READER REPORT:

Teen drivers, are they the secret killers?

TANIA GREEN
Last updated 12:00 24/07/2013
Teen driver

Teenagers are too immature to be behind the wheel of a car.

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Car accidents heard on the news these days can range from the smaller, more inconvenient type that clog up morning traffic and cause general annoyance, to the utterly sickening carelessness of some people who have just caused the death of your innocent neighbours on a family holiday.

Despite the changing factors in the cause of all these accidents, one constant remains. My frustration, which I am hoping is shared by many others.

Anyone that knows me knows that frustration is one of my main traits. I've had arguments with my dad about gun control in the United States that have lasted days, and that is probably one of the only matters that I am seriously passionate, aside from driving in New Zealand.

In my mind, there are always going to be those accidents that couldn't be prevented, but there are so many accidents I hear of each year which make me say again and again, "now that wouldn't have happened if...". Nine times out of ten the sentence finishes with "...we didn't have this driving system."

Most of the people I talk to about this issue agree that the driving system in this country is a joke. Obviously not my school friends though, having such an easy test meant a free pass to drive your mates to McDonald's at lunch times.

I can still remember my test, which is amazing to me since it only took up twenty minutes of my time. Being from Taupo there wasn't the intimidation of big city driving hanging over me, and I passed my test by driving around the block, doing a parallel park up the road and one hill start (on a hill of about ten degrees), then five minutes on an out of town road.

I nearly failed the in town section due to not stopping for a pedestrian on her way to cross who was only just coming out of the bank ten metres away, and I did fail the out of town section for not mentioning a couple of hazards that could have run out and killed me at the time.

You may be able to sense that I found this all absolutely ridiculous. But I pulled back into the AA and he handed me a flimsy piece of paper now legally giving me the responsibility to go racing around town with my friends in a metal death box.

Touch wood, I have never had any major accidents, nor have I caused any. But, coming out of high school I certainly heard of a fair few that could have fallen under the 'utterly careless resulting in fatality' category.

The only reason I can proudly acknowledge my untarnished record is because of my background. We come from England, where the driving test lasts days at a time, at all times of the day and in all manner of driving conditions.

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For this reason, I hold a lot of respect for that flimsy plastic card in my wallet. It represents the preciousness of my life each time I get into a car and that I have been entrusted with the responsibility of others lives when I am driving. It reminds me that if I die from driving, it was at my own hand and if I take others with me, it could have been through my faults.

But I don't feel very confident driving with that mindset knowing that the government handed it to me so freely, especially since I am likely to be one of the only 21-year-olds with this mindset in the country.

After reading that teens on their restricted license are crashing at an alarming rate, and that law-breaking has become the norm among teen drivers on their restricted license, I thought back to my driving test.

This article states that parents are to blame for this recklessness, for not enforcing safe driving properly and doing little to manage their child's driving.

There is one small word in that sentence that sums up one reason to blame for this issue: child. The only other issue that I believe is to blame for the driving problems is the driving test itself. Giving our children the opportunity to take a driving test at such a young, immature age, with the driving test in the state that it is, is absolute murder. It's like giving a kid who just told mum he wants to be a doctor when he grows up the scalpel and saying "ok let's see what you've got".

Before the government wants to blame everyone else for the amount of accidents our youth gets into, perhaps they should consider the fact that they are to blame for giving them the tools to be so reckless in the first place.


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