In the UAE, the legal age to drive is 18, but learning can start at the age of 17, and sometimes, even younger. There’s still a motion to adjust the legal driving age to 16, just like in the US. However, many believe it unnecessary and a threat to traffic safety.
Motion or not, the UAE has a lot of teenage drivers and a lot of parents are concerned.
Many believe that 18 is still a tender age, and young people of this age still lack maturity, which is necessary while driving on the road. After all, studies reveal that the prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that controls judgment, impulse control, and values does not develop fully until the age of 25.
However, parents are also advised to prepare for common young drivers’ issues for ‘just in case’ scenarios. What are these issues?
Most teen drivers start out quite gingerly on the road. But, once they gain confidence and no longer have a more experienced driver accompanying them, they tend to forget or begin to test the legal limits of driving.
Overspeeding is one of the top traffic issues teen drivers are guilty of. If you’re a parent, brace yourself for the penalty fees that you may need to help your teen shoulder. Also, be prepared to sit your child down and talk about road accountability and the serious consequences of speeding.
- Car body damage
This is another prevalent car problem among young drivers. Since they still lack road experience, they tend to struggle with tight corners and parking spaces. Needless to say, cracks, dings or dents, and scratches or scrapes are quite likely to happen to their personal car or the family car.
Therefore, it helps to have a reliable car service center that you can turn to and take care of the body repair to restore the appearance of the vehicle.
- Sudden car breakdown
This may or may not have anything to do with having a complete greenhorn on the wheel, but sudden car breakdowns are a big problem for teenage drivers.
Newbies usually only know how to get a vehicle running and are clueless about even the basic repairs for a car. So, parents should always make sure that their teen driver knows about roadside assistance, and not panic when the car suddenly breaks down. This way, it’s not a family crisis that would require mom or dad to hastily leave work and come to their young one’s rescue.
But there’s also a way to prepare for this scenario. Some driving schools also offer basic automotive troubleshooting and repair classes — something for parents to think about as long as they are sending their kids to driving school.
- Forgetting to change the oil
This is a car owner responsibility that most teen drivers know little about. Quite often, they only learn the need to change the oil in their car when the vehicle conks out on them and refuses to run.
It is the parents’ task to remind a newbie about the schedule for changing the oil and auto tune-ups, especially if the car used is a hand-me-down or formerly the family vehicle.
This is perhaps the most concerning out of all the issues. According to the Teen Driver Car Accident Statistics 2016, 17- and 18-year-old drivers make up the largest percentage of people involved in car crashes.
Distracted driving (texting while on the wheel, talking to friends, and eating) is the leading reason behind the crashes. Another is driving really late, and when one is tired.
Therefore, to parents — think it a necessity to remind your young driver of proper road decorum. Most teen drivers do not come out of a car crash unscathed or alive. However, if your child has taken driving lessons, this shouldn’t be a major concern since the importance of road safety and courtesy are part of the curriculum.
Teach road responsibility early on
Driving at 18 years of age is often considered a rite of passage, and it is. It is a big, wide, open door to greater independence. Therefore, parents should prepare their children adequately for the huge responsibility of driving a car. Teach them, guide them, and continuously remind them of the right road practices.
Better yet, enrol them in a driving institute where they will not only acquire basic driving skills but also (and more importantly) take to heart the importance of adhering to road signs and traffic rules as well as practicing road safety and courtesy.
This way, you Instill in your teen drivers the fact that when they take the wheel, they hold not only their own life; they also hold the lives of their passengers, as well as those of the motorists around them on the road, in their hands.