The Adolescent Male Disadvantage

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If you’re male, aged between 16 and 25 years, and think you can handle a car, think again.Driving and car handling are parsecs distant from each other as concepts. Car handling is what you can see on the race track. A highly technical, purpose built machine in the hands of a highly skilled and experienced race driver who knows precisely what the machine’s limits are, and what it will and won’t do under given circumstances.

Driving is what you do on public roads, in close company with hundreds of other drivers, who you’ve never met, never will meet, have no knowledge about their driving skill levels and haven’t a clue about their car’s road-worthiness for the conditions you’re all driving under. On the race track, all of the machines are very, very similar and built to exacting safety standards. The drivers all know each other, race together regularly and understand pretty much what their opponents will and won’t do in certain situations. Don’t ever confuse the two concepts because neither one holds any…..that’s ANY….. relationship to the other. If there is any similarity at all, it’s that both driving on a race track and driving on public roads are both dangerous undertakings. The machine you pilot is a weapon if used incorrectly. It can and will kill you and other people if you allow it to.

The Adolescent Male Disadvantage?? A hormone we all know as Testosterone. Testosterone in the young male increases the urge to take greater risks, even to the point of not considering the risk potential of any action before taking that action. This study proves interesting reading on the issue. Young men don’t think as clearly as young women in the same circumstances. Young men are more prone – in a driving sense – to speeding, overtaking, wanting to stay ahead of other drivers, travel too close to the vehicle in front of them and generally aggressive behaviour. When you, as a young male, turn 16, you want to get out there on the roads and learn to drive. You WANT that license. It’s a rite of passage, a sign that you’ve reached a milestone in your life. To many young men, it’s also an extension of their sexual prowess to drive fast cars and impress young women. Strangely – or perhaps not all that strangely – young women in my experience are NOT impressed by fools in fast cars doing donuts and drifts on public roads. Young women know the danger. Many of my female students tell me about their boyfriends, their behaviour and their disdain for that behaviour. As a driver trainer, I’m always pleased to listen to these tales, and concerned at the same time for the young men being spoken about. Having been a young man, and having had my own near death experience in a car, I know the dangers, but getting that message through to my young male students is near impossible, due purely to the effects of Testosterone. As young men, it makes us all believe that we’re ten foot tall and entirely bullet-proof. Bad stuff only happens to other idiots, never to us, because, hey…..we can drive!!

Have a look at this vision from the 18th February, on the Melton Highway at Taylors Lakes, Victoria. The 18 year old at the wheel of the 5.0 litre HSV Calais involved in the incident obviously believed he was bullet-proof…..right up until he lost control of his speeding weapon.

The family’s claim that the road itself is to blame is quite frankly wrong. If the young man had been driving to the road conditions at the time, which he clearly was not, then he would have remained safe and alive. As an aside, P-Plate drivers across Australia are forbidden to drive high-powered V8 engined vehicles such as this one. Why this young man flouted those rules can only be sheeted back to testosterone. Big, powerful car; big, powerful ego. This is a horrific way to die, and worse, he could quite easily have taken someone else with him. In my daily grind I come across young men who simply travel too quickly. I cajole, I admonish, I even plead with them to slow down but few ever will, purely because of the stage of life they are going through. A close brush with Death seems to be the only way young men learn. When presented with one’s mortality, in a violent, frightening manner, does over-ride the urges from Testosterone but it’s one hell of a hard way t learn.

If you’re male, aged between 16 & 25 and learning to drive or have a license already, for the sake of your own life and that of others around you, slow down, drive as you were taught to drive with due care and attention. The girls will love you all the more for it, believe me.



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