Do Scare Tactics Work in Driver Training?


NPR recently featured a story titled: Cheer Up It’s Just Your Child Behind the Wheel. The article talks about whether scare tactics work to get teens to drive safely. Pediatrician, Flaura Koplin Winston is scientific director for the Center for Injury and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a public health researcher with expertise in adolescent health and safety. She says “scare tactics may grab attention but do nothing to help build the skills needed to actually learn how to drive safely.”

We, at DrivingMBA agree with Dr. Winston and in fact our curricula align closely with studies done by Dr. Winston. We do not do a lot of “talking at” students in a classroom setting. Dr. Winston says in the article: “We’re always telling them, ‘Don’t do this’ and ‘Don’t do that.” and it isn’t particularly useful in helping them build skills.

Most of what we do to help teens build the necessary skills is hands on learning either in a simulation lab or on-road. We do a class entitled: Responsibilities of Driving Class which does feature several videos and photos, to help students understand the consequences of making poor choices behind the wheel. Within the last year we chose to use a video developed in the UK regarding texting and driving. While the video is a dramatization of what happens in a car crash it is also very realistic. We debated for a long time whether to use the video as it is not our intention to scare students but to help them realize how easily things can go very wrong. We also show the video to parents in our Parent Class. I have had several parents come to me afterwards and tell me their students came home and “talked” about the video and that it made an impression on them.

Red Means Stop and DrivingMBA will be participating in the kick-off Celebrate My Drive event being held at the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. We encourage students to get involved. State Farm will be awarding schools around the country $100,000 and students will have an opportunity to win a car!

author avatar
Maria Wojtczak
Maria Wojtczak is Chief Operating Officer at DrivingMBA. She has extensive knowledge in teen brain development and has pioneered many techniques used to teach students at DrivingMBA. Her passion for teaching and saving teen lives has made her a leader in the driver training industry.


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