It is a well-roasted chestnut in the UK – we all know that the demographic group responsible, proportionately, for the most car crashes are young drivers, and young males especially. It is a significant social problem, and one that I have explored many times before. It is a difficult task to over-ride the innate cockiness, ostentatiousness and stubbornness of a young driver who wants to prove to his friends what a good driver he is by averaging 50 miles per hour everywhere, even through city centres.
It is dangerous to generalize, of course – there are many very careful young drivers, who will be tired of being tarred with the same brush as their more reckless counterparts, but the fact is that a handful of people can do great damage to lives. And even the most careful young drivers, as I remember from personal experience, occasionally get egged on and goaded into doing something they shouldn’t by their peers.
But the fact is, something can be done. Speeding and reckless driving, it could be argued, is borne of the arrogance of youth, ignorance and naivety, the attitude of, ‘Oh, it’ll never happen to me’ and the lack of consideration of consequences, But young drivers aren’t vindictive or malicious, they’re just careless.
One couple’s drive to cut car crash tragedies
To this end, a Scottish couple who lost their son in a car crash earlier this year have teamed up with their local police force to launch a campaign to save lives.
Diane and Graham Matheson’s son Callum died when his friend Ahlee Jackson crashed a car with a two-litre engine through a wall and into a tree on Island Bank Road, Inverness.
She was only 17, had no license, and was drunk. She also died in the crash.
Mr and Mrs Matheson stated “Callum was in the car less than a minute before he was killed – he took a chance.
“If you are going to be a passenger think about the driver you are going to get in the car with. If they take a chance or speed then don’t go with them.
“As a newly-qualified driver if you take passengers you are responsible for their lives. If you love your friends take responsibility for them when driving.”
The scheme, which will involve Northern Constabulary distributing leaflets at various locations including Inverness College, will educate young drivers on various relevant topics including ‘drink or drug-driving, speeding, lights, tyres, using mobile phones while driving, seatbelts, altered exhausts, tinted windows, antisocial behaviour warnings and vehicle forfeiture’ as well as relevant penalties and punishments.
It also reminds young drivers that they will lose their license if they notch up six points in the first two years of driving, something that could be accumulated through two illegal tyres or one speeding misdemeanour.
Inspector John Smith, head of the Constabulary’s road policing unit, said: “Young drivers are often responsible for collisions due to inexperience or are just not aware of all the legislation that applies to them more so than it does to other drivers.
“Diane and Graeme Matheson have obviously suffered a great personal tragedy but with their support we can engage with parents and help them appreciate their role in educating young drivers.”
The Mathesons also set up their own website, www.deadlymates.com, to remind young drivers of the dangers of reckless road use, and to remind them to have the confidence to refuse a lift with someone whose driving they fear could harm them.
Source: The Inverness Courier
Date Published: October 26, 2010
Author: David Brown