Parental ‘reverse psychology’ can steer learner drivers in the right direction

‘Reverse psychology’ may play an important role in parents teaching their children driving skills, says AA Driving School. This is because they often make a conscious decision to avoid doing the things they hated experiencing as a passenger.

In a recent survey, more than half (51%) of the most recently qualified drivers, aged 18-24 years, say the most crucial thing they have learnt from their parents’ driving is not to drive so close to the vehicle in front.

Hard on its heels is not taking risks while over-taking (44%).

However, driving at a snail’s pace (43%) is a parental habit that young drivers pick up on negatively.

The survey underlines the value of qualified driving instruction to bring balance to a learner driver’s behaviour, both in the run-up to the driving test and in the future. This is particularly so after the coronavirus lockdown closed driving schools and left parents having to fill the gap.

Other parental bad driving habits that may have actually instructed their children what not to do are: not indicating (41%), driving while holding a mobile phone (41%), and waiting until the petrol tank is nearly empty before going to the petrol station (41%). Speeding steered a young driver in the opposite direction for 36%.

The way their parents drive sticks in people’s minds forever. The survey shows that from young adulthood into old age there is a remarkably consistent recollection of parental bad driving habits.

Those top 10 all-time bad driving habits your mother and father may have had are:

  1. Driving too close to the vehicle in front (tailgating) – 26%
  2. Driving at a snail’s pace – 23%
  3. Risky overtaking – 22%
  4. Waiting until the fuel tank is nearly empty before refilling – 22%
  5. Not indicating – 19%
  6. Speeding – 17%
  7. Driving while holding a mobile phone – 15%
  8. Shouting at other drivers – 15%
  9. Swearing at other drivers – 14%
  10. Driving with one hand on the wheel – 14%

Sarah Rees, AA Driving School managing director, said: “We know that the best way to pass your driving test is through a combination of private practice and professional lessons. The experience of driving with your parents is incredibly useful, but it cannot replace the expertise of a professional instructor who can iron out bad habits early on.

“It is often said that children are like sponges and absorb the behaviours and actions from those around them from a young age. Many parents spend hours every week being a taxi service for their children. As well as giving them some time together, being in the car together gives parents a good opportunity to set a good driving example, which can make our roads safer now and in the long run.

“Even if parents don’t always drive to test standard, it seems lots of children end up learning what not to do as well.” 

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