Who is to Blame?
Yesterday, on my way home I came across a group of teenagers two up on three petrol scooters. As they came towards us they decided to turn causing us to stop and wait. They seemed oblivious to the potential near miss they had been involved in. Off they went down the middle of the road, weaving left and right with not a care in the world.
As we followed them from a safe distance, just letting them get on with whatever they were going to do next, we were met by a male in his late 20’s/early 30’s riding a child’s off road motorbike. As he turned off road he came to a stop and waved to the lads on the scooters. As two of the scooters performed a U turn to meet up with the off road motorbike, an oncoming vehicle they were oblivious to had to stop. The third scooter had continued on its way and turned left. But not to worry as we went on our way we could see they were also busy further down doing a U turn in the middle of the road despite the rest of the traffic.
Now forgetting any issue of no license or insurance. Who is to blame for this?
The man riding the child’s off road bike on the road and the teenagers are all responsible for their own actions and the decisions they make. Some may argue they are only having a bit of fun. Others may argue they should be prosecuted. I was thankful they had not been hit by other roads users.
I presume the petrol scooters were Christmas presents. This begs the question as to where the parents thought their children would be riding them. Locally there is no where to legally ride petrol scooters. Even riding up and down a path, whether legal or not, would be dangerous given the high speed of these scooters.
So my point is that the parents know their children have these petrol scooters and it must therefore be within their contemplation that their children, along with their friends, will be riding them. The parents appear to have made a conscious decision to close their minds to the potential risk. What if their children are knocked over? A very real possibility given the 3-4 near misses I witnessed in under one minute. Who would be to blame? The other road user? The lads themselves. The parents who allowed their children to use the petrol scooters?
Road safety education has to start at home. The example our parents, careers and other significant people set us influences our later actions. When people lead by in action can we really be surprised when we see teenagers riding petrol scooters down the middle of the road oblivious to the danger they are in and the risk they pose to other road users?
Road safety has a long way to go to reduce the needles loss of life on our roads. However, the Police are not to blame because they do a very good job with the resources and competing demands they have. The various road safety organisations also do a great job. However, parents and those who influence us could do better. If parents genuinely do not understand the risks posed by such behaviour then we need to rethink how we can reach them and get the road safety message across before something happens.
So how do we engage with parents and their children? People who attend road safety events already want to get involved or are open to engagement.
The real challenge is how do we engage with harder to reach communities or social groups?