Most important investment in the youth

Youth Month not only marks a significant day in South Africa’s history but is an important month to consider the future of the country’s youth. An essential aspect of equipping the youth to reach their full potential in the future is providing the skills to handle one of today’s biggest threats to their safety.

According to the Road Accident Fund (RAF), 40% of road deaths involve the youth. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, expands: “Various factors make young drivers more susceptible to crashes than older, more experienced drivers. It would be remiss to neglect investing in a young driver’s future and not equipping them to handle South Africa’s often notorious roads.

“Putting the tragedy of these statistics aside for a moment, one can reduce this down to numbers to emphasis the folly of not contributing this to a young driver’s future. The South African government estimates the average middle income household spends more than R1,6 million on a child until 18 years of age. With this in mind, it seems quite illogical to not prioritise a young driver’s safety on the road.”

It is not just the lack of experience that makes young drivers more vulnerable to crashes “The tendency to indulge in dangerous behaviours along with inexperience increases their risk exponentially. Thus, spend time with your young driver being intentional in the valuable skills and experience you impart with them.

“It takes practice, practice, practice to raise one’s experience - let them take the wheel every available moment. When they drive, do not just tell your young driver what not to do but place emphasis on why things like speeding, distracted driving or forgoing seatbelts can go very wrong. Lastly, invest in additional training after obtaining their license to teach them the finer nuances.”

The 5 most common dangerous driving habits in youth drivers:

  1. Speeding: 1 in 5 fatal car crashes amongst young drivers involve speeding, with males twice as likely to speed and cause a fatal crash.
  2. Drunk driving: 1 in 5 youth drivers killed in crashes drank alcohol beforehand, at least 2 out of three of these drivers were not wearing seatbelts either.
  3. Texting and driving: 1 in 9 teens killed in crashes had a distracted driver at the wheel.
  4. Driving with other young drivers: for every additional young person in the car, the risk increases significantly.  
  5. Inexperience: young drivers have the highest risk of being involved in a crash within the first month of obtaining their license.

The greatest lesson for parents to take from this Youth Month is to invest just as much in your young driver’s ability to drive on South African roads as all other aspects of a successful life.