Hey everyone, long time no see! As you guys know, I am a high school junior. There is so much that goes into junior year – lots of homework, a bunch of projects, and at least a few tests everyday. It can get super stressful! And with such a busy schedule it’s really hard to fit in driving. Here are some ways I have found to squeeze driving into a busy school schedule:
- Ask your parents to let you drive to or from school. In California, more than half of the kids don’t have buses available to them, so depending on how far it is to school, this drive can be a great way to add on some minutes to your driving record. I live about a fifteen-minute drive from my school so it’s an easy and convenient way to rack up hours.
- Use the weekends to your advantage, usually on the weekends my family goes to the movies, or the beach, or a special outing, or something of that nature. Since I have gotten my permit I have always asked to drive. Experience is everything when it comes to driving, so ask to drive as much as possible.
- Suggest a family outing once a week. Offer to drive the family somewhere to gain practice once a week, like going out for ice cream on a Sunday evening. This will also help you break out of your routine and develop other driving skills, such as nighttime driving.
- Always offer to drive. Lastly I think this serves as a good blanket rule to follow – always offer to drive! Like I said before, experience is everything, drive as much as possible, and as often as possible, to prepare for your driving exam. Practice makes perfect, so try to drive a lot before you take you test.
When you have a busy schedule, it can be hard to find time to drive with your parents, but there are lots of ways to fit it in. Of course, you need to make sure some hours are in the evening, some during the day, and to be really good (if you live in an urban area, like my home city of Oakland, Calif.) your driving experience should include some of the tough passages like the MacArthur Maze, which is two miles from my house and where four freeways meet! It isn’t where I started driving the first couple of months but gradually I have taken on these tougher routes.
If you’re still looking for some extra help while you practice, don’t forget to download the new Mentor for Families by eDriving app which tracks your driving hours, performance, and provides helpful training tips to improve your driving skills. Happy driving!
Read more from DriversEd.com’s teen blogger Jett Roberts:
- Teen blogger Jett Roberts talks 1-on-1 with a DriversEd.com driving instructor
- Teen talk: 5 Stars for Mentor, eDriving’s new app!
- Teen Blogger Jett Roberts Picks up Defensive Driving Tips in his Interview with a DriversEd.com Instructor
Are you a parent who panics at the mention of “supervised driving practice”? Here’s a suggestion: Look at it as a great opportunity. The driver’s education stage is the best time you’ll have to influence and shape your teen’s lifelong driving behavior.
In 2013, teens 15-19 represented only 7% of the U.S. population. However, they accounted for 11% ($10 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries. That’s why all 50 states and the District of Columbia impose a three-stage Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system. Most states require the learner stage of GDL programs to include at least six months of supervised driving practice, or longer. While this is the ideal time for your teen to gain experience in various driving situations, many parents don’t know how best to train and support their teen during this period, other than riding along with them. Know that there is much more to supervised driving practice than “collecting” hours—it’s what you do with your teen during those hours that counts.
Lack of variety
A report published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says the types of driving practice teens are currently getting is “relatively homogeneous”; they’re regularly driving in residential neighborhoods and light traffic, but less frequently in more challenging situations such as highways, inclement weather, darkness, and heavy traffic.
“The vast majority of practice is the same trips, the same routines over and over again, so teens might be driving to school each day or driving to church on Sunday. And those might be the only settings in which teens are getting practice,” said report author Arthur Goodwin, Senior Research Associate, University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. “By the time they are eligible for their license, we have teens who have never been on an interstate highway, never driven in bad weather or at night—situations they’ll be driving in once they are on their own. And ideally, we want them to experience those more challenging settings for the first time with a parent there to help.”
The main obstacle to varied practice, it seems, is time, and the fact that families tend to incorporate driving practice into “typical family travel”.
“Driving practice is generally squeezed in wherever the family has time and opportunity,” Goodwin said. To provide different training experiences for your teen, you’ll likely need to make a few special trips.
Communication is important during supervised driving practice, but parents appear to be focusing on practical instructions such as vehicle handling and giving directions, Goodwin said, rather than providing useful advice on skills like scanning, hazard perception, and anticipating the behavior of others.
