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Ask your children for criticism this Christmas

17 December 2010

Encouraging children to assess your skill and behaviour behind the wheel may sound like asking for trouble, but it is a good exercise for the family.

They may not be old enough to drive but the sooner you get children interested in safe road use and driving the better. By making a game of it, asking them to co-pilot, or guess what road signs mean, you can keep them occupied and pass on your experience without it feeling like a chore.

Getting child passengers to pick up any mistakes will help them learn what driving and safe road use is all about. It will also make parents aware of any bad habits they may have developed.

Typical dangerous habits include:

• Driving too close to the vehicle in front
• Driving at inappropriate speeds
• Forgetting to wear a seatbelt
• Rushing observations and failing to use mirrors
• Approaching junctions too quickly

Passing on good driving and road use practice is important. Children begin to learn driving characteristics from their parents at an early age. This means, once they start to drive, they may fall into bad or dangerous driving habits learnt from mum or dad.

Road deaths are the biggest killer of children and young people in the UK. Young adults are at particular risk. In 2009, more than ten 17-24 year old drivers were killed every week in crashes on UK roads.

The driving test ensures new drives have practical skills but it cannot guarantee they have the experience that helps more established drivers avoid crashes. This is where parents can have a positive impact, measuring their own abilities and passing on the best advice.

Visit the parents' page for more information

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