Do as I say, not as I drive

Kids learn by example, as scary as that might be   

Roads Report Article December 05, 2016
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David Matthews

Burning up the road

They say that nothing has a greater influence on a child than a parent. If that is true, then as motorists we are all in deep trouble.

 

Take the Australian father who believes that getting kids interested in cars at an early age can keep them out of trouble later on.

 

Alex Dobson believes in this principle so strongly, he allows his son to perform burnouts in the driveway. Alone in the family car, the young man floors the accelerator while pressing the brake pedal, causing the tires to spin and smoke from the friction.

 

Did we mention that Dobson’s son is only 5 years old?

 

That’s OK with Dobson, who even posted a video of his son’s driving stunt on Facebook, captioned, “When your 5 year old says . . . Dad, can I do a burnout? Sure son, no worries . . . ”

 

Dobson’s post also helps explain why he is so eager to get his young child hooked on driving: “Remember a car addiction stops a drug addiction.”

 

The video has now been viewed well over 2 million times and the response is mixed, with many people (who must be in favor of adolescent drug abuse) commenting that Dobson should be reported to the authorities for endangering his child. And it did not take long for that very thing to happen.

 

Queensland Police seized Dobson’s car and are investigating if they can charge him since the incident took place on private property.

 

Roll models

Even when parents aren’t deliberately trying to influence their child’s attitude toward driving, they are.

 

A recent survey by AAA found that parents shape their children’s driving habits by the example they set—good or bad.

 

The research found that teen drivers have fewer traffic violations and accidents if their parents drive carefully and set stricter limits on their driving.

 

On the other hand, teens who grow up riding with parents who are routinely distracted, speeding or driving with tunnel vision are much more likely to adopt those same dangerous habits in their own driving.

 

Often the issue is that parents unknowingly model bad driving. A Ford survey found that 95% of parents believe they are very safe drivers, but in a startling gap in perception, 80% of tweens and teens say they observe their parents engaging in risky driving. From there it’s a slippery slope straight to driveway burnouts. 

 

Mixed-up joyride

The parents of an 11-year-old boy in Minnesota may want to rethink what they have been teaching their son about safe driving after he stole a cement mixer.

 

The boy took off with the vehicle on a recent Sunday afternoon after a contractor left the keys in the truck.

 

He was first spotted on a nearby highway by a state trooper who pulled him over for speeding. The boy initially stopped, but then decided he had better plans and took off for his hometown of Dodge Center, hitting a police cruiser in the process.

 

The boy had the time of his life joyriding the mixer back and forth through town, hooting and laughing the whole time. So many residents came out to watch from their lawns and driveways; one observer compared the scene to a parade.

 

With police hot on his tail, the boy then drove 5 miles to the city of Kasson, where he raced over gravel roads at 70 mph and smashed another police car. Next he headed for a tour of nearby Byron before finally heading back to Dodge Center.

 

Police were waiting for him with a stop stick on the road to puncture the cement truck’s tires, but even after the front-right tire started smoking and fell off, the boy just continued driving on the rim.

 

Followed by helicopters and police cars, the determined child continued navigating through residential streets for more than an hour before getting trapped in a cul-de-sac and trying to flee on foot. He was caught and arrested, then taken to a juvenile detention center.

 

Unbelievably, no one was injured. Several miles of streets, however, suffered extensive damage from the heavy truck’s rim, and the truck itself did not fare too well, either.

 

So parents, keep these stories in mind the next time you are behind the wheel with your child. They may not realize it, and they will certainly roll their eyes at it, but what our kids really need from us is a good example, not just an air bag.

 

About the author: 
Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.
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