The United States is becoming a dangerous place to drive. It has dropped from 1st (the safest country to drive in) to 42nd in road deaths per capita. Parents are the major influence on their children when it comes to driving. It is critical for parents to set a good example. Every time you drive, be careful that you are are not engaging in dangerous and irresponsible behavior. For example, excessive speed, eating, drinking and driving, driving while distracted by a smart phone or any other type of distraction.
Many parents believe, “my child does well in school, I’m sure they will be fine driving.” Statistics show that students that do well in school believe that they can multi-task and they cannot. Studies have found that humans can do one task with 100% efficiency, two tasks with 30-40% efficiency. This is why it is critical that parents do not teach their children that multi-tasking while driving is O.K., starting with when they are toddlers in their car seats watching your behavior behind the wheel.
Putting an end to distracted driving will require a change in public sentiment about driving and particularly about distracted driving. Today
driving gets very little respect. There are large numbers of adults who believe they are exempt from the mounds of information that tells us distracted driving kills. People who say they “have to be on a phone because of their work” are using work as an excuse. The question I continue to pose is: “have you ever received a text message or a phone call that was worth putting your life, your family’s lives, or another human being’s life in danger?
What will cause a behavior change? One interesting example of behavior change is the 1995 recommendation that child safety seats should not be used in the front seat of a vehicle with passenger airbags. The reason for this recommendation from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) was that if the airbag deployed and hit the child it could cause serious injury or death. This recommendation caused an uprecedented change in parent behavior. In under 12 months we went from 20% of child safety seats installed in rear seats to almost 80% of child safety seats installed in the rear seats. Today, 97% are installed in rear seats. Information alone caused parents to make real change to help protect their children. If information is what caused parents to make change in this instance to help protect their children, hopefully, when parents are armed with information about distracted driving and properly preparing their children to be on the road, that type of mass change will happen again.
Driving is something we should work on every day to improve our skills. In order for us to protect ourselves from the abundance of stupidity that is on our roadways, we need to pay attention to driving and only driving. Many treat driving as a right and not as a privilege and the attitude easily transfers to new drivers. It takes attention and skill to be a consistently safe driver. There are people that have been on the road for years and still don’t know how to execute basic skills such as a safe merge.