A British survey recently revealed that a large majority of young people in the UK feel stereotyped by others when they drive. Half of these drivers also feel they are stereotyped by society because of the clothes they wear and the music they listen to.
This has been announced as some sort of revelation.
As a mature adult – and under no circumstances should you discuss that point with my wife – I can attest that all young people are a driving accident waiting to happen. Their clothes are horrible, their attitude questionable, and as for the music – well! What a load of wailing tripe. Hip-hop? I though that was a street game.
Conversely, as a former young person who looked good wearing the fashions of the time, had long hair, listened to rip-roaring music (that I still love), and had a car accident in the first six months of automobile ownership as a result of a need for speed and a gung-ho outlook, I can attest that as mature adults, you just don’t understand!
This sense of being judged that younger drivers seem to nurture is not quite as marked as they believe. In fact older folk, we learn from the survey, seem less likely to stereotype young people. This of course is on account of having been there, done that, and worn the official T-shirt. Only about a quarter of the quivering-jowled, geriatric over-fifties judged ability by age and a majority did not think that hobbies and interests are an indication of the sort of driver a person is.
We know full well that stupidity, fecklessness, and recklessness are found across all ages and know no bounds.
Nickel & Dime
Being stereotyped is something we have to accept as part of growing up and has always been so. Learning to drive, taking the driving test, buying a car, and trying to insure it requires today a considerable financial investment here in this blighted Kingdom.
Surprisingly, most young drivers understand this. Today in Britain many young people eschew the car for this very reason.
Those that do take the plunge into the heady world of car ownership know very well that by taking care, taking it slow, and maybe adding a ‘driving black box,’ they can quickly whittle down the insurance premium whilst gaining experience.
Society is influenced by a rabid media that takes a fully affronted view of youth behavior. Recently, the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported in a ‘shock, horror’ manner that university students had turned a summer ball, in the newspaper’s words, into a ‘drug-fueled orgy.’ They bathed naked in a lake if you can believe such a thing. Some participated in – and I can scarcely bring myself to type this – sex. Thus, by implication, all the kids who attended that ball are now tarred with the same brush. That’s an old saying by the way, not another deviant student practice.
Think back ye oldies – and then cast the first stone if you think you can.
Leave Them Kids Alone
So let’s give those young drivers a break. Yes there are some stupid, brainless, moronic youths out there who drive in a dangerous and anti-social manner but I am willing to bet they are in a small minority. It’s just they get all the attention and, in society’s eyes, there’s no smoke without fire is there? If a few youths drive badly it must follow that all youths drive badly. That might be how insurers and the alarmist wing of the Fourth Estate see it, but it is not how we, as responsible adults, see it.
Society as a whole and adults who see youth as the spawn of evil can gain a lot of insight by engaging with the young rather than criticizing them. Young drivers can only get experience by doing and older drivers should help in that regard.
As I mentioned before, we’ve all been there and done that ourselves.
Geoff Maxted is a motoring writer, photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: @DriveWrite