“Parents could be doing a lot more to help their teens learn to see the road like an experienced driver, such as learning to spot hazards in advance, rather than slowing down at the last minute; helping them spot trouble before it occurs,” said Goodwin. “Many parents aren’t taking full advantage of the six to 12 months of driving practice because most of the time they are more or less sitting there as passengers. Teens are getting practice, but they’re probably not learning as much from that practice as we would have hoped.”
OK, so you’re not a driving instructor!
Let’s be realistic: it’s likely parents have zero to very little experience in teaching teenagers how to drive. And to make things even more challenging, Goodwin said, “most parents learned to drive before the GDL existed, so they didn’t have these long supervised driving periods. Parents have no ‘model’ to look back on, so they are coming up with this themselves.”
5 ways parents can effectively train their teen during supervised driving practice:
- Practice, practice, practice. State supervised driving hours are a minimum. The more your teen drives, the more experienced they’ll be when they get on the road alone.
- Increase variety. Once your teen’s ready, let them progress from residential streets and light traffic to busier roads with heavier traffic.
- Break the routine. Make special trips so your teen experiences driving in all settings, such as in the dark and in the rain.
- Communicate. Help your teen see the road like an experienced driver. Encourage them to look well ahead for hazards, scan the road and drive defensively.
- Continue coaching. Once your teen has his or her full driving license, don’t just hand over the keys. Continue supervising when appropriate—and keep track of when and where your teen is driving.
A job well done, but not over
What happens when your teen does pass their driving test? Your effort is not over. Goodwin recommends parents continue supervising their teens’ driving, by varied means.
“They could continue to supervise on occasions; say if there is snow or ice and the teen has never driven in that setting,” he said. “Parents also need to keep very close track of when and where their teens are driving. There may be settings in which the teen hasn’t had an opportunity to get much practice so maybe their driving in that setting should be limited. If they haven’t driven much at night, for example, then even though the teen has a license and even though there might be license restrictions on nighttime driving, parents might want to add their own restrictions on driving in the dark until they have chance to get out for more practice.”
Thanks to new technology, you can now supervise your teen even when you’re not in the car with them. In fact, technology can give you a helping hand to teach your teen to drive. And you can use it to monitor your teen’s approach to safe driving, including monitoring your teen’s driving performance, such as braking and acceleration trends, obeying speed limits, and avoiding distractions.
“There is a space for technology, and that’s something most families seem to welcome, especially if it can make their lives easier. If we can find ways to use that tool to encourage parents to help their teens to become safer drivers, that is an even greater benefit.” — Arthur Goodwin, UNC Highway Safety Research Center
eDriving and DriversEd.com have the tools to help:
- Mentor for Families by eDriving, is a smartphone app that serves as a “coach at your fingertips” during supervised driving. It tracks journeys, helps you log your teen’s driving hours and provides in-app coaching. Once your teen is driving independently it helps them maintain good habits and lets you see how they are doing on the road.
- eDriving’s interactive One More Second® online course is the ideal preparation for supervised practice. Retrain your own habits and learn ways to instruct your teen in two hours.
- Professional in-car lessons with a driving instructor are the perfect supplement to parent coaching. Why not ride along with your teen to pick up tips from an expert?
Why? Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. And because of this dangerous trend, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging parents and teens to take essential steps to prevent crashes this week, dubbed National Teen Driver Safety Week.
But first, it’s time to assess your own driving behavior: Are you a good example of safe driving? Also, do you talk with your teen often enough about the risks they face on the road?
Once they’re driving independently, teen drivers are a high-risk group. In 2015, almost 2,000 teen drivers were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes and 99,000 were injured on the roads. The good news: Teen driver crashes are preventable and there’s plenty you can do to help protect your teen.
“Parents are one of the top influences on teen driver safety. Parents need to start the conversation, set the standard and spell out the rules for their teen when they start getting behind the wheel,” the NHTSA stated. “Self-reported surveys show that teens whose parents impose driving restrictions and set good examples typically engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer crashes.”
