If you’re the parent of a teenager, you know how smart your teen is. You also know how smart your teen thinks he or she is. Of course there’s a significant gap between the two on occasion.
Lack of life experience makes it tough for teenagers to get an accurate grasp on what they actually know versus what they think they know.
When it comes to safety behind the wheel, most teens are pretty confident they know what they’re doing—and that they are good drivers. They're almost always wrong of course, but it isn't entirely their fault. (Nor is it the fault of the "experienced" unsafe drivers among us, for that matter.)
When I speak to groups or teach a defensive driving course, it never ceases to amaze me that more than 95% of drivers are totally unprepared and totally under-trained. Driving is the most dangerous thing we do and most of us do it every day, yet only about 1% of drivers actually put any effort into improving their driving skills!
The reality is that most crash victims are simply the unwitting casualties of a broken training system. If we want to stop losing 35,000 to 40,000 drivers per year (3,000 of which are 15 to 20 years old), we can do it easily, but only if we commit to more effective driver training.
Of course there is one thing you can do to protect your young driver today—convince them to put the phone away when they're driving!
What? Your kid swears that they don't text or use the phone when driving? Please read on and be enlightened.
According to www.distraction.gov, the average teenager sends 2,500 texts per month. That's like a part-time job! Do you actually think this stops just because they're driving?
In fact, 97% of teen drivers surveyed said they thought texting while driving is dangerous—while 43% of them admitted to doing it anyway. (See the AT&T survey.)
For teens, that’s just “normal” behavior. After all, if half of their friends do it (and you know there are more who don’t admit it), why shouldn’t they?
Just because your teen can parrot back to you all the rules about safe driving (or agrees to sign a "pledge") doesn’t mean that he or she is practicing safe driving habits.
We as parents must be proactive and make sure our teens are mentally prepared to drive defensively. That means helping teens go beyond just knowing what to do and training them to respond properly so that it’s instinctive.
That’s why I founded SaveYourTeenDriver.com. We help parents and teens evaluate their actual driving behavior and then train them on how to protect themselves on the road, so that safe driving becomes second nature.
I invite you to download our free e-book on what parents need to pass onto their teens before turning over the car keys. Or have your young driver take the course. The first step is a 200minute evaluation that will tell you whether your teenager is a high-, medium- or low-risk driver.
Get your teen’s knowledge out of his or her head and put it behind the wheel!
We hear about people being involved in car accidents every day. But that can be a bit misleading. Sure, “accidents” happen. There are sometimes unavoidable and unintended incidents that occur. In the corporate fleet world, these are referred to as “non-preventables” and they amount to 10 percent or less of the “accident” total. On the other hand, 90 percent or more of these are “preventables,” which means they’re caused by one thing: operator error.
Why make a big deal out of this? It’s easy to dismiss an “automobile accident” as something that’s not avoidable. (“Stuff happens” right?) That is a dangerous and potentially deadly mindset. There’s a huge difference between the “oops!” of your teenager spilling a glass of milk and the crash of a vehicle that can cause thousands of dollars in damage—or even cost a life. Car crashes kill more kids between the ages of 15 and 20 than anything else. It’s estimated that more than 3,000 teenagers die in car crashes every year. But even that’s not the whole story. Teens in this age group are involved in more than 750,000 car crashes each year—with approximately 50 percent of them resulting in injuries.
That’s not an “Oops!” It’s a serious problem.
A big part of the problem is that teenage drivers aren’t adequately prepared to avoid the things that lead to so many of these crashes. And the reason they aren’t prepared is because driver’s education focuses on the physical aspects of driving a car. They know how to signal, shift, fasten seatbelts, set the cruise control and so forth. They know how to accelerate and brake. They can get from point A to point B. But that doesn’t mean they’re safe.
So much of safe driving for your teen depends on him or her having the right attitude when behind the wheel—and on being mentally prepared to deal with dangers and distractions. Far too many teen crashes are caused by distracted driving—and too few driver education programs for teens focus on eliminating distractions.
Is your teen a distracted driver? Does your teen have the kind of mental preparedness necessary to avoid serious crashes? Have you taken the steps you need to take to ensure your teen’s safety? Teen driving safety is no accident. It’s the result of proper evaluation and training. If you’re serious about your teen’s driving safety, I urge you to start by downloading the free e-book, “Save Your Teen Driver, A Guide to Surviving the Teenage Driving Years.”
Accidents may “happen,” in 1 out of 10 cases, but if we train our young drivers the right way we can eliminate the other 9. How much better will we, as parents, sleep at night when we accomplish this?
