“The learner should realize that every careless and inattentive act on his part, not only endangers his life, but the lives of his passengers, pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles.”
That quote comes from Amos Neyhart, from his foundational 1934 work Instruction Book on the Safe Operation of a Motor Vehicle for Teachers and Learners. Neyhart, a professor at Penn State, originated the entire field of driver’s education. He taught students in the classroom and behind the wheel in his own car, a 1929 Graham-Paige. That particular car didn’t have a radio. Neyhart himself died in 1990, a decade before cell phones and GPS devices began to transform the inside of a car and really define what modern distractions are.
The words Neyhart published 78 years ago seem more prescient than anything from Nostradamus as modern cars and modern technology tempt us to distraction more every day. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of today’s crashes and vehicle fatalities, and something we modern driving instructors must continually address.
Parents, you don’t seem to be helping as much as you could. According to a new survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota, teens who think their parents drive distracted are 3 times as likely to drive distracted themselves. Remember, your kids start watching your driving behavior the moment you place them in a forward-facing car seat and get behind the wheel. Everything you do, they see, and children are wonderful mimics of parental behavior. Click here to read more about the new study.
Parents, take the time to go on a little inquest and take a strong, objective look at your driving behavior. If you can’t, have someone help you – solicit opinions from family and friends who often ride with you. If you’re not sure what behaviors to model for your children, why not give us a call? An hour with a professional instructor can reveal worlds about your driving, including dangerous habits you’re likely not even aware of yourself.
Driver education hasn’t changed much since the Neyhart days of the Great Depression. He recognized then that distracted drivers are dangerous drivers. What has changed is how very easily we can become distracted behind the wheel, and how much more dangerous we’ve become as drivers.
At Modern Driver Institute, we’re here to help ALL drivers, even the 87% of licensed Americans over the age of 30 who earned their driving privileges before cell phones existed and who are likely now training tomorrow’s drivers, just by modeling behaviors.