Conventional Driver Training Kills, Don’t Pass it on to Your New Driver!

If you learned how to drive sometime in the last 80 years, there’s an extremely high probability that you learned a “Conventional Driver Training” (CDT) methodology. Want to set your new driver up for an accident? Teach them what you learned or have them take lessons from a regular (CDT) driving school. If the average licensed driver thinks their driving skills are so great and that “Conventional Driver Training” (CDT) is so damn good, then tell me why over the last 75 years, twice as many people in the U.S. have been killed in auto accidents compared to the number of U.S. soldiers that have been killed in….


Conventional Driver Training (developed in the 1930’s) is a plague that has permeated our society. Driving schools and parents teach it to new drivers with the best of intentions, but good intentions are no substitute for teaching a driver training methodology that steers drivers into having accidents.

In the late 1480’s and early 1490’s, the vast majority of society arrogantly believed that the earth was flat and their knowledge on the subject was beyond reproach…..


Now, in 2017, the vast majority of society arrogantly believes that they know how to drive (and teach driving) and their knowledge on the subject is beyond reproach….


The truth? As an expert on this subject, I can tell you that “people don’t know what they don’t know” and that includes the vast majority of parents and professional driving instructors.  Conventional Driver Training is a “Flat Earth” methodology and is killing thousands every year.  You can continue the problem or be part of the solution.

John Cullington

A Good Driver is a Bad Driver

When I was a young child and I behaved in an inappropriate manner, my parents would call that “bad” behavior.  Bad meant bad.

Later on in my teenage years, I learned the meaning of “bad” had actually changed to mean “good”.  A bad concert or a bad car actually meant it was a really good concert or an awesome car.  Bad meant good.

Well, since “Bad” can mean “Good”, is it possible that “Good” can mean “Bad”?

The following is a list of statements that have been communicated to me by the “PARENTS” of the teenage drivers while they were observing me teach their children during their driver training lessons.

I tailgate…..but I’m a good driver.
I drive too fast….but I’m a good driver.
I roll stop signs…..but I’m a good driver.
I text while driving….but I’m a good driver.
I don’t always signal….but I’m a good driver.
I totaled a car last year….but I’m a good driver.
I ran into my garage door….but I’m a good driver.
I drive in “packs of traffic”….but I’m a good driver.
I’m afraid of driving at night….but I’m a good driver.
I rear-ended a car last week…..but I’m a good driver.
I roll red lights on right turns…….but I’m a good driver.
I have three speeding tickets…….but I’m a good driver.
I drive in other driver’s blind spots….but I’m a good driver.
I’m afraid of driving in heavy traffic…..but I’m a good driver.
I’m afraid of driving on the freeway……but I’m a good driver.
I’m afraid of driving on mountain roads…but I’m a good driver.
I sometimes hit the curb when parking next to it…but I’m a good driver.
I unsafely pull out in front of approaching drivers…but I’m a good driver.
I depend on my mirrors and don’t check my blind spots…..but I’m a good driver.
I sometimes cut other drivers off when making lane changes….but I’m a good driver.
I sometimes make lane changes into other driver’s blind spots…..but I’m a good driver.
I swerve around other drivers making a right turn in front of me without looking
….but I’m a good driver.
I forget to turn on my headlights when it’s raining (California requirement)
….but I’m a good driver.
I can’t park with wheels straight in the middle of a parking space
….but I’m a good driver.

The vast majority of drivers classify themselves as “good drivers”.  The harsh truth?  As an expert in the field of driver training for over 3 decades, I can honestly say without a doubt:

THE VAST MAJORITY OF DRIVERS ARE ……wait for it…….wait for it…..

                                          “BAD DRIVERS”.

Don’t believe me?  How can you explain 6.2 million accidents annually in the U.S. with 3.2 million of those accidents involving injuries?  Are all of those drivers good drivers?  How can you explain approximately 35,000 traffic deaths each year?  If our country is full of so many “Good Drivers” then why do thousands of these senseless deaths occur?  How can you explain that since 1949, almost twice as many people have been killed on U.S. highways compared to the number of U.S. soldiers that have been killed in all of the wars the U.S. has been involved in, going back to and including the Revolutionary War beginning in 1775?

Whatever happened to the goal of becoming, or having our children become, an “exceptional, expert, or extremely competent” driver?  Sadly, that goal has never been really prominent in our society…….it’s been supplanted by passing a pathetic 8-minute DMV driving exam and receiving a little piece of plastic called a driver’s license.  A driver’s license isn’t a goal, it’s just a piece of plastic.

The list presented above is by no means a complete list.  Review the list and see how many of those bad driving traits apply to your driving.  How many of those bad driving traits do you think your children/teenagers will adopt because, if mommy and daddy do it, then it must be OK for them to do when they start driving.  Parents will reap what they sow and bad driving traits are big bad dangerous seeds for new drivers. Please read my previous post The Education Program Most Likely to Kill to find out where a big part of the problem started.  Additionally, if you’re interested in fixing the problem, please take a look at the 5 Star Driver program I’ve developed.

