Drivers’ education programs that include Reality Education for Drivers (RED), and that show real-world consequences of risky driving behaviors like texting, talking on the phone, speeding and more, may be more effective to teach teen drivers about the road than traditional public service announcements and education programs. A small-scale study at Texas’ Baylor University preliminarily found that teens who toured morgues, hospital wards and emergency rooms to see the real-life impact of motor vehicle crashes had a better understanding of the potential cost of risky driving behaviors.
According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of accidental death amongst teenagers, accounting for one out of every three fatalities. The hope is that advanced driver education programs like ones including RED components will teach teens about the need for driving safely by showing them what happens, including all the gory and morbid details, to unsafe drivers.
As part of this study, teens completed a survey which revealed the true extent of their risky driving behaviors. Ninety percent of the teen drivers reported talking on the phone while driving in the 30 days prior to their RED course, and 81 percent admitted to texting behind the wheel. Obviously, these are some of the most dangerous driving behaviors, right up there with driving while intoxicated and driving while fatigued.
If having teens see the real-world consequences of their driving actions can be helpful, it’s possible that RED components will be incorporated into more driver education programs across Maryland and around the country.