Saturday, September 15, 2007

I can't hold back on this one...

I see in today's Herald that debate has begun about raising the age for obtaining a driver's license.

I do no believe the age for obtaining a driver's license should be changed.

Our eldest son is currently on his Restricted License for a car and motorbike. We live rurally, and the benefit of having him driving is immense. He has a couple of part-time jobs, one of which involves him being on the job at 5:30 am. There is no public transport here, and even if there was the odds of it operating at 5:00am to our gate are not good. I hold down a full-time job myself, and I would be strongly averse to getting up at 5:00 am to drive him to work, and then come home for a bit more sleep and then go back to pick him up. That's before I take account of the extra cost of fuel (hopefully those of a Green persuasion will look at this and realise the environmental impact of raising the driving age).

My viewpoint is that the problem with young drivers is not the youngsters themselves, but their parents. If my son proves to be an idiot behind the wheel, there is no way I am going to let him advance to his full license. That's my responsibility as a parent. We have already stipulated that he will not own his own car while he lives at home and is at school. His choice of vehicles, therefore, is restricted to practical family vehicles of modest power. When he comes to make a choice of his own vehicle, then I hope that I will have a hand in this too. When I chose my first car my parents were involved in that decision, and were fully aware of the choice of vehicle I was making, despite me being over 21 at the time.

We have been so indoctrinated with the socialist mentality in this country that every time there is a problem it is supposed that "society will fix it". People are too eager and quick to throw away their volition and expect the Government to step in. I see this, not only in this matter but in other areas of topicality. Take the national response to anthropogenic climate change. Everyday I see examples of people who are convinced that climate change or global warming or whatever has been caused by mankind. Yet, even though they are utterly convinced that man is responsible, they do NOTHING to moderate their own behaviour. The most zealous believers in anthropogenic climate change seem to be the ones who do least to moderate their own behaviour, but instead agitate for "society to address the issue".

My point is not to get into the climate change debate, but to illustrate how Kiwis have become infected with a socialist mentality. Look at the variety of responses to problems of domestic child battery. The Children's Commissioner wants to commission another study into the issue. Politicians are skirting the obvious demographic, socio-economic and ethnic statistics and claiming it is a universal societal problem.

BUNKUM. It is a problem of a lack of personal responsibility and accountability. It is a history of poor parenting generating poor parenting.

Back to the driving age issue.

Leave the driving age at 15. There are many practical reasons for it.

Secondly, parents should start teaching their children to drive from as young an age as possible. Get the "mechanics" of driving taught as soon as the kid can see over the steering wheel. Take them out into a paddock and get them driving around and developing the skills so that when they have their learner's license and are on the road they are able to concentrate their efforts on negotiating traffic and other obstacles.

Thirdly, when your teenager gets their license, teach them in as many situations as possible. Don't just teach them to drive in town. Get them out onto the highway and unmarked country roads. Have them drive at night, in the rain and in heavy traffic. Don't let them take on these unfamiliar circumstances on their own when they get to their restricted license stage. [I am not one for too many regulations, but in taking my son through his Learner's License I thought it would be a good idea if Learners had to keep a diary of their driving experience, including such things as the daylight, weather and traffic conditions under which they had trained. The examiner could look at the diary and determine whether the candidate has had enough varied experience.]

Fourthly, as parents we must take responsibility for our children, and parent them. We must be parents, and should not hand that responsibility over to the State. Set sensible and logical boundaries that are appropriate to the age, experience and temperament of your child. You know them - an anonymous "pencil neck" at the Ministry of Transport or a Minister of Transport cannot make a sensible decision about the age at which your child is qualified to become a driver. Some 15 year olds are very good drivers. There are some 40 year olds who should be disqualified and kept off the road for good. Age is such an arbitrary measure. If your child is too immature to drive, then do not allow them to sit a license. If they are an idiot behind the wheel of a car then don't let them drive a Mitsubishi Evo - and if you do and they kill themselves or someone else, then don't blame the Government or "Society".

Kiwis, I appeal to you, don't concede on this one. Despite their reassurances, the Government does not know best.

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