Driver Conditioning Part 4: Adults Taking Responsibility for their Driving Habits

Driver Conditioning Part 4: Adults Taking Responsibility for their Driving Habits

Driver Conditioning Part 4: Adults Taking Responsibility for their Driving Habits

Driver education never ends.

When attempting to conquer any challenge, if a lack of knowledge is considered the first stop toward disaster, over-confidence should be considered the second.

Dean T. Johnson is the president and founder of The Sandy Johnson Foundation: Making Our Roads Safer. He began the efforts of promoting safe roadways, soon after the unnecessary deaths of his wife and mother-in-law.

Not many adults concern themselves with learning to be a better driver. After all, most parents have been driving for years, and “practice makes perfect,” right?

Although that actual thought may not be on your mind as you get behind the wheel, I’m sure most of us feel confident in performing any task we have repeated as often as driving.

Unfortunately, that mindset makes driver conditioning particularly dangerous. The more comfortable we are when driving, the less attention we pay to our driving environment. This makes us more likely to miss subtle changes in traffic patterns or road conditions, consequently putting ourselves and other road users at risk.

With this reality in mind, how can we educate adults and parents on driver conditioning and convince these experienced drivers that they still have more to learn about being a responsible driver? After extensively studying this issue, I have come up with three ways to effectively introduce new safety information to experienced drivers. These options include:

  1. Required Study – This would not have been practical before the broad use of the internet, but today, a short 20- to 30-minute program, highlighting the effects of driver conditioning , could be placed online along with a test to insure comprehension. Think about it, we take one test as a young, inexperienced driver, and we may never have to take another driving lesson ever again. If, instead, drivers had to take an online test as part of renewing their license, we could help instill in all road users the importance of continual driver training and reinforce the risks of driver conditioning.
  2. Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) – Social media outlets have made it easier than ever to disperse information, but local television and radio stations still offer a unique opportunity to reach a large number of people in a short period of time. Many of us simply do not understand the risks we face each time we get behind the wheel, but seeing PSA’s on a regular basis could serve as a constant reminder to adults and teens about the dangers of driver conditioning.
  3. Early Education – Another option would be to approach parents through their children. This was successfully implemented decades ago to help reduce the number of smokers in the U.S. Starting at the elementary level, children were taught about the health hazards of smoking and they, in turn, went home and confronted their smoking parents about the health issues they had learned in school. Over time, conscientious parents, aware of the dangers and not wanting to create anxiety in their children, worked toward ending their smoking habit. There is no reason we can’t try something similar with driving.

Each of these suggestions could help drive down the injuries and deaths we see on our roads each year, but implementing a version of all three would have the biggest impact. This would require the coordination of many private organizations as well as governmental agencies, yes, but I believe the results would be worth the effort.

Currently, there is a coordinated national endeavor to achieve zero fatalities on our nation’s roadways, but in order to reach that goal we must cast a broad net and try a variety of options. I believe these programs could go a long way toward achieving that goal.

In Part Five of this series, we will learn about another danger few drivers ever think about—the roadway itself.


GM Foundation