Last time we learned about the hidden danger of intersections. And today we’re discussing how to effectively navigate these extremely dangerous traffic hot spots.
Each year more than 10% of the annual 2 million intersection crashes occur because a driver ran a red light. Statistically, it’s inevitable—at some point, someone will run a red light or stop sign while you’re driving through an intersection. So being prepared for it makes perfect sense, right?
As a defensive driving instructor, I teach two potentially life-saving techniques to all my students:
Technique No. 1 – The Rule of Thirds
When you’re approaching an intersection, develop a habit to take notice of how long the light has been green. If the light has been green for about a minute, it’s what we call a ‘stale green.’ That means it could turn on you at any moment. Here’s a great technique for dealing with these.
- 1/3 – Accelerate (or decelerate) to a safe and legal speed
- 1/3 – Maintain speed. If making a turn at the intersection, get into the proper lane.
- 1/3 – Cover the brake with your right foot. Scan left, right, ahead and left again—curb to curb. Remember, you’re not only looking for other vehicles—5 out of 10 pedestrian injuries occur at intersections.
Rule of thumb: If the light turns yellow—don’t enter the intersection!
Technique No. 2 – The Delayed Acceleration Technique (aka the 3-Second Rule)
Whether you are the first vehicle stopped at an intersection or behind other vehicles, you can use this technique to ensure that the intersection is clear before entering it.
- When stopping at an intersection, never break the plane! Always stop at the painted stop line or short of the crosswalk.
- When the light turns green, count 1001-1002-1003 while scanning the intersection, as I described above.
Don’t enter the intersection until you’ve determined that it’s clear. The whole process is quick, but it could help you avoid a collision one day, or at least mean the difference between a fender bender and a T-bone.
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you can start to pick up a pattern here. Driving is a lot more scientific than it looks. Less than 1 in 100 drivers have been trained to drive properly. Is it any wonder that we lose an average of 10 young drivers and 90 “experienced drivers” per day?
As parents we need to teach our teen drivers to drive mentally. To learn more about how to make sure you and your teen are driving as safely as possible, download our free e-book. It’s a great place to start.
When parents think about the dangers facing our teen drivers, our first concerns are centered on things such as piling in (too many kids in the car), TWD (texting while driving) and of course, drinking while driving. Those risky activities present real and significant dangers, but there is one deadly traffic hotspot that parents and their teen drivers often overlook: the traffic intersection.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, approximately 40 percent of all collisions (more than 2 million per year) occur at or near intersections. Each year, more than 6,500 people die in intersection collisions, and it isn’t only drivers and their passengers who are at risk. Approximately five out of 10 pedestrian traffic injuries occur at intersections as well.
What causes this problem?
According to the National Safety Council, the majority of intersection collisions can be attributed to the following driver errors:
- Failing to scan intersections properly on approach
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Signaling improperly
- Misjudging the speed and distance of other vehicles
- Turning improperly
- Driving aggressively, including speeding and running red lights
Of the 2 million-plus intersection crashes that occur each year, more than 200,000 (on average) are the result of drivers running red lights.
This number really jumps off the page. There is an old, often-repeated story about kids describing what the colors in a traffic light mean—after riding in the car with their parents. Red, they say, means stop. Green means go. And yellow, means ‘floor it’ to get through the intersection before the light turns red. Most people laugh at that story, but when you look at the statistics, it becomes obvious that far too many drivers actually engage in this risky practice.
These statistics highlight the need for teens to exercise extreme caution when driving through intersections. The ability to survive the dangers of traffic intersections comes down to giving our teens more than simple “safe-driving talks” or having them sign “pledges.”
You cannot “talk” or “pledge” bad habits away! Driving is instinctive. Even the best intentions are lost in the heat of the moment. It requires a higher level of training in order to establish long-term safe driving habits.
First, remember to teach your teen to Drive Mentally™ and remind them of the ‘A’ in my 5-step A.L.I.V.E. formula. Always assume that every other driver is either drunk or stupid. That way your teen will be prepared for whatever comes his or her way when behind the wheel.
Then, watch for our upcoming blog post entitled Internet Solutions, which outlines the two crucial techniques you can start using right away to keep you and your young driver(s) safe when navigating traffic intersections.
In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about how you can prepare and protect your childr, I invite you to download our free e-book, Save Your Teen Driver, A Guide to Surviving the Teenage Driving Years.
If you’re concerned about the safety of your driving teenager, you know that every day needs to be a “safe driving” day. Your teen driver needs to be mentally prepared and alert at all times.