John Cullington


Parents Teaching Teens to be Bad Drivers

The other day while giving a driver training lesson to a teenager, I realized what a “good driver” is to some people. While pointing out mistakes the other drivers were making, my student would comment, “My mom/dad does that…..but she/he is a good driver“.

We witnessed rolling stops, failure to signal, speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, etc.. Each and every time we witnessed these mistakes, my student would make the same comment about his parents making the same mistakes and then followed it up with, “but they are good drivers“.


We pulled over to the side of the road and I asked my student, “if committing all of these mistakes makes you a good driver, then what is your definition of a bad driver?” I received the infamous “deer in the headlights” look and he had no answer. I explained that those driving behaviors are indicative of a “bad driver”, not a “good driver” and if he adopted his parents driving behaviors, he would be the one I would be pointing out as an example of a “bad driver” to one of my future students.

After 33 years of teaching driver training, I can honestly say that a vast majority of parents are extremely “unqualified” to effectively teach their teen how to a safe and competent driver. Most parents think that since they have a driver’s license and think they’re a good driver, they also think they’re automatically qualified to teach driving. Nothing could be further from the truth.

During my driver training lessons, parents ride along in the back seat about 80% of the time to learn how to use the Cullington Driving Concepts® so they don’t unintentionally sabotage my training. I can tell you that 100% of the parents, after watching me teach their teen, tell me that they would have taught their teen the opposite way from how I was teaching. The parents also tell me that I improved their driving skills just by watching.


Parents have been set up to fail by the “DMV’s driver’s license mandates” by requiring them to “teach” their teens when they (the parents) haven’t been trained how to teach. The result is a transference of the parents “poor driving behaviors” to their teen.  Then, when the teen adopts the same driving skills & behaviors as their parents, the parent feels their job is done.

So, for the parents out there that don’t agree with what I’ve written, I challenge you to take this quiz and see how you do. If you would like more information about learning how to competently and effectively teach your teen how to drive, please go to this link.

John Cullington

The Education Program Most Likely to Kill

roadside memorial

If there was an education program out there that when completed, the graduates would end up being responsible for the #1 killer of 4 to 34 year-old people, would you rush to sign up for it?  You probably did.  Would you rush to sign your children up for it?  You probably have or will do in the future.

The education program I’m writing about is “Driver’s Education”.  You know that program, the one that’s required before getting a driver’s license.  Here are a few statistics from the nationwide “Required Driver’s Education” programs:

1.  Traffic crashes are the #1 killer of teenagers.  Teens make up 7% of the drivers on the road but are involved in 20% of the fatalities.

2.  During the first 3 years of driving, 80% of new drivers will be involved in a reportable accident.

3.  The first 10 years of the Iraq-Afghan war killed 6,800 U.S. soldiers while during the same 10 years, 392,603 men, women, and children were killed in automobile accidents.

The “Required Driver’s Education” programs are a complete failure yet millions of parents send their teenagers to these programs every year.  And, it’s not just the teenagers.  If you take a look at the first statistic, couldn’t you also interpret it as:

1.  Adults make up 93% of the drivers on the road but are involves in 80% of the fatalities.

The truth is, the driver education and training methodology that has been taught in the U.S. for the last 75 years is flawed, seriously flawed.  I’ll give you an example.


pretty woman on road

Scenario #1.  You’re driving down the road and ahead on the right side of the road, you see a really beautiful woman or a handsome guy and you start to really check them out.  Suddenly, you realize your car is steering right towards them….because you were looking at them too long.


police lights

Scenario #2.  A drunk driver is driving down the road and ahead on the right side of the road is a police car with flashing lights.  The drunk driver steers right towards and crashes into the police car because he was looking at the police car for too long…..because he was drunk.


bicyclist ahead2

Scenario #3.  Your teen is learning how to drive and is driving down the road with you in the passenger seat.  Ahead on the right side of the road is a bicyclist.  Not wanting your teenager to crash into the bicyclist you naturally say, “WATCH OUT FOR THE BICYCLIST”.


Now what do you think your teenager is naturally going to look at and eventually steer towards?  That’s right, the bicyclist…. just like the drunk driver steered toward the police car and why you steered toward the attractive person on the side of the road.

Congratulations, you’ve just successfully passed down a flawed driver training methodology to your children that emulates the visual search patterns of a drunk driver.

I have spent the last 32 years creating a driver training methodology that eliminates these flaws called the Creating a 5 Star Driver, Beyond Drivers Ed® video series.  If you truly care about making sure your teenager is a safe driver then have them complete my course and become a 5 Star Driver.


