Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Posts Tagged ‘license’

How much behind the wheel training is enough for new drivers?

Posted by lapearce on July 24, 2009

In the United States we have varying requirements for behind the wheel training for new drivers. Some states require 25, others 30, but the best states require 50. These requirements all pale in comparison to Australia’s mandated 120 hours of behind the wheel training. However, Barrie Sinclair, professional driver and driving instructor, argues that it isn’t nearly enough time for drivers to become confident behind the wheel.

I have heard it say that it takes five years before someone becomes an average driver. Not Mario Andredi, just a good enough driver as the rest of the bad drivers out there. Five years. So Mr. Sinclair has a great point that 120 hours, or five days, of experience, is not nearly enough to equipt teens with the knowledge they need to be safe on the road.

One of the biggest problems, he finds, is that many teens don’t drive the 120 hours that are required. A survey of 1300 Australian teens found that 40 percent lied, or knew someone who lied, about their hours. Sound familiar mom and dad? We do it here too for a third of the hours.

The other problem, says Sinclair, is inexperience.

“They tend to think that they are bullet-proof and 10-feet tall… Virtually all of them come to see me when they are nearing the end of their 120 hours and tell me they are going for their license in three weeks and that they will get it. I don’t think they are ready but then they go for their test and they get given a license.”…

“As soon as they get their license they take off on a trip to Sydney or down the coast… They have not had any life experience outside of their 120 hours, which is nothing. It’s scary and it needs to be addressed.”

Mr. Sinclair thinks the problem needs to be addressed with more education and yes, more training. He wants driver education to be in high school cirriculum and required time in the car with a driving instructor, which Australia currently doesn’t have a law on. He thinks that boiling down education to a piddly 120 hours of in-car training has killed driver’s education in Australia.

More education comes at a cost. I feel that is one of the biggest reasons why more education isn’t required in the United States, Australia or many other countries where the love for the road and the mindset that driving is a right and not a privilage, overshadows the want to create good, safe drivers. Here in the United States, where the best states require less than half of the drive time Australia requires for permitted drivers, parents complain that driver’s education is too costly.

I would like to remind them that the average cost of a crash in the United States is $19,000 and that car crashes are the cause for nearly 40 percent of teen deaths. Yet they complain about the cost of a class that is less than most insurance deductibles. Talk about having their priorities askew! Until it happens to them it isn’t real. But until it happens to them, they may no longer have a child, or at the very least, be out of pocket thousands of dollars in insurance deductibles and increases. It is far less costly to prevent the crash through proper education, please, refocus your attention on making your child the best driver they can be, and not on your pocket book.

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Posted in dmv driver's training, driving school, Graduated Driver's Licenses | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Top Gear takes a comical look at the pitfalls of new drivers

Posted by lapearce on July 5, 2009

Top Gear, a British television show about cars, recently did an episode where they attempted to find the best car for a 17 year old boy, the age one can legally drive in England. They had to try to find a car they could buy and insure  for 2,500 pounds (~$4,000) that both a teen and a parent could approve of. They then took their cars and conducted a number of tests that the average teen boy may have to go through, i.e.: packing all your stuff in the car as quickly as possible, modifying it to impress girls, fixing damage, backing it into the driveway late at night without waking your parents, and finally: an obstacle course where they were supposed to hit all of the things teenagers hit and impress some girls with a handbrake turn. They also went over the struggles to insure a new driver, which is very expensive because of all of the above situations new drivers often times find themselves in.

The hosts do these tests with true comedic flare making for a very enjoyable show, they also bring light to a lot of truths about new drivers, most notable the chance for teens to crash. At one point (the beginning of part 3) Jeremy Clarkson tells his story of getting his license:

“I didn’t see it as a driving test so much as a confirmation of my excellence. That’s really what it was…. when he said ‘congratulations Mr. Clarkson you’ve passed’ what I heard was ‘congratulations Mr. Clarkson you are the best driver I’ve ever seen in my life!’ so you can imagine my surprise 36 hours later to find myself in a field surrounded by sheep that were no longer alive and bits of what used to be my mom’s Audi.”

We can all laugh about his story how because he’s still here with us, but so many new drivers have the same feelings of superiority on the road as Clarkson did and they lose their life finding out that they aren’t half the driver they think they are. Sad points aside, I think parents and teens alike can benefit to seeing some humor in this stressful and scary time.

Unfortunately, Top Gear is not available in the US. I’m sure these Youtube videos will be pulled for copyright reasons soon (if they don’t load try refreshing):

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