GAINING your driver’s licence is one of the great rites of passage in Australia.
I still remember my nerves as I faced my driving test almost 30 years ago on a hot summer morning in regional NSW, and also my relief that there appeared to be no other cars on the road at 8.30am on that Tuesday in the middle of January.
That licence (and the keys to my father’s car) were my tickets to freedom – the chance to finally go where I wanted, when I wanted.
Getting my P-plates was a much bigger milestone than turning 18 or 21, and most of my friends felt the same.
But it took much longer to appreciate that holding a licence was a privilege and to fully understand the responsibility that came with it.
Now I’m a father, the idea of my children getting behind the wheel fills me with a nagging dread. Working in this job, in particular, I regularly read the stories of just how quickly it all can all go wrong for young drivers – and just how easy it is for anyone to make a bad decision.
The terrible case this week of a young Blayney man jailed for his role in a drunken crash that left one of his best mates permanently injured rammed home that message more forcefully than any number of education programs.
When my teenage son asked me about the story after reading it on our website, I gave him all the details I could. Neither of us enjoyed the conversation but he is almost old enough to start driving, so he is getting too old to be spared the awful truth.
I asked him to think about what had happened to those young mates from Blayney and to ask himself why and how it happened. I asked him to think about what he should do in a similar situation.
One of a parent’s toughest jobs is giving your child the space to become an independent adult, and trusting them to make good decisions.
It’s a leap of faith, but it’s one we all must make.
All the best, Murray