John Cullington

The Yellow Corvette

yellow corvette

While driving on Interstate 5 in Southern California just south of the 405 merger near Mission Viejo, a brand new yellow Corvette caught my eye.  Traffic was backed up and moving very slow, as is usual in this area.  I positioned myself in the #3 lane because it was obvious to me that this lane was moving faster than the #1 or #2 lanes.  The yellow Corvette was several hundred yards ahead of me and was darting in and out of the #1 and #2 lanes, cutting off other drivers and making them brake suddenly.  Because my lane was moving a little faster, it didn’t take long to pull up next to him even though he continued to try and catch any little space that might get him ahead of the next car.

I looked over at his license plate and it read:


Well, one would assume that this middle-aged gentleman probably attended and graduated from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), at least that’s what I assumed.  Then I began to wonder:

Why doesn’t this presumably intelligent man just get into the lane that’s moving faster instead of risking an accident with his nice new yellow Corvette by darting in and out of slower moving traffic?

I kept observing this gentleman for about 10 more minutes through my rear view mirrors, he continued to cut in and out of the #1 and #2 lanes until I was too far ahead to see him.  I then began to wonder:

Did the MIT on his license plate mean something different like:

Motorist in Training?

I guess I’ll never know.  One thing I do know, most drivers think that because they have a driver’s license, they automatically know everything there is to know about driving.  The qualifications to pass a driver’s license test are at best, the equivalent of a One Star Driver.

A Five Star Driver should be every driver’s goal.  Please check out my new

5 Star Driver Video Training Program at

John Cullington


Am I Ready to Take My Drive Test?

I picked up Marina, a 19 year-old college freshman who was learning to drive.  This was her first driving lesson with an instructor but she had driven with her older sister a few times.  Marina seemed eager to “prove” to me she was already a good driver so I would give a good report to her father, fast-tracking her path to that all important California driver’s license.

Only one problem, she wasn’t a good driver.  Although she could operate my car with relative ease, she quickly learned that “operating a vehicle” and “driving a vehicle” are quite different.  Knowing how to stop at a 4-way stop-sign intersection didn’t give her the understanding of when it was her turn to go, the confusion and resulting close calls were immediately apparent.  Our entire lesson was filled with examples of these confusions relating to many different aspects of the driving experience.

When the lesson concluded, Marina looked at me with a big smile and asked, “Do you think I can pass my driving test”?

smiling girl in a car
Click on Image

I politely explained that she wasn’t ready to take her test and that she was still in the learning process.  I thought to myself:

How can a smart young girl ask a question like that after all of the examples of her
“not being a competent driver” were presented during the lesson?

Because she didn’t know what she didn’t know.

Marina had just completed her college freshman year so I asked,
“If your university offered you your 4-year BA / BS degree certificate right now without having to complete the next three years, would you accept it”?
Without hesitation she answered, “absolutely not”.

I asked her why and she said,
“I wouldn’t have the knowledge or skills I would need to pursue my career”.

I told Marina that since she would have a BA / BS certificate to show she was qualified, she could still pursue her career and her response was, “But I wouldn’t know what I was doing so it would be a very short career”.

I smiled and said, “Well, the minimum qualification to pass a drive test is like getting a 4-year degree after only one year but with one difference……if you don’t know what you’re doing in a car, it can kill you.  The drive test is only about 8 minutes and does not test the competency of a driver”.

Marina’s smiling face transformed into a more serious and concerned face….she was really thinking about what I said.  I hope Marina stops looking at the driver’s license as the goal and starts looking at becoming a 5 Star driver as the goal, her life may just depend on it.

concerned girl in car
Click on Image

If you’re interested in helping your new driver become a 5 Star Driver, pick up my new
Creating a 5 Star Driver…Beyond Driver’s Ed™ Driver Training Video Series.

Click on Image

John Cullington

The DMV Driver’s License: A False Sense of Safety for Parents and Their New Teen Drivers.

Parents are being set up for failure by the DMV and they don’t even know it.  In California, a teenager under the age of 18 is required to take a driver’s ed & training course offered by a DMV licensed driving school in order to get their driver’s license.  Additionally, the new teen driver is required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of parent-supervised driving practice before taking the driving exam.

The problem is, parents are not trained or equipped to perform this task effectively and in fact, only 17% of parents actually complete the 50 hour requirement before the teen is licensed.  Driving instructors are required to be trained by completing an instructor training course (a farce in which I’ll debunk in a later post) and pass a written test in order to be licensed.  Additionally, licensed instructors are required to have:

1) An instructor’s rear-view mirror
(Parent Driving Instructor Mirror is shown and available at
         (click on image)


2)  A passenger-side brake

instructor brake

before they can teach new drivers the required 6-hours of behind-the-wheel training.

A driving instructor is “prohibited” from teaching without the training course, instructor’s exam, passenger-side brake, and the instructor’s rear-view mirror.  However, the DMV has no problem requiring the parent to spend 50 hours behind-the-wheel with their teen without any instructor training, instructor brake, or instructor rear-view mirror.


parents crying

The DMV has set up parents to fail.  I believe this is one of the major reasons as to why driving is the #1 killer of teenagers and has been for over 70 years.  Another reason is the absolute insanity of a driving exam that only lasts between 6 to 10 minutes.  The DMV seems to be more interested in cost cutting and retaining revenue than the lives of our new teenage drivers otherwise the licensing standards would be much greater.

