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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.)
Whenever 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 at: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=23181.)
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 Save Your Teen Driver.com. We help parents and teens evaluate their actual driving behavior and then train them on how to protect themselves on the road, until safe driving becomes second nature.
Get your teen’s knowledge out of his or her head and put it behind the wheel!