Last updated on July 31, 2019 at 11:00 am
Last month we discussed 3 crucial driving skills that are vitally important to safe driving, yet are inexplicably absent from the driving test.
The truth is that passing the driving test is just the beginning of learning to drive. The trouble is most parents and new drivers see it as the end of the process.
Getting a driver’s license should be considered a “license to learn to drive,” — like on-the-job training. Continuous training is essential to remaining safe behind the wheel.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by world-class race car driver and teen driving advocate, Andy Pilgrim. He shared some eye-opening statistics.
Andy begins with Germany, a country of about 81 million. The Germans average 3,400 road fatalities and 400,000 injuries per year. The U.K, with a population of about 65 million, has 1,700 fatalities and 200,000 injuries per year.
By comparison, the U.S., a country of about 320 million, has over 32,000 fatalities and over 2.5 million injuries. Andy points out that if U.S drivers were nearly as proficient as drivers in the U.K. or Germany, we would have “only” about 10,000 fatalities and 1 million injuries — roughly 1/3 of the actual numbers!
Why the huge disparity? According to Andy, it’s a fundamental problem.
The driving test in America is much too easy! If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you already know that I agree – wholeheartedly. But the problem goes much deeper than the driving test. It begins with the way new drivers are trained.
New drivers are trained to start the vehicle, turn, maneuver and even how to park. As I’ve said before, these are important skills, but these physical skills only account for 10% of the unacceptably high crash rate among new drivers (and in fact, drivers of all ages).
What should we be teaching new drivers? In my opinion, all driver training should begin with the six keys to safe driving – or S.S.S.A.D.T.:
Speed Management – Excessive speed is still the #1 cause of crashes
Space Management – a 2-3 second following distance on dry pavement; 4-6 seconds when wet.
Scan Your Mirrors – every 3-5 seconds
Attitude – Patience is a virtue / Road Rage is a losing proposition
Danger Zone Recognition – Scan the road – 100 yards ahead
(Watch out for) The Other Guy – Be vigilant and ready for anything. A good habit to develop is to “anticipate stupidity.” This helps to keep you calm (when the inevitable happens, it just meets your expectations) and focused when you drive.
Training our young drivers in these six areas will make them safer now and form a solid foundation of safe driving habits that will carry over into adulthood. Imagine — an entire generation of safe, well-trained, drivers! It is possible.
Coming in October: “Safe Driving Habits–Not a Pledge– Will Bring Your Teenager Home Safely”
Stay Safe Out There!
Plymouth Rock Assurance in New Jersey is proud to feature blog posts by Bob Ragazzo, a certified Defensive Driving Instructor, founder of Save Your Teen Driver LLC, as well as an Adult Driver Training company, Collision Avoidance Technology & Training LLC, and a nonprofit educational resource for parents and teens: The Parents’ Coalition to Stop Teen Driving Deaths NOW! Most importantly, he is the father of two young drivers, Nick and Patrick. Bob trains thousands of drivers each year, both experienced and inexperienced. He has authored dozens of articles on driver training and several eBooks, including: “7 Things That Every Parent Must Teach Their Young Driver.” He has been featured on Network News shows from Florida to California, and is a regular guest Driving Expert on radio stations all over the U.S. and Canada.