As parents, we need to consistently condition our young drivers (and ourselves) that driving is not a spectator sport.
That being said, not all days of the year are created equal when it comes to driving safety. You’ve probably noticed that there are some days when there’s an increased police presence in town and on the highway. There’s a good reason for that. When it comes to driving fatalities, some days are simply deadlier than others.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released some information about the deadliest days of the year to be on the road. It’s information that parents of teen drivers (and, of course, teens themselves) should take to heart.
The NHTSA reports that the most dangerous day of the year when it comes to driving, is July 4. In fact, July 2, 3 and 4 is the deadliest three-day stretch of the year.
It’s not particularly surprising. People are in a partying mood. They’re focused on fun and celebration. They’re enjoying the warm summer weather. They’re thinking about barbeques and getting together with friends. In short: they’re distracted and not thinking about driving. Of course, when you add alcohol to the mix, it can be a deadly combination.
Actual statistics show that we lose an average of 161 people on our nation’s roadways on July 4, making it the deadliest holiday.
Of course Independence Day isn’t the only dangerous day for driving. Here is NHTSA’s list of the top 10 deadliest days to drive:
- July 4
- July 3
- December 23
- August 3
- January 1
- August 6
- August 4
- August 12
- July 2
- September 2
If you have a teenage driver, it’s imperative that you make him or her aware of the extra danger on these dates. Of course they need to be vigilant at all times, but on these days in particular they need to be even more aware—not only of their own driving, but of the drivers around them.
One of our best training techniques we use is to teach kids to ASSUME STUPIDITY! If they assume that everyone else on the road is either stupid or drunk—as many drivers are each day, not just on holidays—they remain alert and prepared for anything that happens.
Summertime is the BEST! It’s the time for sun and fun. Unfortunately, one of the happiest times of year turns tragic for thousands of families.
With the crazy weather much of the country has had this spring, we’re really ready for summer. Or are we?
While summertime is a time to kick back and relax, one thing that we can’t afford to relax is the safe driving rules. According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting Service (FARS) we will lose 1,000 teenagers this summer in car crashes. Thousands more will be injured, many of them permanently. For teenage drivers and their passengers—summer is the deadliest driving season.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that two of the five deadliest months for fatal auto accidents fall in the summer months (August and July). Here’s the whole list:
And if that’s not enough to get your attention, seven of the 10 most dangerous days in the whole year (when it comes to traffic fatalities) come during the summer months as well. Watch for the full list of the 10 Deadliest Days on our roadways in next week’s post.
So much for “taking it easy!” Teen drivers—and their parents—need to be on the alert during the summer months.
Here are 5 ‘killers’ to watch out for:
- Time: According to SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) teenagers spend 44 percent more time in cars when school is out. Parents need to manage this and especially cut down on their teens’ nighttime driving, as the fatality rate goes up significantly after 9PM (nhtsa.gov)
- Piling in: Too many kids in the car = BIG distraction. Every state has Graduated Driver’s License restrictions for new drivers. These laws actually do help. As parents, we need to know these laws and make sure our kids follow them. Distracted driving accounts for 18-24 percent of all car crashes (150,000 per year or more for 15- to 20-year old drivers and more than 1 million per year for all drivers).
- Everyday Distractions: According to distraction.gov, cell phones are now the No. 1 cause of distracted driver crashes for teenagers. Also, music, GPS units and the tendency for all of us to take a “mental vacation” during summer add to this problem.
- Drinking: Cars + alcohol = a deadly combination. One drink is too many. Choose a designated driver, and tell your kids they can call you anytime, day or night for a ride. Do whatever it takes to keep them from driving when they’ve been drinking, or getting into a car with a driver who has.
- Drowsiness: Long rides + later curfews = more crashing cars. According to the latest statistics from the National Safety Council drowsy driving is now the No. 2 cause of distracted driving crashes.
Bob’s 5-Step A.L.I.V.E. Formula Will Help Your Kid Survive This Summer
- Anticipate stupidity. Teach your kids to drive as if every other driver is either drunk or stupid. That way they’ll be prepared for anything that happens on the road, and they will remain calmer behind the wheel (two key elements of defensive driving).
- Limit their access to the vehicle; According to a study done by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), kids who have free access to a car are an astounding 50 percent more likely to have a crash.
- Involve yourself in what your kids are doing.
- Volunteer to be a chauffeur, especially for late-night activities.
- Enforce your state’s Graduated Driver’s License laws, your house rules, and curfews.
The fact of the matter is that driving is serious—and potentially dangerous—business anytime. All of the safety features built into your car won’t protect your teen driver as much as making sure that he or she is mentally prepared for the challenges of driving in traffic.