This is exactly why I created the 5 Star Driver, Beyond Driver’s Ed Video Driver Training Program.  You’ve raised and protected your children from diapers to their teenage years, don’t be blinded by the “false sense of safety” that passing a 6 to 10 minute DMV driving exam is in any sense, an accomplishment that will protect your new teen driver from an accident.  Over eighty percent (80%) of new teen drivers are involved in a reportable accident within the first 3 years after licensing…..a whopping 20% success rate.

Passing a One-Star driving exam only means the driver has met the minimum requirements to be a One-Star driver and the California DMV driving exams are at best, a One-Star exam.  Make sure your new teen driver becomes a 5 Star Driver.


John Cullington


Teaching Your Teen Driver How to Hold a Steady Speed

You’re on a long road trip with a good friend and you instantly notice your friend (the driver) is having difficulty holding a steady speed of 65 MPH.  The car speeds up to 70 MPH and then down to 60 MPH, only to start the climb back up to 70 MPH.  The two extremes average out to 65 MPH but you’re beginning to get car sick from the constant speed oscillation.  Your long anticipated road trip just became a nightmare.


Now you’re teaching your teen how to drive and you notice the same up and down speed oscillation. How do you fix it before it becomes a bad driving habit?  The fix is simple if you know the cause.  The speed oscillation is caused by the driver focusing too much on the speedometer and doesn’t feel the acceleration or deceleration of the vehicle.  If a driver accelerates quickly up to 40 MPH and lets off the accelerator just as the speedometer registers 40 MPH, the vehicle will propel past the intended speed and may reach 45 MPH or more.  The same occurs when decelerating.  When the driver has too much attention on trying to control the speedometer needle, the driver’s attention isn’t on feeling the sensation of:

a)  Acceleration

b)  Deceleration

c)  Neither acceleration or deceleration (going a steady speed)

The fix is simple.  Cover the speedometer so the driver can’t see it while still being visible to the driving coach.  The driving coach now becomes a “human speedometer” and the driver will stop oscillating their speed.  The driver is now forced to hold a steady speed by being aware of the sensations of acceleration, deceleration, and holding a steady speed.  Some students become aware of these sensations right away and others take a few hours of driving until they can feel these sensations but the driving coach has to be fully engaged at vocalizing the speed of the vehicle.



The Driver Can’t See the Speedometer


The Driving Coach Can See the Speedometer

After thoroughly teaching this method to my students, I’ll cover the speedometer and ask them to go a specific speed.  Over 90% of my students will be within 2 MPH of that speed without ever seeing the speedometer.  The speedometer becomes a “secondary check” of their actual speed while using their “perception of speed” to get close to and maintain a steady speed.


I hope this helps and please feel free to check out my new 5 Star Driver Video Training DVD’s for more advanced driver training strategies.

John Cullington

Why Video Games Stop the Desire and Make it Difficult to Learn Driving

Thirty years ago, you couldn’t find a 15 year-old teenage boy who wasn’t counting down the days until he could get his driver’s license. Today, large numbers of teenage boys (and some teenage girls) just don’t seem to be interested in getting their drivers licenses and in fact, many parents are forcing them to take driving lessons against their will.

Why does this happen? After teaching thousands of teenagers to drive, I’ve discovered that the teenagers, the ones that really don’t care about a getting a driver’s license, are almost 100% of the time videogamers. But it’s not limited to just videogamers, teenagers who spend a great deal of time on computers, smartphones, and gameboy type of devices are usually just as reluctant to learn how to drive.

To explain this situation, I’ll borrow a little information from my new Video Driver Training Program. We have two types of vision, peripheral and direct. Direct vision is the highly focused narrow part of your vision for sharp detail while peripheral vision is the non-focused wide part of your vision covering about 170° – 180° of the area ahead. Peripheral vision is also used to detect motion.

The problem arises from the visual search pattern created by constantly looking at electronic screens. All electronic screens have borders, 100% of the information presented is confined within the borders of those screens while 0% of the information is presented outside of the screen border. Playing videogames for years and staring at screens for long periods of time, these teenagers develop a hyper-focused direct vision while completely shutting off their peripheral vision (how many times have you walked into a room where someone was playing a video game and they didn’t see you when they should have?). The pattern of only looking straight ahead while completely shutting off peripheral vision creates a dangerous visual search pattern for driving.

video gamer

When one of these tunnel vision videogaming teenagers gets behind the wheel for the first time, most parents and driving instructors are completely scared and baffled as to where they should begin because there seems to be no control or common sense by the new teenage driver whatsoever. The new teenage driver stares straight ahead (like they’re looking at a videogame screen) without turning their head or moving their eyes side-to-side. In videogames, the picture on the screen moves to the teenager’s eyes. In driving, the teenager’s eyes must be trained to move to see the picture. I’ve retrained many students after they’ve tried and failed to learn at some of the cheap driving schools so please, if a driving instructor ever says your teen can’t learn, it may be that he doesn’t have the skills to teach them. Don’t be discouraged, find a competent instructor or learn how to do it yourself through the program.