The big six
The NHTSA has identified six specific driving behaviors teenagers engage in that can be extremely risky:
- Drinking and driving
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Driving with passengers
- Driving tired
Make sure your teen is aware of each of these dangerous behaviors and help them understand why – and how – they can increase his or her likelihood of becoming involved in a crash. Tell them how important it is to avoid putting themselves, and others, at risk.
Next, share the facts with your teen. For example, did you know that in 2015, almost one in five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking? And that, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distraction is a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes? As for carrying passengers, NHTSA research shows that teen drivers are 2.5 times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer, compared to driving alone. The risk triples when driving with multiple passengers.
Be sure to impose mobile device restrictions on your teen while they are operating a vehicle. The use of cell phones and other electronic devices is a particularly big risk factor for teen drivers. We’ve highlighted the reasons why before, including phone addiction, an “always-on” lifestyle and “Fear Of Missing Out” (FOMO). Yet, teens aren’t the only ones addicted to their phones. According to Common Sense Media, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology, parents use media for entertainment just as much as their kids, yet have concerns about their children’s media use.
“American teens use an average of nine hours of media daily, not including for school or homework. Meanwhile, a majority of parents (56%) admit they’ve checked their phones while driving, and their teens are watching—and, in many cases, copying that behavior,” said Common Sense Media founder and CEO, Jim Steyer. “Any parent who has sent their teen out on the road hopes that he or she is not using their phone while driving, but what example have you set as the driver your kids have watched the most? Parents should make it clear that mixing keys and phones is absolutely unacceptable, set clear rules (and consider downloading apps that can help enforce them), and set an example by not using the phone while driving.”
Rules and consequences
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have a three-stage Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system that limits high-risk driving situations for new drivers. The NHTSA says GDL can reduce your teen’s crash risk by 50%. Familiarizing yourself with your state’s GDL laws will enable you to enforce the restrictions and establish important ground rules to keep your teen safe.
As a family, you can take this a step further and all agree to follow a set of safe driving rules. Mike Sample, Lead Driving Expert and Technical Consultant at Liberty Mutual, believes a teen driving contract is the ideal conversation starter.
“Parents are key influencers when it comes to teens’ behaviors behind the wheel – both their current habits and ones they may pick up as they gain experience and confidence,” he said. “In fact, four out of five parents admit to phone use while driving. It’s key not to critique just your teen’s driving behaviors, but use observations about both your and your teen’s habits behind the wheel as learning experiences. Families can use the Liberty Mutual and SADD teen driving contract as a conversation starter and discussion guide. The contract outlines important safety issues and can offer an easy way for all members of the family to agree on predetermined rules.”
Parents, here are our top five tips to help encourage your teen to drive safe this National Teen Driver Safety Week and every week:
- Strike up conversations with your teen about the risks they face, including traveling as a passenger with other teens.
- Set a good example by modeling the correct driving behavior to your teen.
- Define expectations and agree consequences for breaking the rules.
- Continue coaching your teen in the first weeks and months of driving. eDriving’s new smartphone app, Mentor for Families by eDriving provides neutral coaching to help your teen maintain good driving habits – while providing you with visibility into how your teen is doing out on the road.
- Reward good driving behavior. If your teen’s driving is great, let them know! Mentor’s FICO® Safe Driving Score allows you to set goals to ensure your teen continues to improve and maintain good driving habits.
Read more about teen driver safety:
- Mentor for Families app provides ongoing improvement for new teen drivers
- Forget backpacks. The most important thing you can give your teen this school year is sleep
- Know before you go: Who’s in my car?
More resources for parents of teen drivers can be found on nhtsa.gov.
So, your teen is ready for supervised driving practice. That’s excellent! But, where do you, as the parent, begin? The process can seem a little daunting. But, with a helping hand, you can use the supervised practice period to shape your teen into a safe, confident driver who is ready for anything on the road.
Mentor for Families by eDriving is a personal coach that gives you the confidence you’re teaching your teen everything they need to learn during supervised driving practice. The Mentor app will help you log your teen’s driving hours and keep track of the trips your teen has made. Better still, you’ll receive reassurance that your teen is building the skills they need to be a safe driver.
