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.
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