The cure is to change the visual search pattern of the new driver. The new driver is attempting to drive only by their hyper-focused direct vision as their peripheral vision has been effectively shut off. These new drivers have peripheral vision, they just don’t trust it. Accomplished drivers use and trust their peripheral vision to know how far they are from another vehicle or maybe a bicyclist without having to look directly at them. Our peripheral vision “detects motion” and “lack of motion”, an incredibly important “problem detector” necessary for survival while sitting behind the wheel. However, when a driver doesn’t trust their peripheral vision, they resort to putting their direct vision on the vehicle or bicyclist often resulting in steering towards those things.

I am not a big fan of videogames because of the extremely dangerous effects they have on new drivers. If driving wasn’t the #1 killer of teenagers and if eighty percent (80%) of new drivers weren’t involved in a traffic accident in the first 3 years, then I might have a different opinion. I encourage parents to mothball the videogames and get your teenagers outside doing activities that will enhance the trust of their peripheral vision.

When a teenager crashes in a videogame, they hit the reset button without any consequences. When a teenager crashes while sitting behind the wheel of a real vehicle, there is no reset button, only consequences.

Please check out my new Video Driver Training Program and make sure your new teen driver is a 5 Star Driver.

John Cullington
Certified Driveologist™

The Arrogant Licensed Driver

arrogant driver2

You’re at a seminar for safe driving, a requirement of your employment. The speaker asks everyone who believes they are a “good driver” to raise their hand. All of the 250 participants raise their hand, including you. Then, the speaker asks everyone who believes that “other drivers are the problem drivers” to raise their hand, the same 250 people do so, including you.

Does this mean that 249 of the people in this seminar might be thinking that you are the problem? Just who is the problem? Couldn’t be me, I’ve had my license for many years now, I’m a great driver and I passed my driving exam 30 years ago on the first try……no, it’s all the other drivers out there that cause all the problems, not me.

As an active behind-the-wheel Certified Driveologist™ (expert driving instructor) for well over 30 years, I come across this arrogant attitude on a daily basis. Since I’ve created a brand new highly-advanced driver training methodology, the vast majority of my lessons occur with parents observing me teach their new teenage drivers my new methodology from the back seat. At the beginning of the lesson, I usually ask the parent if they would classify themselves as a “good driver” and the response is “yes, of course I am” probably 99% of the time.

During the lesson, when I begin to discuss where the new teen driver should be practicing their driving, most parents start talking about their own driving fears and inabilities.  The parents use these fears as a reason why they aren’t going to be able to practice driving with their teenager in those specific areas or situations. The most common driving fears I hear from the backseat are freeways, mountains, heavy traffic, downtown, night driving, fog or heavy rain. Many parents tell me they’re personally afraid of driving on freeways, downtown, or mountain roads.

What happened to the self classified “good driver” statement? A parent who is afraid of freeway or mountain driving isn’t likely to take their teen driver on the freeway or mountain roads. The result of this situation is that the new teen driver doesn’t receive enough driving practice to become skilled in these areas and adopts the driving fears of their parents. In talking with these parents, I usually find that “their parents” (the teenager’s grandparents) exhibited the same fears…..and so the pattern continues to the next generation.

The problem comes from thinking the “Driver’s License” is the ultimate achievement in determining a person’s driving skill. It isn’t, it’s not even close. The driver’s license is no more than a cruel joke that gives a false sense of security to un-suspecting parents and also serves as an “achievement-based justification” to excuse parents from continuing on with the driver training process because the licensing process is complete. The driving skill level needed for a 16 year-old to get a driver’s license is a One-Star Driver skill level which by coincidence is the same skill level needed to be a prime candidate for a roadside memorial.

The One-Star California DMV driving exam lasts between 4 ½ to 11 minutes and DOES NOT address any of the advanced driving skills needed to drive safely on the road. Eighty percent (80%) of new drivers are involved in a reportable accident within the first 3 years resulting in a twenty percent (20%) success rate.  Driving is also the #1 killer of teens and has been for over 70 years.

If you are comfortable with a One-Star Driver skill level for your new teenage driver knowing there’s a 4 in 5 chance of them being involved in an accident, then I would classify you as a One-Star Parent. Knowing how to “drive” and knowing how to “teach driving” are two completely different skill sets yet the DMV and most parents assume they are the same skill set.  If you want your new teenage driver to have the driving skill level of a 5-Star Driver, then be a 5-Star Parent by becoming educated on how to “teach driving” and do what it takes to get them to that point. I’ve created the 5-Star Driver program to help 5-Star Parents achieve that goal.