And, because Mentor is app-based, everything is stored on your teen’s smartphone. That means that you – and your teen – can review their progress at the touch of a screen.
One step at a time
Learning to become a safe driver doesn’t happen overnight. Of course, that’s the whole point of the supervised driving practice period: it takes time to develop the skills needed to be a confident and competent driver. Our expert recommendation is to wait until your teen has completed their driving lessons with a professional instructor before you let them begin practice driving. After that, it’s time to take practicing to the road.
Here’s a top tip for you. Begin supervised practice in a parking lot or quiet residential area. And, in the first few lessons, only expect your teen to drive a few miles. Start with the basics, such as simple vehicle control, then move onto longer trips. The tricky part is knowing when your teen’s ready to learn a new skill. Mentor for Families details how your teen is progressing with key skills such as braking, cornering, and acceleration. And you’ll easily identify weaker areas before they turn into bad habits!
Tracking driving hours
During supervised practice, your teen must rack up a certain number of driving hours (check the requirements where you live), including some at night. Your teen should gradually build experience of driving at different times of day, in various locations, on every day of the week and in all types of weather. This exposes them to a wide range of driving environments and helps prepare them for driving alone.
Keeping track of this information is a breeze with Mentor, as the app records the details of every trip your teen makes – including the time, date and exact route. And, because it gives your teen a FICO® Safe Driving Score after every trip, you can see how their skills improve as they make repeat journeys. To ensure your teen’s score improves, Mentor supplements your training with a “playlist” of 3- to 5-minute, in-app coaching modules based on his or her driving performance. So, your teen gets to see exactly where they’re going wrong and how they can improve before they get back on the road.
Shaping good driving behavior
The supervised period is the time when YOU have the opportunity to influence the way your teen drives, forever. That’s why it’s important to make the most of it.
Think of Mentor for Families like a Fitbit for new drivers. You don’t wait until you’re at the peak of fitness to start monitoring your progress with Fitbit. You start measuring your performance right away so you can identify areas for improvement, strive to do better, and feel a sense of achievement when you accomplish your goals. That’s exactly what Mentor can do for your teen during the supervised period. And the best news is that your teen will learn to be a safer driver from day one!
A final tip: Go practice driving with your teen as often as you can. And don’t view your state’s required number of driving hours as a goal. View it as the very minimum, and go way beyond! Taking your teen practice driving in the rain might seem odd, but it will give them tons more confidence for when they must do it alone. And once your teen is driving independently, Mentor is the peace of mind you need that they’re sticking to the rules of the road and maintaining the good driving habits that you’ve helped to shape.
Get a head start: Download Mentor for Families to help track your teen’s progress during the supervised driving practice period.
Learn more about Mentor for Families by eDriving:
- Read how Mentor provides “Driving guidance for your teen when you can’t be there” on DriversEd.com
- Read “Mentor for Families: From fleet solution to consumer necessity” on the eDriving Newsroom
- Learn more details about Mentor and get the app
Congratulations on passing your driving test! Obtaining a driver’s license provides a lot of freedom and flexibility to do more of what you want to do. But that freedom comes with a lot of responsibility because being on the road puts other people’s safety, and sometimes their lives, in your hands. How can you continue improving your driving skills beyond the driving test, and beyond trial and error?
Driving is about skills and habits
While studying for your driving test, you had to learn about traffic rules and the procedures involved in handling a vehicle. You had the opportunity to practice these skills during your provisional license so that you could learn them well enough to pass your driving test.
But like any new skill, driving well takes practice so that the rules and procedures become ingrained—they become habits. Eventually, you won’t even conscientiously think about the maneuvers you’ll make on the road. But before then, you need to develop good habits.
A new app from eDriving, called Mentor for Families by eDriving, can help you do that.
