Support teens to make good driving decisions

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Do you have children?

Are they about 15 and just starting to push the limits? Maybe staying out late? Asking to go to parties?

I have.

If you are already talking with them about being safe in a car, well done. If you are not talking with them now, it is not too late to start.

I would rather be woken up at 1am and hear ‘‘I need a ride’’ than wake up at 1am to hear ‘‘my friend’s hurt (or even worse, dead) because they crashed’’. Not every young person makes bad decisions around driving, but some do.

Too many times, a person is pressured into either driving when they should not or getting into a car when they know it is not a good thing to do or they do not feel safe.

Peer pressure is a terrible thing and becomes worse when you add alcohol into the situation — it makes it even harder to just say ‘‘no’’. By starting now and talking with your children about how it is all right to say ‘‘no’’, or call you even when they think they may have done something wrong — surely you agree it can only be a good thing.

As a parent, I cannot bury my head in the sand and think my children will never go out and drink alcohol, get drunk or be around people who do. All I can do is talk with them about the unexpected consequences if they do and trust them to make the right decision at the right time.

For me, a challenge is going to be me not just saying, ‘‘It is simple you can’t go to that party’’.

We need to let them grow, but we must also do the best we can to protect them while they do this.

Even as they get older and leave home and go to college or university, those early conversations around knowing your limits and recognising warning signs in yourself could prove invaluable.

In August last year, in Timaru, acrash happened that should never have happened. In that crash we had the needless loss of life of two 15-year-olds and three 16-year-olds.

When you read the court reports, you can see peer pressure being used on people in the group. The moment that car hit the power pole, lives changed, lives were lost, with parents, friends and other family members losing part of themselves — and nothing will ever bring those pieces back.

We have had our own horrific moments in the Waitaki in recent years as well.

As parents and carers all we can do is talk with our children around making good decisions and how to handle difficult situations. I know it is difficult, but we need to do this.

Drive safer, Waitaki.

Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator