Many Kiwi teens have been hitting the road this summer to attend one of dozens of music festivals around the country and the Parachute Festival will be no different.
For some it will be their first time driving long distances on unfamiliar roads in holiday traffic, and for their parents there will be nail-biting moments waiting for their teen to arrive safely at their destination and back home again.
The good news is that help is available for parents who want to do more. The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is providing practical advice and free tools via a dedicated website - www.safeteendriver.co.nz(external link) - to help parents work with their teenagers to plan their trips safely.
The website encourages parents to help their teen identify and manage the highest risks situations they might face when driving by themselves.
Driving to a festival can be challenging. Teenagers may encounter narrow, winding roads, road works, holiday-makers towing boats, and heavy traffic. These will all require them to reduce their speed and be patient. If their teen hasn't had much experience in these situations before then it would be worthwhile getting in the car with them to give them some practice - even if they're already allowed to drive by themselves.
Where possible, parents should get their teenagers to thoroughly plan their route so they can concentrate on driving and not be distracted by navigating. It's also a good idea to show teens how to do a safety check of their vehicle before setting off. Parents should talk to their teenagers about how to pay attention to the road, weather and traffic conditions and adjust their speed if necessary. Driving too fast for the conditions is one of the most common factors in teen driver crashes.
Teens will be keen to pack as much music into a day as they can, and getting a decent sleep isn't likely to be on their list of priorities. But even moderate sleep deprivation can be dangerous when driving.
"Watching your teenager drive away on a long journey can be an extremely worrying time for parents," says NZTA Access and Use Manager David Pearks.
"There are some practical steps you can take to help ensure they get there safely, and give you piece of mind. The Safe Teen Driver website not only gives you tips on the things you need to discuss with your teen, it also suggests some different ways to talk to your teenager so they don't just think you're over-reacting.
"The NZTA strongly recommends working with your teenager to plan their travel routes these summer holidays, to be involved and to talk to your child about the driving hazards they may encounter along the way."
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