Tracking and training for ongoing improvement
The Mentor for Families app downloads onto any smartphone, tablet, or computer and tracks and rates your driving habits based on six risky behaviors, including:
- Distracted driving
- Rapid acceleration
- Phone usage
The idea is to track the behaviors around driving, which extend beyond skills and knowledge of the road, to build and reinforce good habits. It’s like having your own personal driving coach. Mentor collects data from each drive and provides a report and assessment, both per trip and trends over time. You’ll also get proactive prompts to reinforce certain skills, and encouragement when you’ve shown improvement.
Proof of better driving
By tracking your data over time and engaging in the process of improving your driving skills, you can demonstrate your responsibility behind the wheel using Mentor’s FICO® Safe Driving Score, which consolidates all your driving data into a single unit of measure.
Demonstrating an improved FICO® score might help convince your parents of allowing extra privileges, such as staying out an extra hour or taking the car for a weekend camping trip. Your FICO® score might also come in handy if you end up in a fender bender and need to help convince your insurance provider that you are an overall safe driver.
Improving your FICO® score might also provide a few bragging rights among your friends. Who has the highest score?
Small investment, safe rewards
Improving your driving skills is good all around, ranging from reduced risk of accidents to getting more driving privileges. But it can also provide new drivers with more encouragement and confidence while they’re still getting comfortable behind the wheel.
Download Mentor for Families today to start building your skills and tracking your improvement. You’ll learn faster, be able to track your progress, and be a safer driver.
Learn more about Mentor for Families by eDriving:
- Read how Mentor provides “Driving guidance for your teen when you can’t be there” on DriversEd.com
- Read “Mentor for Families: From fleet solution to consumer necessity” on the eDriving Newsroom
- Learn more details about Mentor and get the app
Your teen passed their driving test, congratulations! But, wait a minute. While your teen might have mastered parallel parking, have they also developed good judgement? Are they making good choices? Can you feel comfortable letting them drive other family members around?
Every parent wants to ensure that their teen is safe behind the wheel, but not every parent has the time to provide ongoing coaching beyond the permit process. Mentor for Families by eDriving, is a new mobile app that allows you to stay involved with your teen’s driving when you can’t be there in person.
Mentor for Families can be downloaded to iOS or Android smartphones to track your teen’s driving habits and provide proactive feedback on maintaining responsible behaviors. Mentor goes beyond the skills involved in driving to focus instead on the choices drivers make based on their overall attitude.
Developing good habits
All drivers, especially newer drivers, need some reminders to keep them aware and responsible of their driving habits, and the first year behind the wheel is when those habits are setting in.
When your teen driver appears to be making a bad choice or repeating a bad habit, Mentor doesn’t just track the behavior, it proactively warns your teen of the consequences—just like you would if you were in the car with them. When your teen is maintaining good driving habits, Mentor supports them with positive reinforcement.
Parents can stay involved with their teen’s driver coaching by logging into the web app to see how their teen did throughout the day and over time.
Research backed and data driven
To help develop good driving habits, Mentor relies on best practices drawn from the most effective models in weight-loss, fitness and behavioral change programs. Mentor combines these models with the research-backed driver improvement approaches eDriving has developed and proven through Fortune 150 clients worldwide over two decades.
To make driving improvement simple, Mentor collects driver data for each trip and over time to build an overall FICO® Safe Driving Score. This allows you and your teen to track progress and set goals. Mentor helps increase the FICO® score by providing customized “playlists” of interactive training interventions, tips, reminders and progress reports based on which habits your teen needs to improve.
Set goals and enjoy peace of mind
Mentor provides neutral coaching to help your teen develop good driving habits while also providing you some visibility into how your teen is doing out on the road. You can relax a little—and probably avoid a few bickering sessions by you not having to “nag” your teen about their driving.
Mentor’s FICO® score also allows you to set some goals for improving and then maintaining good driving habits. Perhaps you can identify a reward for when your teen reaches or maintains a certain FICO® score. Or turn it into a game to see which drivers in your family are the safest and who “wins” by having the highest FICO® score (maybe the winner gets to drive everyone to an ice cream outing).
Busy parents certainly aren’t too busy to still worry. Using Mentor for Families not only helps your teen ingrain good driving behaviors; it also provides a way for you to stay connected with your kid on the road so you can have some peace of mind.
