parents?


The first and best thing we can do is model good behaviour on our roads – exhibit all the attributes that we’d like to see in other drivers – even to passengers who are too young to drive.


Secondly, we need to treat attaining a licence as a serious endeavour that requires the full involvement of the parents as well as the learner.


Many parents spend thousands of dollars each year preparing their children for the start of each school year as well as on extracurricular activities such as sports and dance lessons.

 

Yet some appear to resent spending a fraction of that money on professional driving lessons and spending a fraction of that time in giving their children supervised experience behind the wheel.


Is it any wonder some learner drivers have the wrong attitude?


Knowing how to drive well is an important skill that opens up a whole world of opportunity and pleasure.  For the sake of everyone who shares our roads, it’s a skill which has to be taken seriously and treated with respect.