John Cullington

How to Set Up Your Teen for a Traffic Accident: Part 2

If you haven’t read How to Set Up Your Teen for a Traffic Accident: Part 1, please do so before reading this post as the solution for preventing traffic accidents is multifaceted. In Part 1, I expressed my views on the inept Regulatory Requirements for passing a driving exam.  This post addresses the effectiveness of the Driver Education and Training Industry.  I’m bound to step on some toes so let the fireworks begin.

Driver Education and Training Schools:

As an active driving instructor (driving school owner and operator) in the private sector for more than 30 years, I’ve personally trained over 10,000 clients (from 15 to 101 years of age) so my assessment of the Driver Education and Training Industry is based upon actual experience instead of just theory.  My expert assessment of the industry is that the current driver education and training methodology is fundamentally flawed. This fundamentally flawed methodology was created as a result of a resolution by the National Safety Council in 1935 and installed in our high school curriculum in 1949 (and is still currently taught nationwide). Driving has been the #1 killer of teenagers for over 70 years so how can the Driver Education and Training Industry claim any success. Albert Einstein once stated that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.  In my opinion, this is what the vast majority of the Driver Education and Training Industry does.

As I earlier stated, I’m an active behind-the-wheel driving instructor in California.  For the last several years, about 30% of my clients come to me after they’ve already received driver training from other so-called professional driving instructors.  Most of the time, these clients are teenagers who’ve scared their parents to the extreme or are classified by their parents as not having the ability to learn how to drive.  I find it very interesting that the focus of the “inability to learn how to drive” problem falls on the new driver instead of on the person trying to teach the new driver.  Since I don’t have any difficulty teaching these supposedly “difficult new drivers” how to drive, one must conclude the lack of knowledge resides with the parent or so-called professional driving instructor.

A big part of the problem is that driving instructors (including parents who teach their teens to drive) are mainly concerned with passing the driving exam and receiving a little piece of plastic called a driver’s license….in other words, they teach to the difficulty of the test.  The driver’s license isn’t the goal, that little piece of plastic never protected anyone in a traffic accident.  Becoming a safe and competent driver should be the goal. Many driving schools and/or instructors brag about their first time test passing statistics, like that’s something to be proud of.  Eighty percent (80%) of new teen drivers will have a reportable accident within the first three years so getting a teenager to pass a driver’s license test seems to have a twenty percent (20%) success rate at avoiding an accident within the first three years.  For further proof, check out the DeKalb Study at NHTSA.

It’s time for parents to stop pretending that the driving school industry, as a whole, is competent enough to prevent driving from being the #1 killer of teens.  Parents also need to realize that “knowing how to drive” and “knowing how to teach driving” are two totally separate skills and should not be conflated.  Learning how to become a knowledgeable Parent Driving Instructor is essential to teach their teen how to become a 5 Star Driver.

John Cullington

How to Set Up Your Teen for a Traffic Accident: Part 1

teen driver accident

Driving is the #1 killer of teenagers in the U.S. and has been for over 70 years.  Why have we as a society allowed this to occur for so long?  During the first 10 years of the Afghan-Iraq war, approximately 6,800 U.S. soldiers sadly lost their lives, the news of their deaths were on the front page of newspapers and breaking news on the nightly newscasts.  In comparison, during the same 10 year time-frame, 392,603 men, women, and children were killed due to traffic accidents in the U.S. alone……an amount over 57 times the number of the U.S. soldiers killed.  Where’s the outrage?

It appears our society has apathetically accepted that these traffic deaths are largely unavoidable and just part of the risk of driving.  As an expert in the field of driver training (I’ve personally trained over 10,000 students), I can tell you without any reservation that this premise is wrong.  There is a solution.  There are many facets to the problem and they all have to be understood to solve the problem.

Regulatory Requirements:
During this last summer, I spent some time visiting several of our local DMV’s (California Department of Motor Vehicles) to observe the behind-the-wheel driving exams.  I kept hearing from my clients that the driving exams were as short as 4 minutes, claims that I thought were exaggerated.  They weren’t. The first driving exam I personally witnessed, from the time the student first backed out of her parking space until she returned and shut off her car was 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  I was sure the student had failed but when I asked her how she did, she told me she passed and had only made one mistake.  Four minutes and thirty seconds folks……just let that thought settle in for a moment.  The most dangerous activity that young teenage girl will probably ever do is drive and she received her driver’s license after a 4 MINUTE AND 30 SECOND DRIVING EXAM!

I witnessed well over 25 driving exams at several of the DMV’s in my area (Central California) and I discovered the driving exams generally lasted between 6 to 11 minutes with an average of about 8 ½ minutes.  The tests that I witnessed did not include any freeway driving, 3-point turnabouts, lane changing in heavy traffic, left turns at intersections, 4-way stops, and about 20% of the time, the examiner didn’t even have them prove they could reverse in a straight line next to a curb.  To say these driving exams were a complete joke would be an understatement of monumental proportions.