It’s a classic Catch 22 that all new drivers face: In order to gain more driving privileges, you need to prove you are responsible; but you can only prove you’re responsible by being able to drive. How can younger drivers convince their parents that they’re staying safe behind the wheel? The new Mentor for Families by eDriving app might be able to help you out.
Mentor for Families tracks and analyzes your driving habits and provides personalized feedback and tips. It’s like your personal driving coach.
Feedback based on your data
Mentor for Families tracks data on each trip you take, as well as analyzes trends over time. To help build skills and reinforce good habits, Mentor proactively chimes in with tips and reminders based on how you’re driving. It’s fun, friendly, and adds an element of healthy competition to developing good driving habits.
You’ll also receive personalized recommendations for training modules that target skills you need to improve, all available within the app.
A single score to show progress
Mentor consolidates all of your driving data into a single unit of measure called your FICO® Safe Driving Score. You can also track improvement in single skill areas. The idea is to provide a framework for tracking your progress, which will be much more convincing to your parents than your friends’ validation or the fact that you haven’t been in an accident yet.
Demonstrating an improved FICO® Safe Driving Score might help convince your parents to allow extra privileges, such as staying out an extra hour or taking the car for a weekend camping trip. Your FICO® Safe Driving Score might also come in handy if you end up in a fender bender and need to help convince your insurance provider that you are an overall safe driver.
Help to earn your car keys
It’s not always easy for parents to feel comfortable handing over the keys to the family vehicle. They know that learning to drive well takes time. They also know from direct experience how dangerous the roads can be and how many bad drivers are out there. Mentor can help you convince your parents that you’re not one of those bad drivers.
Download Mentor for Families today to track, measure, progress, and get on the road (safely!) as soon as possible.
DriversEd.com teen blogger Jett Roberts, 16, is a student at Bishop O’ Dowd High School in Oakland, California. Jett is working toward obtaining his drivers license and currently drives under adult supervision with a California permit.
eDriving, the parent company of DriversEd.com, has released a new app, Mentor for Families by eDriving, which tracks your driving trips and provides feedback on your driving performance. I found it very useful over the past week of testing and would recommend it to all my readers. This new service will help you learn where you can improve, and will make you the excellent driver your parents crave.
Once you’ve downloaded and logged into the app, it connects to your phone’s GPS to track where you (or whoever is driving the car) go when you drive. While you’re in the car it keeps track of everything you do and records a detailed synopsis of all your driving maneuvers. It tracks and provides feedback on things like hard braking, acceleration rate, speed (including if you go over the speed limit), taking corners too hard, and notes when your phone is being used while the car is in motion (which it shouldn’t be!).
Here are some of the key features I particularly liked:
Tracking my driving time: Since I’ve been driving with my permit I’ve kept a little notepad on my phone with a record of my driving, but this app is automated. It tracks day and time and the duration of your drive. Better yet, it is a cumulative total for those of us (like me) who need to accrue “X” amount of hours behind the wheel before I can get my license. According to the state of California, I will need 50 hours of driving to get my license, including 10 hours of nighttime driving. And Mentor is going to keep track of that time for me!
- Quality of drive: After downloading the app, I used it first with someone else driving to measure the quality of the driving experience. As I mentioned, it gave input on things like the quality of stops (smoothness), how well the driver takes curves, and speed limit violations. On a drive into San Francisco it told my Mom, who was driving, that she had exceeded the speed limit 5 times (you can click on a map to find out exactly where on the route that happened) and that she had “smooth maneuvers” another 5 times. You should have seen the look on her face when I told her this! Also, it said she had braked too abruptly once.
- Scores key qualities of the driving experience: The app will assign a score to each of your drives, and compares that total and your progress to other drivers using the app in your state and country. You can set stretch goals, or your parents could even set a goal you must hit before you can get your license. In the meantime, Mentor also sets a goal for your driving score. For example, my goal is 850, and right now I have 768. I’m lobbying to get my license once I hit that 850 mark!
