17 Jan Love your Car? Don’t Take the Risk
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You have your driving licence. No more having to wait on the old’s to pick you up or take you somewhere.
There is that delicious sense of freedom to be able to come and go as you like. If you want to swing by Macca’s on your way somewhere, you can do that.
Having your licence is freedom. It is also more than freedom.
The car is a symbol of independence, of new horizons, of stepping into adulthood. That first car we buy might be an old bomb, but it is our old bomb!
Young adult men who are into cars often invest more time and attention in their cars than in other relationships. Some of the reasons for this will be considered in a further blog.
Yet, for all the positives, young people are often viewed as risky and dangerous drivers.
Are young people dangerous drivers?
There is a perception that young drivers are more dangerous because of their inexperience.
Media stories of young people involved in stealing high-performance vehicles and being involved in high-speed police pursuits or hooning feed into the view of young people as dangerous drivers.
However, we need to distinguish between hooning and deliberate dangerous driving and the idea that all young people are somehow inherently dangerous drivers.
Certainly, inexperience is a factor in the higher rate of injuries and deaths among young people. However, other factors also need to be considered.
Other factors that impact young drivers
1. Technology and the vehicles driven by younger drivers.
With demands for greater car efficiency and fuel economy and meeting emission targets, cars are being manufactured with increased power and fewer engine design restrictions . This impacts all drivers, including young people.
It also means young people are often driving smaller and/or older vehicles that have fewer safety features.
The consequences of a young person driving a smaller vehicle with fewer safety features being involved in an accident with a newer, faster vehicle with more safety features mean there is a greater likelihood the young person will be injured.
2. Housing and public transport use.
Decreasing housing affordability means families and young people must live further out in the suburbs, consequently spending more time travelling. The further out a person is, the more reliant they are on their motor vehicle due to infrequent public transport.
Being on the road more frequently and for longer periods of time increases the risk of accidents.
Hence, when discussing the issue of young drivers, we need to think more deeply than simply making a statement implying young people are dangerous drivers.
Driving and Reducing Risk.
What may be more helpful than stigmatising young people as dangerous drivers is reminding all drivers of the importance of reducing risks when driving.
We have all taken risks that we look back on and shake our heads about how stupid we were. I know, as an adult driver, I have. Impatience and a determination to arrive at a destination within the time frame I set led to unnecessary and dangerous risk-taking.
We all need to be reminded:
- Speeding by up to 10km/h over the limit and driving while tired are the two most common forms of risky driving we have control over.
- The importance of wearing a seatbelt and wearing it correctly. In 2022, over thirty of the fatalities that occurred on the road were linked to a lack of wearing a seat belt or wearing it incorrectly.
- Of the risk of driving when we have drunk alcohol and used marijuana.
These are risks that we can reduce and control as drivers.
– Written by David Kernohan, Director of Youth Legal Services