If you think a driver’s license is an accurate measure of driving competency, think again. Many parents assume their licensed teens are safe because the driver’s license is a measure of “driver competency”.  It isn’t.  The regulatory requirements are woefully inept to insure “driver safety and competency” but are very cost effective for “driver licensing”.

Five years ago I turned on the cameras during an actual California DMV Driving Exam to show how inept the driving exam was, it was about 15 minutes back then.  Now, five years later, the DMV has shaved about 6 minutes off of their current driving exam.  View the You-Tube video of that driving exam here to verify what I’m saying.

How to Set Up Your Teen for a Traffic Accident…Part 2 will be out soon.  Please feel free to subscribe to my e-mail notification or RSS to receive my new posts (your e-mail info will not be shared with anyone)

John Cullington

P.S.  Please check out my new 5 Star Driver Training Video Series to learn how to make your teen a 5 Star Driver.

Drive Safe … Are These Empty Words?

You’ve just spent the holidays with your family from out of town and they’re getting ready to hit the road to return home.  As they start to drive away you wave and say, “Drive safe”.  Why do we say these words?  Do we say this thinking our words will actually have a positive effect on the way they’ll drive on the way home or has this phrase just become the polite thing to say to express our love and concern.

When someone says to us “Drive Safe”, do we conscientiously process a driving plan different from our normal driving patterns in order to drive safer?  I don’t think we do.  I think the normal response and/or thought process is to politely wave as if to say thank you for their concern and drive away believing that we already know how to drive safe and we will do so.

So let’s talk about safety.  Over the last 10 years, 392,603 men, women, and children were killed in traffic accidents along with over 3 million injuries (per year)…..and that’s just in the U.S alone.  Of those traffic injuries and deaths, 16% are attributable to teenage drivers while 84% are attributable to adult drivers.  Yes, the adult drivers are in the majority.

There are 2 major aspects to safe driving:

1.  Skill

2.  Behavior

Both are important to safe driving but telling someone to “Drive Safe” in reality is only a weak attempt at addressing the behavior aspect of driving and since most drivers already believe they know how to safely drive, the words basically fall on deaf ears.

Try something new.  When you want your words to have a real impact, try addressing the “skill” side of the equation.  Example:  Hey Uncle Joe, on your way home please don’t be in a hurry.  Keep an extra-large following distance so you can control the traffic behind you.  Don’t drive in other vehicle’s blind spots and please don’t make lane changes into other vehicle’s blind spots that are two lanes over. Also, when you stop to get snacks at the market, make sure the kids know that the little white lights on the back of cars in the parking lot tell them the car is in reverse and getting ready to back up so they should never walk behind those cars. Hey Aunt Mable, I know you’re upset that Uncle Joe didn’t get you that 5 carat diamond pendant for Christmas but please wait until after you get home to discuss it, I don’t want Uncle Joe to be emotionally distracted from his driving.  Apply these SKILLS and you will all get home safe.

Now which method do you think would more effective in preventing accidents?

John Cullington

P.S.  If you’d like to know how Uncle Joe can control traffic by keeping an extra-large space in front of him, pick up my book, “The Cullington Driving Concepts…Empowering Parents To Teach Crash-Proof Driving” or sign up for my 5 Star Video Driver Training Program to make both you and your teenage driver , 5 Star Drivers.  Both are available at  

Distracted Teen Driving: Applying the Correct Fix

There has been a lot of press about the problem with distracted teen drivers primarily due to texting and the use of cell phones in general.  With the focus being on the evil “cell phone” or in other words, the “object”, it’s easy to say, “just put down the cell phone and the problem is solved”.  It isn’t solved!  The #1 killer of teenagers is driving and that statistic occurred long before cell phones were even invented.

The real problem lies with the lack of proper driver training.  Distractions are everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes but one of the most dangerous distractions is: Thinking about something that has nothing to do with what you are doing at the present time.  While you are driving, if you start thinking about something else other than driving, that is distracted driving.

We cannot eliminate distractions, it’s impossible.  What we can do is to teach the student driver not to be the effect of distractions ……… I always tell my students that nobody can distract you without your permission.

I wrote a section in my book titled, “Distractions: The Problem and the Training Solution”.  As an expert in the field of driver training, I’ve found that distractions are an extremely important part of their driver training.  During the more advanced parts of their training, I purposely try to distract my students into making mistakes (like turning the wrong way on a one-way street) while simply talking with them about their boyfriend, girlfriend, grades, sports, etc.  I make it a training game, a distraction training game.  Of course I won’t let my students make the mistakes but I prove to them, the mistakes would have been made had I not been there to stop them.

The realization by the student driver that by continuing to distract them into making major mistakes while they were expecting the distraction is a very powerful training tool because the student realizes they could easily be distracted by their best friend when they weren’t expecting it.  The more distraction training you give a driver, the greater their ability to resist being distracted.