- Shows you exactly where you made your mistakes: When you go to the “trips” tab and click on the desired trip, it shows you the exact time and place of your error. It also does this for your smooth maneuvers. This feature helps you appreciate your strengths and fix your weak spots while you drive.
Other things it can do:
- Shows you how you stack up on your driving technique
- Counts how many trips you take
- Counts how many miles you have driven
Getting the app
DriversEd.com offers Mentor for Families through Apple and Google’s app stores.
Overall, I would rate this app with 5 stars. If you are new to driving, I think you are going to really like it!
Learn more about Mentor for Families:
DriversEd.com Contributing Writer Alexis David has kept an ongoing diary for us as she takes our California online drivers ed course. Here’s her sixth entry.
The end of summer arrives faster than any kid would hope. School begins, and that means so much more activity, schoolwork, and staying up late to finish homework. How do students like us, especially high school students who are taking driver’s ed, fit it all into our schedules?
As a student athlete, my day is already more action-packed than I need it to be. First it’s school, after school is practice or a game, and I still have homework. Even on weekends, I’m helping out at my church or doing my share of chores around the house. So, as you can imagine, it’s more inconvenient to find the right time to learn how to drive. What I’m going to do is use my weekends to drive. My weekends are more of a free time, so I can ask my parents to come drive with me if they’re not busy themselves. I’d like to drive whenever I can because I know with driving, you have to be consistent with it. I want to be accustomed to driving and remember how to control my vehicle. The more I practice, the better I get!
Over the course of the summer I’ve learned what being a driver takes. Driving requires being patient with others, never taking long to decide, no hesitation, and awareness. I’ve learned how to start up the car, how to stop, how to make u-turns, and how to parallel park. I can’t wait to learn more as I become more experienced. I keep telling myself that with more studying and practicing, the better I am to become a great driver; and it really paid off when taking my permit test and driving! I’ll keep training until I’m confident in my driving expertise and that I’m doing it safely.
The difference between driving in summer and driving during the school year is that in summer, I’ve had so much free time to drive. And like I’ve stated before, my days are already busy. Not only my schedule, but during school days, there are more drivers picking up or dropping off students; even after school. The roads are more frantic, and while I’m still practicing how to make simple maneuvers, I’d prefer learning at my own pace without having to worry. Another thing I’m worried about is having to be pressured to show people my driving skills. I don’t want to be persuaded into making a mistake when I’m still learning, and I definitely don’t want to risk others’ safety. I’ll become competent in driving so I can be safe on the road.
As I train as a driver, I’ll be expanding my knowledge in school. This year, I’ll be a sophomore in high school. I’m excited to see my friends again, learn what classes I’ll be in, and what I’ll be learning. I can’t wait for future events throughout the school year like spirit weeks and college trips. I’m also incredibly eager to start my volleyball and basketball seasons up again and get better at both of those sports. I also want to find out how my classmates are doing while they’re learning how to drive. We’re all 15 or becoming 15, and that’s around the age when teenagers start learning how to drive. I already know some of my friends received their permit and I know some who are taking the course; I always suggest taking driver’s ed through DriversEd.com! I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll get my license and be able to take my sister to school, grab lunch with friends, and help my parents with errands. For now, I’m just looking forward to the days I can practice my driving and make my parents proud of how far I’ve come.
I love summer and everything it has to offer, but I’m kind of glad to get back to school so I have something to do that’ll benefit me. Hopefully I can learn to drive just as easy as how I can finish my schoolwork. And good luck in school if you’re a student!
Learn more about DriversEd.com:
- How Does DriversEd.com Develop the Best Online Drivers Ed Courses? on DriversEd.com
- The End of Daylight Savings Brings New Driving Dangers on IDriveSafely.com
- Parents: Enroll your teenager in DriversEd.com’s Online Teen Drivers Education
Parents, as you plan your teen’s upcoming school year, are you factoring at least eight hours of sleep into their routines? Sure, you’re buying school supplies and shopping for healthy lunches, but are you considering how their workloads and schedules will affect their quality of sleep, and thus, their safety behind the wheel?
