Driving Down Risk for Younger Motorists


The risk factor can never be fully eradicated from driving. Every time we get into a car and move away we are taking a risk as we cannot foresee what will happen next. Risk is an important part of human development and we all react to it in different ways depending upon our personality and the situation we find ourselves in. the secret to safe driving relies on the control of risk rather than ignoring it or simply shrinking away and avoiding it altogether.

The younger age group are more willing to take risks as they are at a developmental stage where they are trying to find out where their limits are. This can translate into reckless driving and carelessness with the inevitable consequences. I have seen former pupils speeding around and going against everything they were taught during their driving lessons. They listened at the time and were successful in passing their test but the message did not stick. The sense of freedom and self identity which goes hand in hand with gaining a driving licence overrides any previous teaching. It seems rules and advice are ineffective against our natural impulses to seek excitement and danger.

At the other end of the scale we see younger drivers who fear risk and will do almost anything to avoid it. Fear of emerging at junctions or even of moving off on a hill in case they roll backwards are symptoms of an inability to control risk. A dependence on being warned in advance or denying the element of risk altogether play a part in making a driver unsafe on the road. The timid driver is unpredictable and slow which can be a danger to other motorists. This can be seen on the road when drivers hold up traffic and invite others who are impatient into dangerous overtaking. Knowing there is risk involved in a task and managing it helps us to function well and gain a sense of self control. This is the middle ground we are looking for when it comes to good driving.

Younger drivers need to be taught active risk management from the very beginning of their driving career. When risk is neither feared nor embraced it can be controlled and decision making made all the more easier. Peer pressure will always be a factor for younger drivers especially males and this can be hard to account for as they are willing to allow others to tell them what level of risk is acceptable for fear of ridicule. Younger drivers need to have an idea of personal responsibility and this could be instilled if traffic education was on the school syllabus and they were taught about attitudes to driving from a young age.

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