With the arrival of spring and good weather, there is a phrase that is repeated more frequently in the mouths of many adolescents: “Mom, dad, I want a motorcycle.” Perhaps not so much in big cities as in smaller ones, in towns and in summer towns where having a means of transportation can make all the difference between the kids.
The reality is that it is a possibility that boys and girls have from the age of 15, when they can get the AM card that allows them to drive two, three and four-wheeled mopeds of up to 50 cubic centimeters. And from the age of 16, when they can obtain the A1 permit, which makes it possible to drive vehicles with a maximum displacement of 125 cubic centimeters, a maximum power of 15 cv —horses of steam—.
So much so that, according to AMV, a company specializing in motorcycle insurance, scooters, quads and mopeds, there are currently some 57,000 underage drivers in Spain, mostly boys. “82% of the insured between the ages of 15 and 17 are boys compared to 18% girls. From the age of 18 the figure among them increases to 91% compared to 9% among them”, says Jorge Moreno, commercial director of this company. The fact that this possibility exists and that it is even feasible or a reality among other friends of the children does not diminish the fear and indecision that it can produce due to the dangerous situations that it entails. Indeed, it is a difficult decision to make, for which it is necessary to take into account to what extent the adolescent is capable of doing so.
The psychologist José Antonio Tamayo, from Activa Psicología y Formación, suggests starting with the most basic: asking them. “Parents should allow their child to make the request and share with them the reasons why they want a motorcycle without interrupting them, allowing them to explain themselves freely and trying to convey that they understand these reasons (even if they do not accept or agree with them) without judging, despising or ridiculing them”, proposes Tamayo.
Attenuated risk perception
Teens need to remember that they are not always ready to take on the responsibility of owning and driving a vehicle. “It has been shown that adolescents have an attenuated perception of risk, a consequence of less maturation of the prefrontal cortex, which can make them make more impulsive decisions and not fully anticipate all the consequences of their actions,” says Tamayo.
The fear that one may have of having a motorcycle is more than justified. The commercial director of AMV suggests that, before making the decision, parents consider whether their child really needs a vehicle: “How are their trips? What positive and negative changes would a motorcycle bring to your life? It helps, in these cases in which emotions sometimes overwhelm us, to make a written list of the pros and cons to see things a little clearer”, affirms Moreno.
Another option may be to read books like buy me a motorcycle of Ibón Arbaiza, biker and father. It is, in the words of Arbaiza himself, an awareness-raising tool, both for parents and for the motorcyclist candidate “because it is not only intended for parents, but also for adolescents,” he argues. “Our son must be aware of everything that riding a motorcycle entails, know and identify the continuous risks, what precautions he must take at all times.” With reading like this, according to him, young people will be involved in the decision of whether or not they are prepared to take responsibility for what it means to have a vehicle.
The emotional effort of being a biker father
Obviously, the final decision rests with the parents. “A motorcycle at home involves an important material and economic effort, but also an emotional one. Parents would like to be sure that they are going to use it responsibly, and at these ages when it is normal to go looking for the limits of everything, the total guarantee does not exist. There will always be a risk, and it is crucial that they are aware of it”, adds Arbaiza.
In the event that it is believed that the adolescent is responsible and that he is going to use it appropriately, it is necessary to negotiate and reach agreements. “As in any other transaction, it is relevant that the conditions that each party agrees to comply with are made explicit and agreed upon. Not setting conditions would make it difficult to assume the responsibilities of driving a vehicle on public roads, its care and maintenance, which, in addition, in the event of an infraction, since it is a minor, would have direct repercussions on their legal guardians. Tamayo recommends.
As listed by this expert, these conditions can be driving only during the day, not leaving a certain area or, of course, participating in financial responsibility. For this reason, in addition to Ibón Arbaiza’s book, the project to be responsible bikers is accompanied by a contract in which both parties accept the conditions to access the vehicle and be able to maintain it over time.
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