Sleep deprivation has become so much of a deadly, national epidemic that it was the subject of an Aug. 23 webinar hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), entitled “Wake Up to Teen Drowsy Driving: Don’t Send Them Back to School in Debt.”
“When young people do not get enough quality sleep, they begin to accumulate ‘sleep debt,’” said Jana Price, PhD, a senior human performance investigator with the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety. “This can result from a late night of studying, getting up early for sports practice, or fragmenting sleep by using a cell phone during the night. Sleep debt accumulates over time and, ultimately, can affect a person’s ability to think and perform, or safely operate a vehicle—this deficit, while a concern for all humans, is particularly risky for teens. Sleep debt is linked to high-risk behaviors, such as texting while driving, drinking and driving, and not wearing a seat belt.”
We know that crash rates rise with every hour of lost sleep. In fact, 17 consecutive hours of wakefulness causes a level of performance impairment equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of .05%. And whereas earlier research concluded that exercise, diet, and sleep comprised the recommended “triad of health” for teens, recent work and events have altered that prioritization.
“We really need to think of sleep in a different context,” said Terry Cralle, a nurse and certified clinical sleep educator who also served as a panelist on the NTSB webinar. “Sleep is now the foundation of health and wellness.”
Early school start times, work schedules, technology use, homework, extracurricular activities, and medical disorders all put teens at risk for sleep deprivation, which is why their sleep durations must be protected at all costs, Cralle said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend teens get at least eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, though its research found that only two-thirds of high school students reported getting on average only 7 hours of sleep each night.
“Here’s a scary thought: When our performance degrades with sleep deprivation, we tend to not see it,” she said. “Saying ‘I’m doing fine,’ is a tricky thing that affects our judgement on how we’re doing and how sleepy we are.”
Educating teens to recognize the warning signs of sleep deprivation is also vital, the panel said during the webinar. While individuals who have consumed alcoholic drinks realize the warning signs that tell them not to drive, the same sort of realization must occur among adults – and teens – who feel sleep deprived but are still ready to get behind the wheel.
“People who are sleep deprived are saying they’re absolutely fine to drive, but they’re absolutely not fine to drive,” Cralle said.
The webinar cited several examples of how sleep deprivation has played a role in vehicle incidents with teen drivers. One of which occurred on March 20, 2016, as four teens were traveling home from a weekend trip in south Texas. The driver’s three passengers did not survive the incident.
“At about 1:57 p.m. the driver crossed the center median, lost control of the car, entered the opposing lanes of traffic, and collided with a truck-tractor semitrailer,” Price said. “The driver was seriously injured and her three passengers died. NTSB investigators learned that, in the 24 hours before the crash, the driver had very little opportunity for sleep – only about 5 hours on the morning of the crash. The crash also happened at a time of day when most people commonly experience a dip in alertness and performance; in fact, the three passengers in the car were all either asleep or dozing at the time of the crash. We determined that that the driver’s loss of control was due to inattention resulting from her fatigue.
“What I think is interesting about this, is that teens know you shouldn’t drink and drive,” she continued. “But they don’t think about the sleep deprivation part. It makes me very sad to think these teens who thought they were choosing the right path, still ended up in a tragedy.”
Parents, here are four steps you can take now to enforce healthy sleeping habits among your teens:
- Create a good environment for sleep. Restrict mobile device use to common areas – outside of your teen’s bedroom – and ask your teen to power down an hour or two before bed.
- Advocate for later school start times. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a teen’s school day should ideally begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
- Teach your young driver that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk, drugged, or distracted driving.
- Make other transportation plans if your teen needs to make an early-morning or late-night event. Do not let your teen drive during those times, as they are when sleep normally occurs.
Read more on fatigue and drowsy driving from eDriving’s driver’s ed and driver improvement websites:
- The End of Daylight Savings Brings New Driving Dangers on IDriveSafely.com
- Drowsy Driving: Don’t Be a Victim on DriversEd.com
- Asleep at the Wheel: The Dangers of Drowsy Driving on IDriveSafely.com