Driver Education: Why New Drivers Should Take a Defensive Driving Class
May 27, 2009
Though teens receive driver training prior to being licensed and are subject to Graduated Driver Licensing laws to protect them from statistically high-risk driving situations, training shouldn’t end when teens get their licenses. Reasons for this include:
1. Newly licensed teenage drivers are often giddy with newly acquired freedom. They will assimilate more information once they have become accustomed to the increased level of independence they’ve earned.
2. Teens may pick up bad driving habits, such as carelessness and recklessness, from riding with other teens.
3. Teens who received defensive driving lessons prior to gaining driving experience often have difficulty applying those lessons until they are licensed.
4. New drivers often suffer from information overload; spreading driver training lessons out over time means they will retain more in the long run.
5. Though drivers are statistically less likely to be injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes as they leave their teens, the overall risk remains high throughout the teenage years when compared to other age groups.
Taking a defensive driving course six to twelve months after licensure is very helpful for new drivers. Teens can take the course online or in a classroom. Typical topics include:
- Crash statistics and the physics of vehicle crashes
- Crash prevention techniques
- Occupant protection devices (such as seat belts and airbags)
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- How to share the road with large trucks, motorcyclists, and pedestrians
- Dealing with stress and drowsiness while driving
- The hazards of speeding
- An overview of traffic laws in your state
When teens take a defensive driving class, they have the opportunity to apply concepts that may have seemed abstract prior to licensure. For example, crash prevention techniques are easier to appreciate once the driver has experience in maneuvering a vehicle; unlicensed teens are unlikely to understand how much stress and sleepiness negatively impact their driving abilities. However, as newly licensed drivers, teens haven’t been driving long enough to have ingrained driving habits, so they still have an opportunity to eliminate unsafe practices and become safe drivers.