How parents drive today can affect the driving habits of our future generations

Written by Ben Ward

A friend of mine was recently driving around the suburbs of Canberra with her two year old when he exclaimed rather loudly to her “slow down Mummy, be careful!”. I guess it’s nice to see such a cautious toddler. But it got me thinking about how much children, and much later on teenagers, observe as passengers driving with their parents.

The truth of the matter is, children observe their parents’ driving behaviours and hence pick up any bad driving habits, from the first moment they get into a car with them.

Studies have shown that drivers under 25 years already have exceptionally high risk of being in a crash , with the most at risk group being the under 20s. Parents need to be aware of their own bad driving habits so as not to pass them on to children, and hence increase their risk of having a crash even further.

Aggressive behaviour on our roads, ‘road rage’ and other dangerous habits are easily passed on and learnt from an early age. If a new learner driver fails to use their indicators or drives very close to the car in front, it is usually because that’s what they’ve seen their parents do. Other bad habits include braking hard or too late, poor use of mirrors, using a mobile phone while driving, cutting in on other drivers and not handling the steering wheel in the correct manner. These are all habits parents could be passing on to their children, and these habits could end up costing them their lives.  

Risky driving behavior by teenagers is too often learned through observing their parents, according to a new survey (refer source note 1). About 90 percent of the teens report observing their parents talking on a mobile phone while driving, while 88 percent said they saw them speed. A summary of findings follows:

Talking on cell phone while driving
91% 90%
Speeding 88 94
Texting 59 78
Driving without a seat belt
47 33
Driving under the influence of alcohol 20 15
Driving under the influence of marijuana 7 16


At the National Driving Academy we encourage learner drivers to undertake professional lessons with our expert driving instructors combined with many hours of private practice with a parent, family member or driving mentor. But we also see the importance of offering support to the supervising driver to ensure they pass on only good habits to the learner.

As part of our commitment to helping parents instill good driving practices in their children right from the start, we encourage learners and their supervisors to undertake the Keys2Drive program. Keys2Drive is a program funded by the Federal Government which assists new drivers to prepare for the realities of P-Plate driving.

The program aims to equip the supervising driver with a practical coaching approach they can use throughout the learning-to-drive journey, to ensure any bad habits are not passed on. Learners are given a free 1 hour driving lesson with their supervising driver, usually a parent, with one of our ACT or Queanbeyan Keys2Drive accredited professional driving instructors. The program encourages aware, sustainable and safe driving, and by assisting parents to pass on safe skills, teaches learners to become safer drivers for life. 

So if you’re keen to eliminate your own bad habits and help your child learn to drive in the safest possible way,  book a free Keys2Drive driving lesson  today.

Note 1 -
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