Fathers, teenage driving lessons and the law
Have you ever wondered why parents usually give their children driving lessons at night?
I took my son for his first driving lesson in a deserted housing development. I think I must have said “turn left” as he turned hard right, bumped over the central reservation in the road, then up onto the pavement, carried on driving up the grassy knoll, still gaining speed, over a smallish tree, stopping only when he collided head on with a portable toilet which fell over.
Who is legally responsible? The teenage child, being behind the wheel, probably has to take some responsibility; however unfair this may seem. Also, the parent as supervising driver has a duty to act prudently. For instance, he should pay for a driving instructor and stop being so tight. Also, he should stop watching folksy Disney movies, which encourage him to interact with his teenage children by purporting that it may be fun and a bonding experience rather than extremely stressful, or as in this case, terrifying.
Any parent who finds themselves unwittingly involved in a criminal enterprise with their child, be it, dangerous driving, criminal damage or shoplifting, will be torn between showing the right example and doing a runner. In this case, I righted the portable toilet cabin, adjusted the bowl which had escaped its mountings and accepted that being covered in it, was a natural part of parenting, only the quantity and source changes.
Within days, my son had learnt enough about driving, to correct a few of the bad driving habits that I had spent a lifetime acquiring and with this constant supervision, I must say that my driving has definitely improved. To his credit, he listens to me more, especially when I am crying, screaming and covering my eyes.
Paul Brennan is a business and property lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Both "Deals and disputes".