Safe driving calls for common sense behind the wheel
Summer is just around the corner, and for many Kiwi teenagers it’s the season for road trips and music festivals.
For the parents of teen drivers it can be a nerve- racking time as their children embark on long journeys, some for the first time, to attend summer music festivals all over the country, from Coromandel Gold in Whitianga to the Rhythm & Alps festival in Canterbury.
To help parents ensure that their teen will be safe on the roads this summer, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is providing practical advice and free tools via a dedicated website: safeteendriver.co.nz.
The website encourages parents to work with their teen to identify hazards they may encounter when travelling by themselves, and how to manage them.
‘‘We’re urging parents to stay involved and help keep their teens safe on the roads this summer as they drive long distances to summer festivals around the country,’’ said NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield.
Long after teens get their licence they will face situations on the road they haven’t encountered before and being prepared will help them stay safe.’’
Driving to a festival can be a daunting task for a teen who hasn’t yet experienced narrow, winding roads, road works, sunstrike, holiday-makers towing boats, heavy traffic and fatigue.
Getting in the car with them to practise before they set off can be a good way to help them manage the risks when they’re on their own, even if they have already driven by themselves.
To provide teens with specific advice to help them arrive at their summer festival destination safely, the Safe Teen Driver website now also features a Summer Festivals Map.
The map gives advice on the typography of some key routes and highlights conditions that some teens might not have experienced before: safeteendriver.co.nz/festivalmap/
As part of the trip-planning process for festival-goers, parents and teens should plan the route they will take to the festival before they leave, so they can focus more on driving and less on finding their way. It is also important to make sure your teen understands how to drive to the conditions, and adjust their speed when the road, weather or traffic conditions change.
Driving too fast for the conditions is the most common factor in teen driver crashes.
‘‘As well as safe driving tips for teens, the Safe Teen Driver website features tips for parents on some of the most effective ways to talk to your teen about safe driving,’’ said Mr Dangerfield.
To find advice on how to get safely to High Life, Coromandel Gold, Parachute, Raggamuffin, Rhythm & Vines, WOMAD, La De Da, Raggamuffin, Homegrown, Luminate and Rhythm & Alps visit: safeteendriver.co.nz/festivalmap/
Tips for planning a journey:
Does your teenager know that driving at night requires more energy, concentration and experience? Encourage daytime driving when it is easier to spot hazards, visibility is better and they are less likely to feel fatigued.
Even a New Zealand summer has its fair share of wet weather.
Weather conditions can affect stopping distance – it takes longer for your teenager to stop on slippery, wet roads. In poor weather, encourage your teen to double the two-second rule to create a safe distance behind the car they’re following.
Most teenagers love the sun, but do they know how to avoid sun strike? To help minimise the effects, tell your teenager to keep their windscreen clean (inside and out), wear sunglasses when driving and use the car’s sun visors to block it out.
Let them know that sometimes the only safe thing to do is pull over and wait for a few minutes until the angle of the sun changes.
Everyone loves to go on holiday over the summer season, and often this means teens will encounter heavy traffic as they travel to the summer festivals. Remind them that in these situations the best response is to be patient, reduce their speed and regularly scan the road to be aware of their surroundings.
After the big event is over, it’s important your teen knows not to push their limits on the way home.
Talk to them about driver fatigue, encourage them to get some rest and to eat breakfast before hitting the road in the morning.
If possible they should share the driving with others who are also rested.