That’s why we encourage you to download our free e-book, Save Your Teen Driver, and learn the 7 Things Every Parent Must Teach Their Young Driver. It’s one positive step you can take to prepare your teenager for driving under any conditions—no matter when he or she is on the road.
Parents enroll their teenagers in driver’s education courses for one very important reason: They want their kids to be safe behind the wheel. The problem is that a good portion of what those teens learn about driving in those courses doesn’t do much except perhaps to make their parents feel better. In many cases driver’s education is failing our kids. It’s not teaching them the things they need to know to be safer. Here’s why.
Author Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) talked often about the “90/10 Principle.” Here’s what he had to say:
Ten percent of life is made up of what happens to you. Ninety percent of life is decided by how you react. What does this mean? We really have no control over 10 percent of what happens to us. We cannot stop the car from breaking down. The plane may be late arriving, which throws our whole schedule off. A driver may cut us off in traffic. We have no control over this 10 percent. The other 90 percent is different. You determine the other 90 percent! How? By your reaction. You cannot control a red light, but you can control your reaction. Don’t let people fool you; you can control how you react!
What does this have to do with driver’s education and keeping your teen safe? Too much of a typical driver’s education curriculum focuses on things beyond our control. Is it important to know traffic laws and the rules of the road? Sure. But knowing the rules and the laws won’t keep your child from a serious car crash.
There’s also a lot more to complete, effective driver’s education than just learning the physical aspects of driving. Teens need to be taught the mental disciplines of good, safe driving. They need to be trained to react to the things life on the road throws at them. They need to learn to be aware—and to manage the things that are within their control so that they’re better equipped to deal with the things that are beyond their control (like other drivers!).
Save Your Teen Driver’s approach to driver education training focuses on six core areas that prepare teens to face the uncertainties and dangers that come with driving on today’s roads:
1. Speed Management
2. Space Management
3. Scanning of Mirrors
4. Attitude behind the Wheel
5. Danger Zone Recognition
6. The Other Driver
We’ve been using this method for more than 13 years to train more than 1 million drivers in 650 companies both in the U.S. and in 40 countries worldwide. Has it helped? Companies using this training have seen a 30 to 63 percent reduction in the number of crashes—along with a significant reduction in the severity of the crashes that do occur.
You can’t control everything to keep your teen safe. But there are some things you can do to prepare your teen for life-threatening surprises on the road. Shoot us a note for more information about how you can give your teen that kind of an advantage. Or give us a call at 1 (877) 881-4251.
As parents we want to do whatever we can to protect our teen drivers. We make sure their cars are equipped with seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and a host of other safety features. Those are all good things, but will those safety measures really keep kids safe when they drive?
There is mounting evidence that more and more driving “accidents” are actually caused by driver distraction, suggesting suggests that safe driving begins in the head. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that 20 percent of car crashes with injuries involved some element of distracted driving. The report also indicated that 16 percent of fatal automobile crashes involved distracted driving.
We all face distractions, but we often don’t think about the potential consequences—and that’s dangerous, because statistics show that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can double your risk of a crash. That’s a scary statistic, but let’s put it into perspective.
A report commissioned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration discovered that sending or receiving a text while driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. What that translates into is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field at 55 miles per hour—with your eyes closed!
Here are the top five driving distractions, according to new research by the National Safety Council:
- Eating and Drinking. This tops the list for the first time. We’re a mobile, on-the-go society. For many people, eating and drinking while driving is an everyday occurrence. Think for a minute about all of the distraction involved—not just once, but every time a driver takes a bite or a sip. And if the driver happens to spill something, that’s a major distraction.
- Drowsy Driving.This is another distraction that has trended upward on this undesirable list. NHTSA estimates that drowsy driving has been responsible for 100,000 deaths since they began tracking it over a decade ago.
- Cell Phones. The only surprise here is that this isn’t at the top of the list. Unfortunately, cell phones and texting are the “new epidemic on our roadways” according to former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. A study conducted by the University of Utah found that using a cell phone while driving (even “hands free”) creates the same delayed reactions as a person with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent (the legal limit).
- Grooming. You’ve all seen these people; shaving putting on makeup, even flossing! They’re doing everything EXCEPT driving!
- Reading. Maps, newspapers, and now even GPS units, iPads and Kindles!(see #4)
These may be the “biggest” distractions for teens (and adults) that drive, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. Passengers, loud music, changing clothes (can you believe it?) and a lack of focus behind the wheel are all major contributors to the 6 million crashes and more than 2 million injuries suffered each year in the U.S.
