Waking Teens to the Positives of Driving Safe
August 27, 2007
The state of Georgia is taking a novel approach to promoting teen driving safety. At their Georgia National Fair, a special contest is taking place to challenge teens on the ins and outs of driving safety. There is a written test about drunk driving as well as a series of simulated driving tests. The ultimate winner will drive home in a new VW bug.
The Houston Country District Attorney’s office in Georgia has had booths about safe teen driving set up in the past with informative literature that was passed out to teen drivers. However, many people were quite sure that those teens never really read the information. With a collaboration of several entities including insurance giant GEICO, the contest concept to promote teen safety was born.
Some might say that the grand prize of a car is a kind of bribe and that once the contest is over, teens will just forget what they have learned in the contest. However, others feel that because teens live in the moment, they don’t really look ahead to what “might” be. They are not going to think about driving safety and how it can impact their future. However, by participating in the contest and going through various levels of simulated driving tests, it could be quite an eye opener for many self-absorbed teens.
It is often said that talking with teens you can expect 10% of the message to be retained. However, the hands-on approach is a lot more effective and the retention rate of the message could be as high as 90% or more. Granted, the whole driving age teen population of Georgia won’t participate in the contest, however, even the mention of the contest and what it is about may at the very least make teens more cognizant of their surrounding when behind the wheel.
Teens aged 15 to 18 with a learner’s permit or a driver’s license can participate in the contest hosted at the Georgia National Fair. The whole contest takes several days and each day teens are eliminated or passed on through depending on their performances on the simulated driving tests. If anything, the attention is likely to grow with each day of the fair and the hope is that more and more teens will visit the safe driving booth, even if they are not participating.
Again, some people feel that the prize of a car is a bribe for teens. However, when it comes to preserving teen lives on the road, any type of incentive within reason should be used. So if a car will lower teen driving fatalities, who is to say that it is wrong?
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Parent-Teen Involvement Essential to the Drive Rite Keys to Smart Driving Program
August 23, 2007
There is a program in the Indianapolis area called the Drive Rite Keys to Smart Driving and it is being offered through the county sheriff’s office. This program is unique as it is a requirement for parents to monitor this course with their teenagers. What a novel idea – having parents take charge of their children’s driving! Instead of hoping that your teenager has gotten enough information through required driver’s education courses, this course is more comprehensive and takes six months to complete.
During the six-month course, teens learn responsible driving behavior, traffic safety, how to drive defensively, and how to handle an accident. Both parents and teens have to attend together and are taken through real world experiences as well as interactive lessons. Many parents feel that the course greatly enhances the regular curriculum they have studied through driver’s education.
The Drive Rite course also makes teenagers responsible for on-line assignments as well a driver’s logbook to write down all of their experiences while on the road. In addition, parents are required to monitor additional training outside the classroom behind the wheel of a car. With both parent and teen participation in this course, there should be no gray areas of understanding what a responsible driver really means. In fact, parents may get a few eye-openers as well. It never hurts to remind seasoned drivers of some of the safety rules because we all know that we can also be rather lax in driving habits!
The driving course is coordinated through Purdue University and while intense, only meets once a month for the six months. While the purpose of this class is to educate, it also does so much more. It gets both the parents and the teens talking to each other and relating how the other feels about driving, road responsibility and more. Even if either party doesn’t learn anything else, the Drive Rite class gets the parents and teens communicating which is sometimes half the battle.
The goal of the course is to help prevent teen deaths due to car accidents. Will this program work? Chances are that it will… at least for a while. With teens, those good habits have to be instilled early in order for them to stick whether they have others to distract them or not. Hopefully, with both the parents and the teens working together, the commitment to drive safely will stick far beyond the classroom walls.
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Behind the Wheel with the Tire Rack Street Survival Class
August 20, 2007
It seems that every state in the country is adopting or introducing new extracurricular driver’s education classes for teens. The death toll for teenage drivers is rather high across the country so classes such as the Tire Rack Street Survival are created to address the issue. Do these classes work or are they just another way for some company to make some money? How effective are these classes really?
While many classes like the Tire Rack Street Survival definitely educate young drivers, it is only through constant parental involvement that significant strides can be made in reducing the teenage driver death toll. Of course, these classes may work if more parents made their teens take them! Without the requirement of mandatory classes, not many teens are going to say, on their own, “oh I cannot drive as well as I should, maybe I should take a driver’s education safety class.” The only way that these classes will make a huge impact on dropping the teenage death tool is mandatory extracurricular driving classes like the Tire Rack Street Survival.
