On a recent Sunday morning, my wife and I were walking our new puppy on one of our regular walks near our home.

We were on a walking track above the road at the point where another road comes to a T-junction with the road we were on.

We were enjoying the sunshine, the peace and quiet, when we heard the threatening noise of a car with what must have been a souped-up engine approaching the junction at speed.

As we watched, the car, with its young driver, did not slow down, but took the turn with squealing tyres and swung left at such a speed that he had to veer across to the far side of the road as he accelerated away.


The junction is one where visibility in either direction is limited, so most drivers would approach it with caution, to make sure there was nothing on the road, either to the left or right, that might cause a problem.

In this case, however, the young man was so intent on showing how clever he was that he took the risk that the road was clear.

To our horror, we could see from our vantage point that there was indeed something else on the road.

Walking towards us, on the side of the road on to which the speeding car had strayed, were an elderly lady with her 10-year-old granddaughter and little dog.

We saw them freeze as they realised the approaching car was heading straight for them. We saw the car's brake lights flash on, but it was too late. After it had hit them, the car kept going and sped off.

"Call an ambulance," I shouted to my wife, but in truth there was almost certainly nothing they would be able to do.

You will be relieved to hear, dear reader, that while most of what I have related actually happened, there was - thankfully - no elderly lady, little girl or dog on the road. My point, however, is there could have been.

There is no way the young driver (who was real enough) could have been confident that the road was clear.


He was simply prepared to take the risk, for the sake of practising or demonstrating what he saw as his driving skills. The risk was not, of course, his to take - those potentially threatened by his actions were other (and innocent) people.

At a time when there is understandably heightened concern about our tragic road toll, I am not suggesting that young drivers are disproportionately at fault.

What I do say, however, is that there is something wrong with how we are bringing up our youngsters if such irresponsible and anti-social behaviour is the outcome.

I mentioned our new puppy. One of his endearing qualities, common to all young puppies, is his perception that he is the centre of the universe and that it has all been created especially for him. Over time, he will settle down and grow out of it and become a manageable member of our family.

Young people are the same. One of the most important aspects - hopefully - of growing up is the realisation that we all live in society, and share this wonderful world, with many others - other people and other creatures - all of whom have the same claim as we have to do what they like.

A mature person is one who has learned that lesson and who takes care of and shows thought for others.

Helping young people to reach that state of maturity is one of the main purposes and goals of good parenting. We will all benefit from living in a more thoughtful and caring society if that responsibility is properly discharged.

The parents of the young driver whose anti-social behaviour I have described are no doubt totally unaware of - or at least think themselves to be unable to do anything about - his propensity to behave as badly as he did. But, if that is the case, they should be ashamed of themselves.