THE BLOG

Parents Need to Become Better 'Road Models'

10/11/2014 14:34 GMT | Updated 10/01/2015 10:59 GMT

With four children I drive somewhere almost every day, whether it's ferrying them from one friend's house to another, or making sure they get to school on time. And if I'm honest, just like half of other parents I never thought I could be passing my bad habits behind the wheel on to my children!

However, as you can see from the video I've made with the Goodyear Driving Academy (http://youtu.be/jKhu3hG0lEo) I was wrong. I'm not a terrible driver, and I'm not a dangerous driver, but I'd never really thought about whether my skills were up to scratch until Goodyear approached me about putting my driving to the test!

If this experience has taught me one thing, it's the fact that I'm a much more important role model in the car for my children than I ever realised and anything I do wrong behind the wheel will affect their behaviour once they reach driving age.

Everyone picks up bad habits in life as well as driving, it's inevitable, but when you have children it's important to make sure you're not making glaring mistakes on a regular basis. I suppose that what many people need to realise is that if for instance your child grows up watching you on your phone in the car then they'll believe that it is safe behaviour. With texting at the wheel killing over 3,000 teenagers a year, a figure that is incidentally higher than those killed by drink driving, I don't know any parent who wants their children picking up this particular bad habit. I know I certainly don't and now I keep my phone in the back of the car to avoid the distraction.

Since my refresher lesson with Mike from the Driving Instructors Association, I realised that I haven't paid enough attention to what is happening around me whilst I drive. As a music lover and presenter, I think I've always been a little too preoccupied with what's going on on the radio and not what's going on on the ROAD! But now, I'm much more aware and attentive, and I've learnt to deal with the kids in the car much more effectively. I know that this will have a lasting effect when they get behind the wheel.

Personally, I think that no matter what, any parent is going to be worried when their child finally turns 17 and gets behind the wheel of a car. But the better your driving is, the more faith you'll have in their common sense on the road.

Of course, there are always going to be other elements that contribute to your fears. When India was old enough to drive I was confident that she'd be responsible, but with Jude for some reason I find it a more frightening prospect.

It's because of this fear that I'm going to be sending Jude on a Young Driver lesson to get him started. Fingers crossed that following this, I won't panic quite so much when the time does finally come for me to watch him pull out of the drive.

I know that many people teach their children to drive, but having opened my eyes to my own bad habits, I'm more than happy to leave this to someone who really knows what they're doing.

This doesn't mean that you need to take a back seat completely though, and there are so many ways that you can teach your children from an early age, whether this is pointing out road signs so they understand speed limits, teaching them about the gear box or even showing them the ropes when it comes to road etiquette.

As parents, we are and always will be role models; we just have to be the right kind.

For more information about the Goodyear Driving Academy and some fun and interactive tools to help your children get the best education in road safety then go to http://www.parents-matter.co.uk