Parental management could keep young drivers safer

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Parental management could keep young drivers safer

In-car cameras and black box technology that record young drivers could cut crash rates if the information is shared with parents.

Evidence from America suggests the combined use of dash cams and ‘accelerometers’ – which record the high G-forces created when a car is driven erratically or dangerously – reduces bad driving if young novices know the information will be shared with their mum and dad.

In a new report for the RC Foundation – Keeping Young Drivers Safe During Early Licensure – Dr Bruce Simons-Morton says that, with this technology, adults can have a permanent presence in the car, even after novices have passed their tests.  If new young drivers believe that what they do at the wheel will get back to their parents, they are likely to moderate their behaviour.

The report highlights the Catch-22 dilemma newly qualified young drivers face: they need to drive to gain experience, but each time they take to the road they are at risk.  In part, this is because driving takes practice to improve. 

However, there is also evidence that while new young drivers can drive relatively safely when accompanied by their parents or other adults, they undertake riskier behaviour when that adult figure is absent.  This inclination to ‘elect’ to drive more carelessly is compounded by young drivers’ tendency to be easily distracted by things such as making and taking calls on a mobile, texting and the presence of young passengers.

Alongside his argument for greater “parental management”, Dr Simons-Morton says international evidence underlines the case for the benefits of graduated driver licensing.  Under GDL drivers might need to complete a minimum learning period before they sit their test, and after they pass their test might face time-limited restrictions so that they can gain vital experience as safely as possible. The restrictions could prohibit driving at night and with young passengers in the car.

“This report doesn’t suggest that dash cam footage replaces Strictly or The Voice as regular Saturday night family viewing, but it does argue that greater parental appreciation of what their children get up behind the wheel can be beneficial,” Steve Gooding, a Director of the RAC Foundation, said.

“Teenagers may baulk at the idea of mum and dad effectively supervising their every trip, but a constant parental presence, delivered through technology, has been shown to moderate risky behaviour.  ‘Black box’ telematics and dash cam technology virtual supervision can have a big impact.”

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