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Driven to distraction: What we should be teaching new drivers on SA roads

2018-03-08 11:19

MasterDrive SA

Image: iStock

Johannesburg - With the new school and university year comes a number of new drivers. Before these drivers set off with their shiny new licenses, it's important to remember that new drivers do not have the experience and skill level that older drivers have. 

It is for this reason that as a parent or family member of a new driver, you need to spend time with those who have just received their license, trying to prepare for all scenarios which may not necessarily be covered in their tests.

Managing Director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says that in a society of constant distraction and immediate gratification, new drivers are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving.

Herbet says: "Driving while using your phone for five seconds, is equal to driving the length of a football field blind. Even if you are still looking at the road and just glancing at your phone, your field of vision is reduced by 50%. The importance of not driving distracted cannot be stressed enough.

Image: iStock

"Parents need to make their young adults understand the danger of not being completely focused on the road. Across the world, one of the largest groups of fatalities falls into the youth driver category.

"A successful and bright future depends on not picking up your phone while driving."

Forward thinking

Teach young drivers to not just focus on the car directly ahead of them.

Herbert adds: "They need to drive down the road keeping an eye on the car that is following too closely behind, the taxi that stopped suddenly three cars ahead of them, the person running to catch that taxi and the group of classmates sitting beside the road. 

"Every driver needs to focus on all people and objects around the car and be prepared to react to these should the worst happen. As a driver you need to not only think for yourself but everyone around you which only comes with practice and experience."

Another behaviour which needs to be discouraged and which could be difficult to do, is reckless driving.

Image: iStock

Herbert says: “A newly acquired license gives youth drivers a false sense of confidence to break laws and no longer follow the techniques learnt in their training. Human factors are believed to be the one of the most common causes of road crashes and fatalities amongst young male drivers.

"Last year young female drivers accounted for a large portion of fatalities. Young drivers need to see firsthand what reckless driving can do before any real change will take place.”

Image: iStock

Becoming a driver is more than learning tricks to successfully parallel park. “As parents we need to transfer the experience and knowledge we have gained from being drivers for many years. It is impossible to expect new drivers to have the same instincts and skills that we do, but t is possible to share this with them and send them for additional training.

Herbet concludes: “With a university education, clothing and other overheads the investment in a person, by the time they turn 21, is in excess of two and a half million rand.

"Given that obtaining a license is the first step one takes when moving forward in life, it is imperative, given our appalling road safety statistics, that we enhance their skills, whether that be through ourselves or with extra training." 

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