We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Lessons from Texas for the capital region

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, April 27th 2018

The Peace Arch border crossing. Drivers accustomed to low-key capital region police should be wary when in the U.S., Steve Wallace writes. Drivers need to follow officers’ instructions closely.


Last week, I attended the Driving Schools Association of the Americas regional conference in conjunction with the Texas Driving Schools meeting in San Marcos.

Here is a sample of some of the things presented and discussed.
The “How to get stopped by the cops and not get shot” session was an attention grabber.
The presenter showed how recently licensed new drivers are taught to behave when pulled over by the police.
They should remain in the vehicle with their hands visible on the steering wheel.
The police officer will give instructions to open the window.

Then, and only then, should a hand move from the wheel to comply.

Texas Highway Patrol will often use the bullhorn to direct a driver to pull over to a safe spot. They will ask for the licence and insurance.
The registration is posted on the inside of the windshield on all Texas vehicles.
The instruction to make slow and deliberate movements is given by the officer.

Patrol personnel will usually have a hand on their sidearm throughout this process.
At night, it is not unusual for police to approach with guns drawn.
This can be intimidating for not only the novice driver but also the uninitiated!
For this reason, the Texas Highway Patrol has a new program of rewarding safe and courteous drivers.

They stop drivers and award a prize for such behaviour.

It might be a safety kit or other automobile related item of significant value.
Nice gesture: Reward and punishment is apparently alive and well in Texas.
There is a driving school advisory group in many states south of the border.
“Listening, learning and serving” is the credo of the annual Texas planning session for all driver educators and examiners.
Nothing like this exists in B.C. and many other jurisdictions in Canada.

Parents and/or instructors are permitted in the back seat during the road test in Michigan.
The testing is done by driving school certified examiners.
The state maintains the regulatory and inspection-licensing function.
The radical 2008 economic downturn in the U.S. caused many states to seek cost reductions in their driver-licensing divisions.

The driving test takes less than half an hour in most jurisdictions.
For better or worse, privatized third-party testing is a growing trend.
California has continued its online learners-licence written test.
It is done at home and there is no verification of the actual applicant doing the test.

Sadly, it’s a tax-collection function.

Teens across the U.S. are waiting longer to get their licence.
Most get it in their senior year as opposed to the sophomore class, in past decades.
In Texas, teens in cars are three times more likely to be killed at night.
The presenting police team asked all the delegates to guess the time period when the most deaths occur.
The time spans were, 6-9 p.m., 9-midnight and beyond midnight.
Many of us chose the after-midnight time duration.

We were all mistaken.

It was the 6-9 p.m. time.

There were other workshops on such topics as how to teach deaf drivers.
Texas has 87,000 deaf teens and many want to learn to drive.
It should be noted that deaf drivers have an amazingly low crash rate.
In many states and provinces, they are the lowest risk group of all those insured.

My own experience with this group of students has always been rewarding.

It seems they appreciate their driving privilege more than the average vehicle commuter.






© 2023 Joan Wallace Driving School. All Rights Reserved.