How ‘Parent Taxis’ can breed better drivers

Sheep roadsign
If your car is part of the UK’s largest taxi firm – Parent Taxis – then there’s a good chance you’ll spend a fair bit of your time on the road with one or more offspring sat in the back. But just how much time are you devoting to transporting your little darlings around the place? A study from the Goodyear Driving Academy has worked out the average parent spend some three-and-a-half hours a week taking the kids from A to B, which works out at 197 days by time they reach their 20th birthday. Instead of using this time to quiz your kids on their social life (as 14% of parents admit to doing) or acting as peacekeeper to the civil war that’s broken out in the back, parents are now being urged to use it to educate kids on the rules of the road.

Are kids ready for the road?

As a parent, it’s your job to worry endlessly about your kids and try to keep them out of trouble by warning them of the dangers posed by alcohol, sex, drugs and (bad) rock and roll. Plus, from a very early age, you’ll also need to teach them the rules of the road from a pedestrian’s point of view. But how many of us extend that to telling them the rules of the road from a driver’s perspective? There are a number of reasons this may be less of a concern for parents: after all, the kids will almost be adults by time they can legally drive, they’ll most likely be taught by a professional instructor, and they’ll have to pass the driving test to prove they’re ready for the road. However, some argue that too much emphasis is placed upon rushing young drivers through their test.

Graduated learning

Some Approved Driving Instructors would sooner have a graduated, long-term approach to learning rather than the current system of cramming everything into a few months followed by one hazard perception and one practical test. This theory is borne out somewhat by the terrifying statistic that road accidents are the biggest killer of the young people aged 17-24. So if we’re sitting in the car with our kids for a few hours a week, why not use the time to adopt this long-term learning approach by teaching them the rules of the road?

Traffic signs

There are a mind-numbing number of road signs adorning the sides of the UK’s highways and byways and it’s all but impossible to remember what they all mean – but playing traffic sign games with your kids can help you all make sure your knowledge is up to scratch. You can do this by asking them to name signs as you pass them, or by asking them to draw signs they see en route then explain what they are when you arrive back home. Alternatively, you could get the kids to make their own ‘traffic’ signs for around the house, remembering the following rules:
  • Circular signs give orders
  • Triangular signs give warnings
  • Rectangular signs give information

Speed in the spotlight

You may not realise it, but the way you drive will have an effect on the way your children drive when they’re old enough. So make sure you check your speed and teach your kids to do the same by telling them the speed limit on the road you’re on and how fast you’re driving at certain points on your journey. You can then move the game on by asking if they remember the speed limits on various roads and even get them to guess the speed – you could even put a forfeit in if they catch you speeding.

Weather warning

If a young driver takes their lessons and test over three months during the summer, they could be massively underprepared for the driving conditions winter throws up – and so it’s vital they understand that driving style has to be adapted to suit different road conditions. So when you’re on the school run, get the kids to look at the road surface and keep an eye out for any hazards such as pot holes – there are enough of them about – and how different weather conditions affect your driving. For more ideas on how to get your kids road ready and learn about things like car maintenance and what they can expect from their driving lessons, download the Goodyear Driving Academy Parent Pack.

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