The NZ Transport Agency and Kiwi parenting experts are urging teen drivers and their parents to stick to the conditions of learner and restricted licences, with new research showing nearly half of teen drivers have broken at least one graduated licensing condition.
A survey of 574 parents carried out during the first six months of this year found that many teen drivers had breached their learner or restricted licence conditions, often with the permission of their parents.
The research found that:
Transport Agency Road Safety Director Ernst Zöllner said while a range of measures introduced in recent years had helped to cut the number of fatal and serious injury crashes involving teenage drivers from 475 in 2008 to 257 last year, it was important that young drivers complied with the conditions set out by the Graduated Driver Licensing System in order to acquire the skills and maturity needed to become safe drivers, in a gradual and a supervised process.
New Zealand’s graduated licensing system requires learner drivers to be supervised at all times when driving, while drivers on a restricted licence cannot carry passengers or drive between the hours of 10pm and 5am without the supervision of a fully licensed driver.
“These conditions are not random - they are based on a wealth of research and analysis, and they specifically address the driving behaviours which most put young people at risk of crashing. Young drivers are over-represented in fatal and serious crashes, and the risk of crashing increases when driving unsupervised, carrying passengers or driving alone late at night.
“New Zealand’s Graduated Driver Licensing System is recognised as being one of the best in the world in terms of safety, but we need the support of parents and the wider community to make it as effective as possible in keeping our young people safe.
Parenting expert/psychologist Nigel Latta said it was important for parents to stay involved in their teen’s driving even when they get their restricted licence.
“Though your teen may have the bit of paper that says they can drive by themselves, they have a long way to go before they’ll have all the skills and experience they need. Check up on their driving regularly. You need to be a coach, not a rubber stamp,” Mr Latta said.
Parents can get tips from psychologist Dr Ian Lambie at www.safeteendriver.co.nz(external link), a website developed by the Transport Agency to provide practical advice and free tools specifically for parents of teen drivers.