5 Things Your Kids Won't Learn in Drivers' Ed — But Should
Automation is making our cars safer. But are we losing basic driving skills as a result?
On June 1, 2009, Air France Flight 447 fell into the Atlantic Ocean on a routine overnight flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, killing all 228 passengers on board. While the cause of the crash is still under investigation, here is what Federal Aviation Administration investigators think unfolded on that fateful night.
Four hours into the flight, the Airbus A330 experienced turbulence and extreme icing, causing its speed sensors to malfunction and stop transmitting critical information to the plane's automatic pilot, which apparently caused the plane to slow down. The pilots in the cockpit shut off the autopilot before the plane stalled. Unfortunately, they were as blind and confused as the autopilot. Rather than increase the plane's speed and thus lift, they apparently slowed the plane even further, a move contrary to basic rules of flight. As a result, the plane began to stall and plummeted to the sea.
If this course of events is true, it raises a question: How could seasoned pilots for a top airline, flying one of the industry's most advanced jets, not know how to regain control of the stalling aircraft? Investigators concluded that modern airline pilots spend so much time minding automated systems and so little time actually flying that some are not up to the task of piloting a plane when the automation fails.
So why are we telling you about Flight 447 in a story that is supposed to be about automobiles? It's a warning: We fear that car drivers, pilots of the roadways, are becoming too reliant on automated systems and have let their driving skills lapse, and even worse, that our kids will never know how to drive without these systems.
While not as automated as airplanes, cars are clearly becoming increasingly computerized. These computers have input in controlling everything from braking to navigation to traction. Anti-lock braking systems keep us from braking too hard. Traction control keeps us from skidding out. Adaptive cruise control makes sure our vehicles automatically maintain speed and slow the vehicle when it comes too close to the vehicle in front. And these are only a few of the technologies that automakers are working on to make vehicles safer. Their efforts are paying off; vehicle-related fatalities are at an all-time low.
However, what happens when these automated systems fail? Will we — or, more importantly, will our children — be up to piloting an automobile without all the high-tech bells and whistles?
Frankly, we don't know. So, just what skills are in danger of disappearing? Here, we list five driving skills that are very important but that are becoming increasingly unnecessary.
Fewer than 10 percent of new cars sold have clutch pedals, and driver's education courses haven't featured manual transmissions in their cars for decades. Consequently, the chances that a driver will encounter a manual transmission along with someone willing to teach them how to use it are growing rare. Even the Richard Petty Driving Experience, a NASCAR-themed driving school, has found it necessary to push-start patrons so they can take off in fourth gear for their oval-lapping fun.
It's a shame, really. Manual transmissions provide unexcelled vehicle control. But probably their greatest benefit is that they more thoroughly involve the driver with what he or she is supposed to be doing: driving. It doesn't take a behavioral scientist to conclude that a more engaged driver is a safer driver.
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My 15 y/o son is being taught to drive by me after he went through school required drivers ed.
Now, I'm teaching him to drive stick, stop with a vehicle with no ABS or traction control, controlling a vehicle when the rear end kicks out and use of peddle (gas brake control) two handed driving best of all. How to actually listen to your vehicle.
Lets also not forget what kids are not being taught.
1. Checking tire pressure weekly.
2. Checking oil levels
3. Learning how to change a flat tire
4. The ability to read the conditions around you. ( ice on road, did it just lightly rain, so watch got slick pavement and such...
I will agree, vehicles today are far mnore safer, but there's one thing that hasn't changed over the years and that's the mindset of a teenage girl or boy that just got their license.
First are you even going to come close to stopping in time and what direction will you take if you can't . Sometimes this is a life and death decision for the driver and everyone around him. Back in the glory days of driving ( long past ) many drivers choose to kill themselves rather than innocent people.
Second which way is the trailer going. Usually to the right or low side of road but that can change each time you reapply the brakes. Lots of quick decisions to make here too.
Third is you load gonna shift or are you going to lose it and there are many other decisions depending on circumstances and conditions that have to be made in 2 or 3 short seconds that most drivers have no experience at, other than what they were taught at some truck driving school in 3 or 4 weeks.
Now for cars and trucks ever notice how people approach stop signs and red lights at ridiculous speed . Back in the day you slowed down and and checked you brakes before you had to stop just in case some or all of them were not working.
I will cut this short with the mention of my pet peeve. FOG LIGHTS .Fog lights are like snow chains if you need them you should get off the road. While there or some rare circumstances where they might help. At any speed over 35 mph you are over driving your lights. Your eyes should be adjusted to the dim forward area of your low beams and if you think you see something hit the high beams and the brakes. This applies to cars and trucks. I have had truck drivers tell me they can see the deer coming out of the woods sooner with fog lights. Anything that you see while running at speed with fog lights it is already too late to do anything about . You will just have a more serious accident trying to dodge something you are going to hit any way. If you want to gauge the experience off the truck driver you are sharing the road with just notice if he has his fog lights on. If he does he has no clue about what he is doing or he needs new glasses and maybe has just been barely getting thru the eye exam. I personally know one driver who is afraid he wont pass his next physical because one of his eyes is so bad . Yes he runs fog lights all the time has to just to see to stay on the road and yes he collected a deer not long ago too. Plus if you are blinding oncoming traffic especially on a wet road are you really any safer ?
While I never learned a standard,I will soon. And my son will learn as well when he's of age. No matter what he will learn proper driving. Of course kids, drive too fast sometimes, and usually have fender benders. But that only adds to the learning. What matters is they know how to handle themselves to prevent serious accidents, which could have been avoided. (put down the phone). I had a cpl myself as a kid, And had been taught proper skid control even saved my life. Some times there are those situations which are beyond your control, but knowing what to do will save a life.
I took driver's ed back in th e70s as well. Two hours a week in the class room and 1 hr a week behind the wheel for a full term in High School. I still apply what I learned then to today's driving except for the 10 & 2 is now 9 & 3 because of air bags.
How many of you use your turn signal each and every time you make a turn weather there anyone in sight or not? How many of you buckle up each and everytime before you start the car no matter how far you are driving.
Driving skills are a learned behavior. If your kids saw you not buckle or use your turn signal, chances are they won't either.
Being a safety professional nothing bothers me worse than seeing people playing russian roulette behind the wheel with other people's lifes
Also, - How much money does(did) it cost?
Try teaching basic rules of the road first. I believe all these kids have no clue as to behind the wheel courtesy and that is not taught either. It chafes my **** is to see these kids in such a hurry that they pay no attention to stop signs in residential areas. The driver ed teachers I see today are not dedicated to teaching anything of value to these new drivers. They are only collecting a check!
Don't even start on emergency driving in adverse conditions. I know most folks may not be able to afford it but take your teen to a teenage defensive driving course taught by pros. I had the advantage of teaching my daughter emergency maneuvers on a closed course track plus got her interested in club sponsored autocross. My only hope is that these skills will save her life one day.