Gear up to be a good role model for future drivers

Building on the success of last year’s ground-breaking campaign, the Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland want to encourage drivers to set a positive example to Scotland’s future drivers.

Research shows childrens future driving behaviours are greatly influenced by the behaviour of their parents and carers. Picture: Craig Stephen

The Kids in the Car campaign draws on Early Years and Road Safety research, which demonstrate that children’s future driving behaviours are greatly influenced from a very young age by the behaviour of their parents and carers. For this reason, the Kids in the Car road safety campaign was developed.

Children are always learning from their parents, whether inside or outside of the car. Children not only soak up what is going on in their world, but also try to make sense of it to develop their own behaviour. What they learn as a child will inform their future actions and social interactions.

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Research from around the world has demonstrated a link between parents’ driving behaviour and that of their children when they start to drive. From early in a child’s life, parents act as driving role models.

One way of changing young people’s driving attitudes and behaviours (now and when they become drivers themselves) is to encourage parents to adopt safe and courteous attitudes and behaviours when driving.

Parents aim to be positive role models for their children every day, so why should driving be any different? Drivers are made, not born, and the research clearly shows that children pick up on behaviours in the car from a much earlier age than most parents think.

Parents can protect themselves and their child passengers by adopting basic safety-related behaviours that will improve safety now, and for future generations. Adopting simple behaviours now, like always wearing your seatbelt, reducing your speed and being courteous to other road users, could have a lasting legacy. l Dr Neale Kinnear is the principal psychologist in the study of human behaviour and transport at the Transport Research Laboratory.

Kids in the Car is the first campaign to raise awareness of the influence of parents’ behaviour on their child’s own future driving behaviour.

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