Should parents really be teaching kids how to drive?
PARENTING is a little like driving.
You're always scanning ahead for problems, yelling at people who (apparently) can't hear you and you need eyes in the back of your head.
Every time you think you have your route all mapped out, some roadblock is thrown in your way, there's always way too much noise and if you're not doing five things at once you'll probably die. And you're not allowed to do any of it drunk.
While I'm yet to start navigating my way through the years of teen chaos, there's one event that has my internal GPS (Good Parent Siren) already sounding the hazard alarm.
Teaching the kids how to drive.
Look, I'm all for road safety and encouraging experience but this whole Learners Logbook thing has me freaking out.
Under the Queensland licensing system, if you are under 25 you need to record at least 100 hours of supervised driving.
One. Hundred. Hours.
In a car. With my children.
Let's not even mention the rumours that continue to swirl that this number will soon be upped to 200 hours (I'm praying this is just an urban myth used to taunt us younger parents).
Queensland is already phasing out its old learner driver exam, with teens now facing a new online program.
Instead of the 30-question paper test, the PrepL exam requires users to answer about 400 questions and participate in real-life interactive challenges online.
I'm sure it will make for better drivers … and ever more stressed parents.
I fear what's next around the corner.
I'd better start saving now for the professional lessons, the extra petrol to complete these supervised drives and the alcohol for post-lesson therapy.
The thought of my children behind the wheel makes me feel … much as my father must have felt 25 years ago.
Back then you took a 10-minute multiple choice quiz for your L plates, then six months later you could take the driving test for your Ps, as long as you'd had at least one professional lesson.
I'm a little ashamed to admit that while I had at least a dozen professional lessons, I only hold an automatic licence. As one friend explained to me, I don't drive, I steer.
But it's my Dad's fault. He wouldn't let me apply for my manual licence. The reason? He'd seen me drive dodgem cars. You know, where the POINT is to hit other people. I was actually good!
Still, he was paying for the lessons (the disinclination to drive with minors runs strong in my family), so an automatic licence it was for me. Sure, I could have upgraded it in the years since, but my left foot likes to chill while we drive.
In fact, while I passed my test on the first attempt (despite an awkward three-point turn which I turned into five, still without actually changing direction … I forgot to move the wheel, literally my one job), my driving record does show some difficulty with the concept of steering.
To be clear, I have never had an accident with another car.
I have however sunk a golf buggy five metres under water and driven a car through the wall of my mother's living room. (The look on her face when she ran out of her bedroom to see me, in my turquoise Hyundai Excel, parked on the carpet, glass everywhere, bushes strewn under my wheels … priceless. Unlike the bill to clean up the mess.)
So I can see the value in getting our kids behind the wheel for a prolonged period of supervision, even if it does make me die a little inside.
But should we really be the supervisors?
An NRMA survey in 2016 showed parents were driving their children to adopt bad habits on the road.
Almost a third of the people aged 16-19 who were surveyed said they had been taught incorrect skills by their parent or supervising driver, which needed to be corrected by a professional instructor.
The survey also found 37 per cent of learner drivers had witnessed a parent or supervising driver speeding, and another 20 per cent had seen them fail to indicate when turning or using a mobile phone when on the road.
I'm pretty sure no parent is prepared, nor can afford, to pay for 100 hours of professionally supervised driving, so perhaps there should be a test for parents as well just to make sure we're reinforcing good habits.
And just a thought, maybe we should make it mandatory that the parent(s) should hold a manual licence.
Sure, it might drive my husband crazy being the sole supervisor, but I'm only thinking of the children.