As a driver, we can begin the process of mentally preparing to drive by doing hazard perception training. We actually drive with our brain and eyes as opposed to our hands and feet. Your brain tells your eyes where to look, your eyes look and see potential hazards and then send a message back to your brain with a required response. Your hands and feet or are then called to duty to protect you. Cognitively, you’re actually doing this before you realize it. What helps immensely is having advanced training to get your brain ready for these hazards before you really need them. Dealing with many possible hazards and the proper responses before you need them is the way to begin a safe driving career.
Hazard perception training, combined with driving on public roads, enhances our ability to not only perceive potential hazards, but gives you options of how to deal with these often hidden hazards. This actually speeds up the process of hazard perception so the driver is better prepared for the real world. Computer and simulator training are often the best methods to get your brain on the same page as experienced drives. This type of training is critical for a new driver to gain experience in thinking like an experienced driver – but in less time.
Even the best athlete with amazing hand-eye coordination can’t deal with potential hazards as quickly as someone who has been trained mentally to do this. For years I’ve had students who did not have hazard perception training and would often have ‘target fixation’ when a hazard appeared. They stared at the hazard and did nothing. I had to intervene and help them out. For the students who did hazard perception training, they would often respond immediately without assistance; just like a seasoned driver.
So, what type of driver would you like driving your vehicle; someone who thinks and responds like an experienced driver or someone who may have ‘target fixation’ and responds late. I know what my answer is; what’s your answer?
Today the website SaferTeenDriver.com was relaunched with a new hazard perception evaluation and related defensive driver training courses. The updated website incorporates best in class evaluation and educational services from BrightFleet.com, but adds a unique coaching guide to help parents and teens get the most from the training.
“We have spent years helping fleets improve their safety programs and reduce risk,” said Bob O’Connor, the CFO of BrightFleet, “Now I have a teenage daughter who was having difficulty learning how to drive. She had learned the basic mechanics of driving, but lacked any real understanding of the hazards around her. It was as if she was driving in a bubble. Out of frustration I thought about applying the same hazard perception evaluation and related courses we had been using for several years with commercial fleets, but this time for her.”
Teen drivers are most at risk of having an accident in their first year of driving. Car accidents are still the number one cause of death for teenagers, and injure or maim countless more. Novice teen drivers lack the experience to identify and understand the kinds of hazards that are common on the roads today. They tend to have poor situational awareness, and target-fixate on hazards that appear suddenly, instead of concentrating on maintaining an “out” if a potential hazard turns into an actual one.
“I found that my child responded very well to the training, given the additional guidance I was able to provide to help her understand how the training worked. She picked it up right away. She completed her evaluation, and was assigned a set of courses like proper use of mirrors, safe lane changing, and the other motorist to take,” said Mr. O’Connor. “She completed her courses in about a week, and in the following ride-alongs with her I noticed a real improvement in her awareness. She was talking me through the potential hazards she was watching as we drove along. I was blown away by her progress in such a short period of time, and that’s when I decided that we had to make this training available to parents and novice teen drivers.”
Parents interested in seeing how this service can help their own soon-to-be or just licensed novice drivers can watch a short video explaining how SaferTeenDriver works. The training normally retails for $119.95 and includes access for both the parent and the teen driver, but during a limited introductory promotional period, new accounts can be purchased at a discounted rate of $99.95 by using the code “TheExtraMile” during the checkout process.
SaferTeenDriver.com is a service of BrightFleet.com, which is a service of Compendium Software Systems, LLC – a veteran owned small business located in Central Florida that focuses on tailoring advanced technologies into solutions that help prevent accidents, reduce risk, and save companies (and now parents!) money by improving the safety and efficiency of drivers everywhere.
Block was able to spend the better part of an hour interviewing her over the phone about her mission and her relationship with Hang Up – Save A Life, an organization she helped start after losing a friend in an automobile accident where the other driver was texting.
It’s an interesting interview. She makes several excellent points – including the need to reach young drivers who are just learning to drive, as well as older drivers who are just learning to text.
Decision Points: Do you think distracted driving is also a problem among commercial fleets?
Jamie Lynn Crandall: I think everybody is guilty of it. Although I’m trying more to get the attention of young people in high school that are just starting to learn how to drive, it’s just as important for people my age and even our parents, because they’re just starting to learn how to text, and they’re trying to do it at the same time they’re trying to do everything else. I would especially hope, however, that the drivers of fleet vehicles would take these warnings even more seriously, as they’re on the clock at their job.
Distracted driving is now considered to be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Texting while driving is considered to be one of the most risky things people can do behind the wheel, and most company and government vehicle policies prohibit it while on company time. Many parts of the country have laws prohibiting texting while driving, and there are apps for smart phones that will help parents and fleet managers control the ability to make and receive calls and texts while driving.
Read the whole thing over at Decision Points @ Fleet Blogs.
Every year nearly 5,000 young drivers are killed in automobile accidents in the US, and a staggering 300,000 more are injured or maimed. Car accidents account for nearly 40% of the total number of deaths for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
With summer starting, it’s a great time to set or reinforce some basic safety skills and guidelines for your teen driver:
Source: Ford Driving Skills for Life
School is almost out, summer will soon be here, and teens have a license to drive. Unfortunately, with the arrival of summer comes riskier teen driving behavior. No school means more time for cruising, piling lots of friends into Mom’s car, and later nights.
Parents! Talk to your teen about summer driving and set some rules. Here are a few to get you started.
- Buckle up! – Remind your teenager again and again how important that single little click can be. Statistics show that seat belt usage is lowest among teenagers, even though seat belts continue to be proven as the No. 1 life-saving device in accidents.
- Don’t drink and drive – You may assume your teen knows this, but it’s worth a sit-down talk. Make sure your teen knows the dangers of driving under the influence – or getting into a vehicle with someone who’s been drinking.
- No text zone – Remind your teen driver to avoid distractions such as texting, loud music and any activities that take their eyes away from the road for extended periods of time.
- Passenger Limit – Always set a limit on the number of passengers allowed in the car.
- Set a curfew – Make sure your teens know when you expect them home, and make sure they know it’s not debatable.
Parent-Teen Driving Contracts
Consider creating a Parent-Teen Driving Contract with your teen drivers. Parent-Teen Driving Contracts help establish your expectations with your teen driver, where driving privledges are dependant on safe driving behaviors you designate as important to your family. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (PDF) indicates that parents are the key to enforcing good driving behavior in young drivers.
“Parents are big influencers of their kids’ behavior. The more involved they are, the less likely kids are to engage in all types of risky activities associated with the teen years.“
The Success of Graduated Drivers’ Licensing Laws
Graduated Drivers’ Licensing (GDL) is becoming law in many states. GDL’s generally restricts nighttime, expressway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full drivers’ license. In states where GDL’s are required, accident fatalities for teen drivers has dropped by up to 30%. Even if you do not live in a state with a current GDL law, you can create your own Parent-Teen Driving Contract based on the same principles that make GDL’s successful.
It’s important to talk to your teen about the rules of the road, to clearly set your expectations of them, and outline the consequences of failing to meet your expectations.