I spent over eight hours of intense distraction training with my daughter and was rewarded when she took her first trip to San Francisco at age 17.  She called me and thanked me for all of the distraction training I gave her because as she put it, “it isn’t that hard to drive in San Francisco in fact, it’s pretty easy.”

If you don’t teach a student driver how to control their own attention, you condemn them to the effects of distractions.  Giving the student the ability to control their own attention is the key.

John Cullington

Please check out my new 5 Star Driver Training Video Series

Teaching Teens To Drive Diagnosed With ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, or Bipolar Disorder

Having been an active instructor for over 30 years, the answer is simple.  You teach teens diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, or Bipolar disorder the way they need to be taught.  That’s it, just teach them the way they learn best and the problem is solved.

Over the last several decades, labeling teenagers seems to have become a national past-time.  It seems like the teens that are looked upon as “normal” escape the labeling process but the teens diagnosed with disorders listed in the title of this post, have big labels pasted on their foreheads. When it comes to teaching driving, I’ve found these labels create more of a hindrance than they help. In fact, I don’t think they help at all.

I think these labels are used by some professionals to hide their own ignorance and/or inability. It’s so much easier for a professional to say, “Your teen has (enter label) and that’s why he can’t learn how to drive like a normal teen”. What this “professional” is really saying, “This teen doesn’t respond to my teaching method like most of the other teens do and I don’t have the knowledge, capability, or want to put out the effort to alter my method of teaching”.  The difference between a professional and an expert? An expert makes the necessary changes and adaptations to surpass all others …. a professional doesn’t.

There are several different learning styles and no two students learn exactly the same way.  If a teen learns how to drive in a very short amount of time, they might be labeled as gifted or normal.  If a teen takes a long time to learn how to drive, the labels aren’t quite as inspiring. This apparently easy method of assessing the driving competency of a teen is dangerous.  Many times, the fast learning (normal) student may learn “too quickly” without respecting their mortality and may fail to lock in all of the safe driving attributes presented, leaving hidden knowledge gaps. This situation creates the illusion of a competent driver.  A slower learning student is usually more concerned about their mortality and strives harder to keep all of the safe driving attributes in place by making sure they fully understand all of the presented knowledge.  Very often, the slower learning student turns out to be the better driver so how quickly one learns is irrelevant.

Whenever I have a student where the parent has warned me of let’s say, ADHD. Here’s what I say to the student:

Instructor:  I’ve been told that you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD. I don’t care about labels in this car. Do you really want to learn how to drive?

Student: Yes

Instructor:  If I were to place $1 million in cash on the dashboard and tell you that you could keep the $1 million if you keep 100% of your attention on learning how to drive during this two-hour lesson, would you do it?

Student: Yes.

Instructor:  If I take away the $1 million, have I taken away your ability to keep your attention on the lesson?

Student:  No.

Instructor:  So what you’re telling me is that you have the ability to keep your attention on learning how to drive if you choose to do so. Do you choose to keep your attention on this lesson for the full two-hours?

Student: Yes.

I now have a commitment from the student and I’ll remind them of it whenever their attention starts to lapse, which it will, so expect it and accept it.  You can only teach a student as fast as their ability to learn allows so be extremely patient and extremely thorough. It really doesn’t matter whether a student learns slowly or fast, the only thing that’s important is that the student learns completely in order to become a competent and safe driver.

John Cullington

Pushing Driver Training to the Back of the Line

It’s back to school time and everyone is rushing around trying to get acclimated to their new schedules so let’s put those driver training lessons on the back burner.  There just isn’t time with football and cheer practices going on every day after school and you can’t take your teenager out of class to take their driver training lessons…..after all, it’s only driving.  Let’s squeeze in their driving lessons in the evening after a full day of school and after they finish football practice, when they’re dead tired is surely the best time for our teens to learn the most dangerous activity they’ll do in their lives.

Are you insane?  It’s only driving?  Driving is the #1 killer of teenagers and has been for the last 70 years.  We want our children to get good grades so they can get into a good college or university but the one activity they’ll do almost every day of their lives is drive.  So they get accepted to Cal or Stanford, they still have to drive there.  You want to risk getting that knock on your door at 3:00am?  In actuality, driver training is more important than all of the other school classes and activities because driving is the #1 killer of teenagers.  I checked and couldn’t find the number of teenagers killed because they missed a Spanish or Geography class.  By the way, driving is also the #1 killer of 4 year-olds to 34 year-olds. Take your teenager out of school for their driving lessons when they’re fresh and rested so they can assimilate as much information about safe driving as possible.

Next, parents need to become qualified to teach their teens.  Knowing how to “drive” and knowing how to “teach driving” are quite different and new teenage drivers are the ones that will suffer the consequences of poor training.  Check out to become a qualified Parent Driving Instructor, your teenager will thank you and you’ll sleep better when they’re out driving on their own.