Young drivers unfairly blamed, says instructor

By Carly Gibbs

1 comment

A Tauranga driving instructor is defending teenage drivers after they were accused of being irresponsible and dangerous in a new study.

The owner of The Driving School of Tauranga, Bobbie Anderson, says results from an Otago University study released this week are merely reflective of the minority.

The research shows many inexperienced drivers think they are better than other drivers on the road, would drive faster than 100km/h if they could, and think they are good to drive after a drink.

However, Mrs Anderson said "challenges" created on the road were not always youngsters' fault.

Teenagers were merely mimicking what they were taught by adults, she told Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

She gave the example of learner drivers, driving with their right wheel virtually on the centre line.

The teens had been taught by their parents to "keep away from the left" as to not to damage the car, but were dangerously "hugging" the middle of the road.

"They can only go on the example that is set. The child sits behind their parents for 10 to 15 years and observes how their parents drive and it's ingrained right from the time they're born," she said.

Mrs Anderson says when an accident occurs on the road and a teenage driver is involved, there is widespread media coverage on the driver's credentials. The same is not done for adult drivers.

"There is too much blame put on the young people."

Mrs Anderson said she predicted if the same Otago University study was done on adults, there would probably be the same results.

"I see it all the time out on the road - people talking on their phone, no seat belts, dogs ..."

Otago University road safety researchers, in the study into the attitude and behaviour of learner and restricted drivers in New Zealand, found 17 per cent of learners and 30 per cent of restricted drivers sometimes or frequently drove fast just for the thrill of it.

Forty-two per cent of learner drivers and 67 per cent of restricted drivers also said they would drive faster than 100km/h if there was no speed limit.

Dorothy Begg and her team interviewed almost 4000 drivers around New Zealand about their driving habits and attitudes as they made their way through the licensing stages between 2006 and 2008.

The research findings were presented this week at the Automobile Association's research symposium in Wellington.

The owner of April's Driving School, April McRae, has taught more than 1000 people to drive in the past 11 years. Ms McRae said she would be curious to know what percentage of the surveyed drivers had had professional driving lessons.

"I always think I'm seeing the best-behaved ones," she said, after hearing the findings.

On the flipside, though, Ms McRae said most Tauranga teenagers she taught admitted to texting and driving.

It did not surprise her that young drivers, overall, thought they were superior on the road.

"I think it's immaturity, and they've seen an improvement in their driving so they probably think they're as good as everybody else. Not that they're going to get better," she said.

Mike Owen, the police highway patrol sergeant in Te Puke, said the statistics spoke for themselves and the reality was learner and restricted licence holders were over-represented in crashes.

"And admittedly the majority are at fault in those crashes."

Mr Owen said the reason for graduated licences was for the purpose of gaining experience. Some of the comments made by teens in the Otago study were "alarming" but not overly surprising, he said: "I had a 16-year-old in the back of the patrol car with me who [I arrested after a pursuit] and he said he would have got away from me. He was going to drift around a [35km/h] corner at 100km/h and 'boost away'.

"It was just a fabrication of his imagination."

Have your say -  email the editor on:

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 03 Dec 2016 21:29:17 Processing Time: 810ms