Tips for avoiding distractions
A. Before you start driving:
- Make adjustment to mirrors, seats, radios and A/C or heater, before you pull out.
- Know where you’re going. Read maps and directions ahead of time so the GPS lady’s instructions are less of a distraction.
- Turn off the phone. No phone call or text is worth your life!
B. While you’re driving:
- Don’t try to multi-task. If you’re human, it isn’t possible. If you’re doing two things at once, it means you’re doing two things BADLY! When one of them is driving, it spells c – r – a – s - h.
- If you drop something in the car, let it lie there until you pull over. (Check out ‘dropped cell phone while driving’ on YouTube.)
- Avoid intense conversations with passengers. Driving is not a spectator sport. It requires all of your focus and concentration.
So go ahead and make sure your teen has the best safety equipment possible, but to keep them truly safe, they must be trained to drive mentally. Remember the 90/10 rule. Ninety percent of crashes are caused by mental error, and the good news is, that makes them 100 percent preventable. True driving safety begins in the brain!
How can you help your teen develop the mental skills required to stay safe? One way is to download our free e-book, 7 Things Every Parent Must Teach Their Young Driver. It won’t cost you a thing, but what it may save you is priceless.
We’re quickly approaching one of the most anticipated—and deadliest—seasons for any high school student. For many students, prom season is the highlight of the year—a joyful rite of passage they’ve looked forward to since the onset of winter. But for far too many it’s the last event in which they’ll participate, and the last memory their parents will have of them.
The statistics for traffic-related deaths and injuries are pretty sobering for young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 years of age. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
The first thing that comes to most peoples’ minds when hearing about teenage driving fatalities is drinking and driving—and that’s certainly a huge contributing factor. According to the latest statistics, 31 percent of 15-to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in a one year period had been drinking. As horrific as that figure is, consider that more than two-thirds of the prom-goers killed were not drinking.
There’s obviously more to the story. Prom-bound drivers are relatively inexperienced drivers. Add to that the understandable excitement of the evening. Too often, teenage drivers are distracted—by cell phones, loud music or a stunning date who looks like he or she just stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine. They’re focused on just about everything except driving. And this distraction doesn’t just affect driving skills. The statistics also show that 77 percent of the drivers who were killed were not wearing seat belts. How big a deal is driving during prom season? The Department of Transportation reports that 5,000 teens are injured or killed nationwide over a typical prom weekend.
Would it help if we could convince more kids not to drink and drive, especially at prom time? Without question. But there’s something else that may help even more. Teens who have been trained—not only in the physical skills of safe driving, but much more importantly, in the mental skills of safe driving—have a much better chance of continuing to celebrate for years to come.
Bring up the topic of risky driving behavior to the parents of teenage drivers and most of them immediately think of drinking and driving. Of course, those parents are right, as the statistics for alcohol-rated crashes among teens clearly show. But what many parents may not know is that using a cell phone while driving—regardless of whether it's handheld or hands-free—delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 (the legal limit for drivers 21 and older in all states).1
Parents who would never dream of letting their kids drink and drive often don’t think twice about the distractions their kids face when they talk or text on cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, driving while distracted is deadly behavior, because drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, and drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash!2
Why is it so risky? When it comes to driving there are three main types of distractions: visual (when a driver takes her eyes off the road); manual (when a driver takes her hands off the steering wheel); and cognitive (when a driver takes her mind off what she’s doing). Teens (and drivers of any age for that matter) who text while driving are distracted on all three of those fronts. Today’s cars are so easy to drive (physically), teens often forget that they’re piloting extremely heavy objects at high rates of speed that can do a lot of damage.
Some parents may be tempted to think that their teen would never engage in this kind of risky behavior. The statistics, however, suggest otherwise: 46 percent of all 16- and 17-year-old drivers admit to texting while driving, and 48 percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 do it as well. Those figures shouldn’t be too surprising, given the fact that (according to a recent survey by State Farm Insurance) 53 percent of parents admit to being distracted by their mobile phones while teaching their children to drive! And when State Farm asked the kids about this, 61 percent claimed their parents were distracted by mobile phones while teaching them to drive.
If you’re serious about protecting your teenage driver, you need to take distracted driving seriously. Driving is not a “spectator sport.” It’s serious business that requires good driving habits, well-developed skills and focused attention at all times.
Remember, if you’re bored while driving—you just aren’t doing it right. Forty thousand people learn that lesson the hard way each year in the U.S.
1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Virginia Tech
2 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – see www.distraction.gov