Last night, I attended part one of two of the “Accident Avoidance Workshop” with my 16-year-old daughter. She’s a new driver, obviously, and a decent driver, but I wanted to (a) make sure she knows everything she possibly can about how to drive really well, and (b) save a significant percentage on our now skyrocketing auto insurance. Last night’s class was a little over 3 hours, and we have an actual driving course on Saturday that will be more like 5 hours. I went in expecting to hear things I had heard before, but that my daughter had not. I got a lot more than I expected. Here are some of the things I learned last night that really surprised me.

A list of surprising unknowns

  • 98.5% of all drivers have less than 10 minutes of formal driver training. In contrast, Captain Sully, whose passenger jet you see safely parked in the Hudson River above, trained for thousands of hours in his planes and in gliders so he would be prepared for the most terrifying 3 minutes of most peoples’ lives.
  • In any car, at any speed over 37 or 38 MPH, jerking the wheel can cause immediate and unrecoverable loss of control.
  • The number 1 cause of teen fatality crashes is over correction.
  • An airbag deploys at 200MPH, which will shatter everything in its path, including your hands, arms, or pets. Therefore, if your care has an airbag, your hands should be at “9” and “3”, rather than 10 and 2, and you should never, ever carry your pet in your lap while you are driving. Never.
  • Drivers distracted by cell phone use kills more than 500,000 people every year. The most common defense of these drivers? “It was an important call.
  • The top three distractions are drowsiness, cell phone use, and audio books. In the words of our instructor, “You have to be asleep to be more distracted than driving while talking on a phone.” As for audio books, they are great and a great way to pass the time on a long drive. The problem is, the driver is in the book and not paying attention to the road. That’s the definition of “distracted driving.”
  • A driver is 6X more likely to have an accident while talking on a mobile phone while holding the phone; however, a driver is 8X more likely to have an accident while talking “hands free”.
  • You are 24X more likely to have an accident if you are texting while you are driving.

Day two of two: teens will drive

Saturday, I will ride shotgun while my daughter experiences “emergency” driving conditions. These conditions will include the following:

  • Dropping 2-wheels off the side of the road / overcorrection
  • Accident situation simulation
  • Maximum acceleration in a controlled environment
  • Maximum deceleration, both wet and dry conditions
  • Positioning yourself in the vehicle
  • Following distance determination
  • Distracted driving
  • Lane positioning
  • Parking space navigation
  • Learning where the corners of the vehicle are
  • Maximizing on maneuverability / rapid steering

The question of the night from the instructor, as our expectations were set for Saturday’s experience, was this: “Would your high school or college coach ever tell you to execute a play in a game that you had not practiced beforehand? Of course not, so how can we possibly expect a 16-year-old driver to make a good split second decision in an emergency situation if that driver has never experienced any such situation?

I highly, highly recommend this class for anyone, and even more so for a parent of a new, or soon-to-be new driver. Stay tuned for an update after Saturday’s adventure.


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