Young driver

Jekyll & Drive: Parents Anything But ‘Road Models’


Have you ever had a snack or checked a text message while driving? Even with your kids in the car? Well, you’re not alone. Many UK parents’ usual role model behaviour switches dramatically as soon when they get in the driving seat, according to new research. One in five mums admitted to road rage in front of their kids and 14% of parents said they drive through red lights.

The Goodyear Driving Academy study, which looks into parents’ behaviour behind the wheel, also revealed:

  • Nearly half of parents (45%) have eaten food while driving with their children.
  • One in three parents and a quarter of mums have read text messages.
  • 11% of mums and dads have tried to read a map.

Like father, like son

According to the study many parents are unaware the influence their driving habits have on their children, with over a third (36%) saying they don’t believe their driving has any effect on their children’s future attitudes behind the wheel.

Psychotherapist Christine Webber disagrees.

“With driving, as with many other life skills, we absorb information and skills and habits from parents. When we are young, we accept what Mum and Dad do in a very uncritical way and what Mum or Dad do is often considered the norm, if not absolutely perfect. So if parents want their children to grow up to be safe drivers, they really need to take a long hard look at their own driving behaviour – because their offspring is soaking up what they do like a sponge, and from a surprisingly young age.”

Mum of two Jaime Oliver, 35, from Nottingham, admits road rage is a big issue for her.

“I drive with my children almost every day, dropping them at nursery and school, taking them to after-school classes or on general family trips. I know I have a few bad driving habits, mainly road rage, and I do sometimes lose my rag with other drivers in front of the children. When it happens they always look a bit shocked because it’s just not the way I usually behave in front of them, and I feel awful afterwards. It’s definitely something I need to learn to control.”

The Goodyear Driving Academy study also found that:

  • Mums are more likely to have forgotten their driving training, with 22% admitting they have forgotten most of their training compared to just 13% of Dads.
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) think they would fail their driving test if asked to retake it.
  • 15% of parents said their children have criticized their driving ability.
  • Despite these findings, 40% would still be happy to teach their children to drive when the time comes.

The Goodyear Driving Academy

The research coincides with the Goodyear Driving Academy campaign, which seeks to empower parents across the UK to play a more conscious role in their child’s early driver education through its Parent Pack, Driving Academy online driving tool and Young Driver lessons.

Kate Rock, spokesperson for the Goodyear Driving Academy, said: “Parents play a hugely influential role in their children’s development and whilst they work so hard to be good role models at home, it seems that we often forget our good intentions once we get behind the steering wheel.”

“When it comes to frequent “ferrying about” in the car, there is plenty of opportunity for children to be exposed to the bad habits that parents could be passing on. We want to help these people to support their child’s young driver education from a much earlier age but they must first ensure that their own driving behaviours and skills are up to scratch.”

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