Mum was right all along

Mum was right all along

It probably isn't until you're much older, wiser and know the dangers of driving that you appreciate what parents and loved ones of newly qualified drivers go through. Here, Brake's Mike Bristow gives his personal account of being at both ends of that spectrum.

Roll back to 2008 when my younger self was rewarded for all of his hard work and success at school and college with a car for his 18th birthday. Just like most 18-year-olds with their first car, I was excited about the freedom; I could go anywhere I wanted.

However, my dream of endless road trips with friends was soon destroyed when my parents stepped in. "You can't take the car out of town for the first few weeks and you're certainly not driving to college!" Those were the words my mum and dad firmly said to me, and in typical teenage fashion, I huffed, sighed and argued but they wouldn't budge.

They stayed true to their word and it wasn't until a month after I was given the car that I was allowed to make the 60-mile round trip to college; and it wasn't until the summer months came in that I was allowed to be out on the roads in the evenings.

Seven years on and with a bit more maturity nowadays, I finally realised why my parents were so strict. This was partly due to my position at Brake, but also when my partner passed her test and we got our first car together. Much like me in 2008 she was excited and couldn't wait to get out on the roads on her own. Deep down inside I was petrified. The thought of anything happening to her while I wasn't there was horrible, and is something no one should have to experience.

Sadly there's always an element of worry when a loved one goes out driving on their own for the first few months. I quickly understood why my parents put those barriers in place; it was because they were scared. They were scared that I was inexperienced and over confident. Even 12 months on from my partner passing her test, I still worry when she drives. It shouldn't have to be like that.

In hindsight, I'm thankful for the way my parents treated me when I first got a car. They were trying to protect me. Inexperience and over confidence are not great traits for new drivers to have, but many of them do. My dad once said to me, "you don't start learning to drive until you pass your test". How scary is that! It almost sounds like all those hours of lessons were just a taster of what was to come.

I am a huge believer in Graduated Driver Licencing. There's so much more to driving than the basics you learn for your test. Things like motorway driving, rural roads, driving at night or in adverse weather aren't normally covered in great detail during lessons. Think back to when you passed your test, knowing what you do now about driving – were you ready to go onto a motorway? Or do you think extra tuition would have been helpful?

At some point, everyone has probably heard the line "mother knows best", or something to that effect. It turns out that holds a lot of truth. It's horrible feeling fear, and no one should have to live in fear of the worst happening to a loved one on our roads. Graduated Driver Licencing has been proven to work overseas and would go a long way to protecting more lives in the UK if the system were introduced here.

And a final word to all those stroppy teenagers reading this who just want their freedom but their parents have put boundaries in place – I promise you one day you will understand their fear and you will understand why.

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Friday, 03 April 2020

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