Driving should never be allowed before the legal age limit. But that is the age when a person actually learns the technicalities of driving, the actual driving. Certain basic things about road safety are to be learnt early. These basic road rules are best learnt by observing elders. It has been observed that people who drive safely, following all road rules have parents who are safe drivers themselves. The same holds true for rash drivers.
Driving is not just about knowing how to drive, but it is more about how to drive safely. Therefore, it is important for kids to know the basic road rules before they grow up and handle the machine. Children should know the difference between driving through a town and driving on a race track.
Teaching Road Rules
Start early! Start with walking. When going for a walk, teach the child to walk away from the road, on the footpath. There are several basic rules of walking which apply to driving also. For example, keeping alert and watching out for bumps and pits, the sounds of vehicles around, looking both ways and crossing when it is clear and safe.
When the child begins cycling, he has to be taught rules like keeping to the left (or right, according to country rules), when to slow down, how to apply brakes and how to cross a road.
Teaching Safe Driving
Drive cautiously and follow all traffic rules when you are driving with small children. We may think that kids are too young to know anything about driving; but the fact is they unconsciously imbibe the attitude of the driver they often ride with. So when you are driving with kids, leave behind your ego and temper and drive calmly. Do not over speed or try to unnecessarily overtake others. Keep to your lane. Never overtake from the wrong side or use foul words for erring drivers. Be tolerant and let others pass. Use indicators and avoid unnecessary honking. Blow horn only when required like at blind turns. Avoid loud music and talking on phone which blurs away other sounds. Slow down at zebra crossings to let the pedestrians pass and allow emergency vehicles to pass. The child unconsciously picks up these traits. It is good to tell them about the do’s and don’ts while driving. This way, by the time they reach the legal age of driving, they will know the basic rules of safety.
Speed Thrills But Kills
Children are fascinated by speed. They love racing games and dream of winning a race, whizzing past everybody else. Driving is all about the excitement of speed for them. It is therefore important to tell them about the perils of speed on busy roads. Young children have to be told again and again not to race with each other when cycling, because they are still unaware of the possible painful consequences of speeding. As parents we need to keep a watch, warn and control them till they reach a mature age. When playing or watching racing sports, parents should tell the child about the difference between racing and driving through traffic. The children should know that racing tracks are made specially for that purpose and the vehicles used too are specially designed. They should also be told about the rigorous special training and hard work professional racers have to undergo.
Road rules are not the only things to be followed on road. A good driver should know road manners too. Unnecessary honking, overtaking just to show off, not giving pass, not accepting one’s mistake and using bad language lead to road rage, often turning dangerous. Patience, humility, politeness and kindness are as important on road as they are in other spheres of life.
Drive safely and teach your kids to keep themselves and others safe on the road.
(An excerpt from September 1996 issue of Reader’s Digest article, written by a mother who lost her only child Ryan in a car accident. Ryan, a 17 year old who was actually a mature, responsible teenager, was driving the car to a friend’s place. Read on-
“I know every youngster thinks, It won’t happen to me. I wish that were so. But each year an increasing number of under 25s die in road accidents. Speed and alcohol are not the major causes of these accidents- Ryan was not a drinker. The real killer is deadly mix of inexperience and overconfidence.
My advice to every young person is: you are not a competent driver simply because you qualified for a licence. There’s nothing in the licence test that shows a young driver how to react to a dangerous situation ina split second, or what to do when your car is out of control. At 17 you may feel invincible. But please, remember that, each week, good, responsible young adults like our son Ryan are killed because of simple errors of judgement. You get no second chances.”)