The Tire Rack class does more than just get parents a discount on their liability insurance. This class also teaches by example – behind the wheel of a car as well as the classroom. The material that is covered is real hands-on and you get to experience real world driving situations behind the wheel of your own car. It’s a great way to prepare teenagers about accidents and how to easily avoid them. Plus there is no need to adapt to a strange car either. Other advanced driving schools use simulated demonstrations or even a company car equipped to produce certain driving situations.
This class shows teenage drivers in real world time the consequences of their actions behind the wheel. They learn that every action, no matter how small, creates another action and so forth. So teens learn that split second they took to turn on the radio could be all that stands between them and a tombstone. These lessons that are learned should be ones that every teenager with a driver’s permit should have to receive. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all. Therein lies the problem.
In too many states, driver’s education has to be taken as an extra-curricular activity. So many times, teens do not even take a class and instead just study for and pass the written portion of the exam. Sure, their driving is evaluated but it is usually in a controlled setting. However, if mandatory classes were modeled after the Tire Rack Street Survival course or others, the overall fate of teenage drivers would be more optimistic.
Teen Driving Privileges Linked to School Attendance
July 31, 2007
There’s a new state law in Illinois that is supposed to crack down on teen driving privileges. The gist of it all is basically that teens that are truant in school and cut classes or are expelled could have their driving permits suspended until they turn 18. Apparently, lawmakers want to provide incentive for kids to stay in school.
There is some debate as to whether this new law will work or not. Various versions of this law have been passed in other states but the verdict is still out as to how well it is working. Eighteen unexcused absences, expulsion or dropping out are three ways that teenagers can lose their driving permits in Illinois.
Skeptics wonder how much of an impact this can have on teenagers. If they are aware of this new law long before they are eligible for driving, perhaps it will make some impression on those new teens that are starving for a little independence that driving can bring. However, exactly how is this new law going to be relayed to the teenagers that could be affected by it now?
Are schools going to go out of their way to broadcast this change? Chances are they will claim that they do not have adequate resources. Plus, teenagers have to do something drastic in order to have their driving permits revoked. By the time cutting classes or expulsion are caught, it is almost too late to do anything about it anyway. And 18 unexcused absences are quite excessive. Wouldn’t it be more effective if the requirement were half that?
The bottom line is while the law has good intentions, the problems lies in reinforcing it. Schools are overextended already. How is that information about unexcused absences, truancy and expulsion going to be relayed to the powers that be? Who is planning to do all the following up? It could literally take several years before the law really catches on and the truancy problems start to decline.
In the meantime, you have teens who would likely continue to drive even with truancy problems at school. Their misdeeds could literally take months to catch up with them in the form of a revoked driving permit. And for some, they could age out before they reap any consequences. That is not much of a slap on the wrist is it? This new law is a bit hazy still on how everything is supposed to play out. It will just have to be a wait and see game.
Driving Simulation Course a Great Tool for Better Driving
July 24, 2007
There’s a new course called Tragedy Prevention whose sole goal is to educate drivers about the dangers of the road in the hopes that accidents could be prevented. This is an excellent tool for not just reckless adult drivers who need driver’s education training, but also for new teenage drivers who need to be acclimated to the ways for the road.
Book learning in driver’s education can only take teens so far. Practical experience driving the roads definitely helps but they also need to experience potential dangerous situations so that they can anticipate their next moves and possible avoid a fatal accident. This Tragedy Prevention course is definitely a step in the right direction.
While this course is geared toward reckless drivers who may have had privileges suspended, there is also a special WHEELS program geared just for teens that is filling the driver’s education need since so many high schools are no longer offering the courses. What is so great is that teenagers are put through the paces in a simulator with different situations such as a tire blowout, driving at night or even dangerous weather conditions.
Typically, a teenager will not usually experience this in a real life training situation. However, at some point in their young life, these situations may happen. And without the proper guidance and anticipation of a solution, these teens could die in an accident. The purpose of Tragedy Prevention is to ensure that these teens understand the different dangers on the road and that sometimes, they themselves are the problem.
This training class shows teens through various simulations exactly what happens if they become distracted by cell phone texting or even if they drive under the influence. For many teens, it is quite an eye opener to be faced with their potential of mortality. And while most have admitted to driving and texting or drinking, many vow after the class that they will not do it again. That is great news for the teen participants of the class.
With some money and luck, perhaps other areas of the country will offer similar programs. Only with ready access in each and every state can this class work for teens. So, if you do not have any program such as Tragedy Prevention in your area, look and see what you can do to try and bring it to your area. Talk with legislators at the local and state levels and see what you all can do to pitch in together to keep our teens safe and educated about the hazards of the road.