Teen drivers have heard that they should not text and drive, but do they know how truly awful they are at doing both? My daughter knows, because when she drove and used her phone as part of Ford Driving Skills for Life event this past weekend, she took out eight cones, in about ten seconds. She was driving at a speed of around 5 miles per hour.
The 300 other Illinois teens who attended the same free event also go to see first hand just how using technology impacts their driving. (Hint: They are really awful drivers when using their phones.)
It’s not surprising that, across the U.S., motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. Approximately 3,000 teens between ages 16-19 die each year.
Despite that fact, teens are still known for feeling invincible, or thinking they are better at something than science says is actually possible. I was so glad that my teen could see for herself how very untrue both thoughts are.
She brought a friend with her to the Driving Skills for Life event, and it turns out that she wasn’t any better. And they both know they have a peer witness who can attest to their lack of ability, in addition to my husband and me, who tagged along to watch.
Also, did you know that having other teens in the car is a top distraction for teens? The instructors covered that. My teen learned that being a good passenger also matters, which is something I probably hadn’t thought to cover as thoroughly as I should have when taking her out driving before she gets her license in a few months.
Not only did she learn about distracted driving, she gained valuable skills in sessions on hazard recognition, vehicle handling, and speed and space management. Those are critical factors in more than 60 percent of vehicle crashes.
In the vehicle handling session, she got to spin out in a rear-wheel drive Ford Mustang that was modified with casters to lift the wheels, making it much easier to fishtail. She learned how to steer out of it. That’s something that I wasn’t going to teach her, and certainly not in my car. But I’m so glad that she’s done it. I’m also grateful she learned how to handle anti-lock breaks and just how hard she can slam on them. Those are things not covered in drivers ed, but that she’ll probably need to know on the road.
Insert parental shudder here, right? But that’s why I’m sharing the info about this program. No one sponsored this post, and I’m not being compensated. I thought it was great, and I want all kids to have the chance to do it. It’s that so much of driving is learning through experience, and Ford Driving Skills for Life was a great, no-cost event that offered a chance to gain that valuable experience.
I have to say going in that I wondered if it would feel like a commercial for Ford, but it didn’t. It was all about the teens in attendance and giving them a chance to learn how to be better drivers. That’s valuable not just for them, but those of us who will be sharing the road with them.
As a parent, I appreciated that they had law enforcement officers on hand to discuss things like curfews and graduated drivers license (GDL) laws. You can find a list of all state’s GDL regulations here. Check out not only your state’s rules but also any states your teen may be driving through.
Best of all, my daughter and her friend said they both had fun and were glad to have learned a lot. That’s saying something coming from busy teens who gave up half their Saturday. It also signals to me that the instructors got through to them, in the best ways, that becoming a good driver is worth time and effort, and that it takes both.
Ford hosts these events around the country. (The 2019 calendar will be posted in the fall on www.drivingskillsforlife.com.)
But you don’t have to leave home – you can find free virtual reality and web-based educational programming at www.drivingskillsforlife.com. Go to “The Academy,” which focuses on areas of inexperience and distracted/impaired driving. Either way, parents should hang back but observe. The videos, quizzes and tips are great conversation starters. And they’re valuable reminders to parents that our teens are watching and that we need to be good role models behind the wheel.
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