We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

More observations on the driving public

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, November 5th 2018

An Australian study has found that drivers in the ‘N’ phase have very high crash rates, while those in the earlier ‘L’ phase generally have a good safety record, Steve Wallace writes.


Here are some more observations made at the Driving Schools Association of the Americas Convention in Baltimore last month, in no particular order of importance:

• Look at their feet!

This is the advice given by an experienced driving instructor.
Pedestrians will telegraph their directional intention by pointing their feet the way they wish to go.
Eye-to-eye contact is recommended, but never underestimate the feet.

The same goes for instructors and co-pilots.
Observe the feet of new drivers.
Many do not do the heel pivot from gas to brake and vice versa.

A small foot suspended in midair is a foot most often hitting the pedal with improper aim and pressure.
A big foot is often one that is likely to hit the brake and gas at the same time.

Many new drivers ask: “What makes it go?” It is best to explain “what makes it stop” first.

• Student drivers of all ages under 40 learn at the same rate.

There is one very dramatic difference between teen and 30-something learners, though.
When both groups have a close call, teens tend to brush it off as a one-off fluke, but the latter group takes it very seriously and asks for a review of the dangerous situation.

• Years ago, the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy followed learners from birth to licence acquisition in the first study of its kind.

They found that an infant was the most likely to die in a crash.
This knowledge led to the development of the infant car seat, resulting in a dramatic decline in the infant death rate in a vehicle.

• Australian driving safety regulators found that drivers in the ‘L’ phase have great safety records.

Drivers in the ‘N’ phase have amazingly high crash rates.

• There is a driver-education behaviour referred to as a parent trap.

This refers to the constant and repetitive trips to and from the same location.
It is usually to school or regular extracurricular activities and possibly a part-time job.
Quality practice includes trips of more than 30 minutes to the same location, taking different routes and trips to different locations.

All graduated licensing courses have a recommended mandatory number of practice hours.
It is an average of 45 hours in most of North American states and provinces.
Some of these jurisdictions have done investigations validating such mandatory practice requirements.
They found onethird of parents forge the documentation, another third are iffy about the process and the remaining third comply with the mandatory practice criteria.

• Parents often say what should be done during their practice drives with new drivers.

They often leave out the how, why and when of the driving task.
The longer parents were in the vehicle as copilots, the better teens drove.
Teens drove better when alone in the vehicle once they passed their road test and got their driving privilege.
Their driving safety declines with the addition of passengers.

It could be because of the additional distraction or peer pressure.

• Male teens are more self-centred and crash more than female teens, who are more field centred and blend with traffic rather than trying to influence it.

• One in five drivers will be 65 or over by the year 2030.

• Airbags explode at 320 kilometres per hour.

Drivers should be at least 25 centimetres (10 inches) from the steering wheel.






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