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How To Outwit Your Teenager

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Driven To Distraction By Teenage Drivers

May 11th, 2009 · No Comments


My son will be eligible for his learner licence in November. He seems far too young to be driving a car and yet in half a year he won’t be.

An ‘over-parenter’ from way-back, I’m already nervous at the thought. He’s a sensible kid and if he manages to nail the Driver Knowledge Test I know that he’ll stick closely to the rule book. It’s everyone else on the road that scares me.

I sat for my learner’s test the day that I became eligible, nearly 30 years ago, and then quickly progressed via about 10 driving lessons to the driving test that would result in a provisional licence (P-Plate). It was a pretty stock standard affair. Almost everyone I know got their licence on either the first or second go.

It’s so much harder for teenagers these days. They have to log at least 120 hours of supervised driving (including 20 hours of night driving) before they can test for their provisional licence. And from where I sit, as a terrified parent, that’s a very good development. We live a couple of kilometres from my son’s school so he’ll likely be 25 before he will be able to clock up 120 hours.

According to, the top 5 distractions that can result in an accident are: mobile phones (tick), adjusting vehicle settings like the radio (tick), other occupants like friends (tick), eating/drinking/smoking (tick to the first two) and external distractions like shops or an attractive girl (tick, tick). You can see why the thought of my son getting behind the wheel of a car at the age of 16 is driving me to distraction.

But preventing him from learning alongside his peer group may well be worse. His self-esteem is wrapped up in being part of a group of boys who are moving forward together. To hold him back because of my fears would prevent him from becoming an independent young man.

Driving a car is a risky proposition for anyone. Our role as parents is to prepare our kids as well as we can and then trust that they’ll be sensible. (And cross everything we have.)


Tags: Rules · Self-esteem

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