In recent months, we have heard a lot about elderly drivers and their fitness to be on the road.
That prompted Christopher from Worcester to ask on our curiosity page: “There are accidents each day on Massachusetts highways involving all ages. Why do we only concentrate on the elderly drivers who get into accidents?”
In fact, there is as much concern, perhaps more, about teens and whether they are really ready to drive. Some parents in fact are taking a radical approach to this issue. One of them is Nancy Thomson of Sudbury. Her daughter, Nessa, is 18 and still doesn’t have a driver’s license.
Her mom refused to let her get her permit when she turned 16, “I thought she was too distracted. I worried about her being on the phone, fiddling with the radio knobs, not paying attention, “says Thomson.
Nessa, needless to say, was not thrilled, “I was annoyed and angry and I felt like, everyone else is getting it so why shouldn’t I?”
But there are legitimate reasons for Thomson’s concerns. “New drivers are four times more likely to die in a crash than other drivers, and they are 14 times more likely to be injured in a crash,” says Mary Maguire of AAA Southern New England.
And there are tragic examples. Police believe texting and speed may have played a role in the death of 18-year-old Cassie Poulin of Clinton.
Jordan Cibley’s father thinks he dropped his cell phone while driving and crashed into a tree when he leaned over to pick it up.
Parents worried about letting their kids get behind the wheel can do a lot to get them ready. AAA offers a free program called “Dare to Prepare” for 15-year olds. “One of the things we talk about is a parent-driver contract where parents sit down and discuss what are our expectations for our teenagers driving skills and practices,” says Maguire.
Your child doesn’t have to have a permit to take the classroom portion of the driver’s education class. And when they do start to drive, the instructors can help assess their readiness, “On a few rare occasions, I have talked a student out of taking the test and spoke to their parents and encouraged them to do a little more practice,” says Raymond Haley, owner of the Quincy Auto Driving School.
And in the end, it’s the parents who are in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining when a child is ready for this serious responsibility.
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