Last year my 10 year old got to drive a Land Rover.
He navigated potholes and hills and difficult turns and ditches filled with clay and water. He drove a course even I would find a horrendous challenge. For he was off-roading and behind the wheel of a beast of a vehicle! Just look at him, he could barely reach the pedals!
It was the most amazing experience – and I also think it taught him to appreciate why I need to concentrate when driving him to school!
During the day he was shown the delicate relationship between the clutch and the accelerator and how to steer out of a difficult spot. He was taught to be patient and to go slowly and steadily.
And while yes, it was lots of fun and he got to feel very cool and grown up, I think it was a very valuable lesson to him. He learnt that cars are very difficult to control, that driving takes focus and understanding and that in order to get from A to B it’s not about how fast you can do it but how well you can do it.
Basically I don’t want him to get to the age of 17 and for driving to be this BIG THING. The age when teenagers want to show off and act cool and, well, mixing that with a vehicle just isn’t the best of recipes.
According to RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) every year there are more than 400 people killed in car crashes involving young, inexperienced drivers aged between 17 and 24 – and these are just figures of people killed. What about the serious injuries, bumps, other incidents?
I want to do everything I can as a parent to avoid these statistics. Which I think includes giving my children an understanding of the Highway Code. Why you can’t drive there, or that fast or what to do when there are pedestrians/cyclists/horses around (there are a LOT of horses on the roads where we live!)
Of course you can’t wrap them in cotton wool once they are on the roads. You can ensure they are safety conscious but you can’t control other drivers. I don’t WANT to have to ever visit websites about road safety and making a claim for traffic accidents. But I know I might have to.
Obviously, not everyone will get the opportunity to drive a Land Rover round an off-road course. But you can at least show your kids the Highway Code to give them a better understanding of what’s going on around them. Let them understand why drivers do what they do. And then when it comes to teaching them to drive themselves it won’t be such a huge mountain to climb!
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