Over a recent family dinner, I had an interesting conversation with my wife’s parents, her grandfather and my two daughters, both of which have their driver’s license but both of which are subject to the graduated licensing system.
My daughters grew up knowing that if you drink, you are not to drive. Even in the days prior to their birth, when awareness isn’t what it is now, I always was aware of the fact that I couldn’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle if I had been drinking.
As a result, my little girls, who were use to dad driving (I enjoy driving and my wife does not), knew that mom got behind the wheel if dad had some wine with dinner or drinks with friends.
My 18 year old daughter made mention of the fact that the graduated system is excellent, but that she is concerned many others who are her age won’t know how to tell if they are “legally impaired” before driving home once they do turn 22. It was an insightful and interesting statement.
How does a 22 year old know when they can / can’t drive when for 6 years, they could only drive with no alcohol in their system?
At that age, they are beyond having relied on mom or dad for their daily questions. Many could be too young to simply talk to a friend or older sibling and not really knowing can be dangerous. Given that it is many years away, mom and dad, arguably the most influential people in their early lives, may not talk to them about it. After all, at that age, 22 seems like a lifetime away.
As the lawmakers get better at conditioning our youth through systems like graduated licensing, we too need to think ahead, as parents, as coaches, as teachers and as related family, to teach our youth about how to manage their decisions in the year’s ahead.
Graduated licensing helps. There is no doubt about it. However, this does not replace the education that we, as a society, need to impose on our children. My daughter taught me something over our Easter Sunday celebration; she taught me to be more aware of how I can help her and her sister today, to better prepare for driving in the years ahead.
Ontario drivers must have no alcohol in their system until when they are driving until they reach the age of 22.
Brian Bazely is co-founder of Driverseat, a vehicle transportation company.