As regular readers of this blog know, for almost two years I have been plugging away at two recurring themes: even the most sensible and well-trained teen drivers make mistakes that lead to crashes, and driving school education for teens provides the most basic level of instruction about how to handle a vehicle and the rules of the road, but does not come close to producing a safe driver.
I am grateful, therefore, for validation, in the form of other articles by experts and researchers who reinforce my point (and, in this case, I will concede, say it even better than I have). A few months ago, Sharon Carty, a veteran writer for autos.aol.com, http://autos.aol.com/author/sharon-silke-carty/, which is now part of the Huffington Post, called to chat about this blog. Two weeks ago, she produced an article entitled “Teen Drivers Making Common and Fatal Mistakes,” http://autos.aol.com/article/teen-drivers-making-common-and-fatal-mistakes/. The article begins with my son Reid and discusses this blog. It is excellent and insightful, and I highly recommend it.
The second article in Ms. Carty’s series, “Teen Driving: Think Driving Schools Make Safe Drivers? Think Again,” http://autos.aol.com/article/teen-driving-schools-safety/, covers in depth the evolution — or maybe I should say the collapse — of driver’s education in schools. She discusses the deficiencies in the current commercial enterprises that teach teens to drive, and the vast — though still largely counterintuitive — evidence that driver’s education does essentially nothing to reduce teen driver crash rates. I strongly recommend this second article as a partner to my September 15, 2009 post on the same subject.
I thank Ms. Carty for her excellent work, and encourage all to follow her continuing series.
And remember the basic message here: There are four realities of teen driving that teaching teens how to handle a car do not overcome: (1) the immaturity of their brains; (2) the fact that safer driving takes years, not hours, weeks, or months; (3) the impossibility of training teens for anywhere near the variety and complexity of situations they will face on the road; and (4) the fact that new drivers use a visual search pattern that encompasses the perimeter of the car (as they try not to hit anything), not the situation developing down the road, where trouble might lurk.