Using Racing Drivers to Teach Safe Driving can be a Bad Mistake!
It may seem very logical that race drivers are "the most skilled drivers in the
world" but this creates serious problems
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Other Bad Advice, Myths and Mistakes
about Safe Driving
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It is a common belief
that because young people look up to their sporting idols it will be both
exciting and beneficial for teens to learn about safe driving from race drivers
but, beyond getting the youths' attention, this is a highly-questionable
approach. Similarly, experienced drivers doing defensive driving courses
have nothing to gain even from learning "evasive" driving skills or from skid
pad training, and the research-proven reasons for this are outlined below.
imagine that you are taking your family on vacation to Hawaii or some
other wonderful destination. You are on an immaculate Boeing 777 and are
being pushed back from the gate at Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles or
wherever when the pilot's voice comes over the loudspeakers and he says:
folks. Welcome to United 123 to Honolulu. My name is Johnny Rocket and
I'm your captain for this flight. Actually, I'm a fighter pilot but I
thought I'd try this today!"
probably fair to say that there would likely be some concern among the
passengers if the pilot really did say this!
But aren't fighter pilots some of the most skilled pilots in the air?
course, but it is not the right skill set to be flying a very different
vehicle in the "public" air lanes.
Aren't fighter pilots incredibly clever at what they do?
course, but for them to be flying commercial planes they have not
only the wrong skill-set, but also the wrong mind-set! If they want
to become airline pilots after leaving the military, it is necessary for
them to re-train completely.
some people will say this is an unfair comparison, but in real-life
terms it is arguably very appropriate indeed.
No matter how
good race drivers are at racing, research in the USA has shown that they
have more crashes than the average driver when driving on regular,
public roads. (See the research excerpt from
Naatanen and Summala
in the adjacent side-bar). How does this qualify them to teach you
perhaps more frighteningly
to teach your son or your daughter about safe driving?
several research programs have now shown that teaching any driver
specific, higher-level driving skills is at best a waste of time and, at
worst, actually encourages over-confidence which in turn can cause
Evidence shows that in the USA the highest skilled drivers
(registered race and rally car drivers) have a much higher crash rate than the
(Naatanen and Summala, 1976, as cited
The Road User: The Psychology of Road safety, Safe and Mobile:
Introductory Studies in Traffic Safety, p.22, Emu Press, Armidale.)
experiment, two different strategies for training have been compared
with regard to their influence on estimated and actual driving skill, as
well as the drivers' degree of overestimation of their own skill. One of
the strategies, used in the "skill" group was to make the learner as
skilled as possible in handling a braking and avoidance manoeuvre in a critical situation. The other
strategy, used in the "insight" group was to make the driver aware of the fact
that his own skill in braking and avoidance in critical situations may be
limited and unpredictable
The "skill" group estimated their skill higher than
the "insight" group. [But] No difference was found between the groups regarding their
actual skill. The results confirm the main hypothesis that the skill training
strategy produces more false overestimation [of ability] than the insight training strategy.
(1996), Young drivers' overestimation of their own skill an experiment on
the relation between training strategy and skill. Accid Anal Prev. 1996
Click on this link for more
research results showing why "skills" training can actually be a bad
Eddie Wren, chief
instructor at Advanced Drivers of America, says: "The problem is that the
physical aspects of driving are relatively simple. Other than people who are
very apprehensive (and there's nothing wrong with that!), virtually anybody can
quite quickly learn the basics of starting a car, moving off, making turns and
stopping. One might even go so far as to suggest that a well-trained chimpanzee
could probably be taught to start a car, move it across
an empty parking lot, stop it again, and turn the engine off!
the root of most car crashes lies in the fact that even though the physical
act of driving a car is comparatively very easy, it is a vastly more complex
matter to consistently drive a vehicle safely, on busy, or narrow,
or twisty, or badly-designed roads; in various weather conditions that can
radically affect not only the grip of the tires (the "coefficient of friction")
but also the visibility; with due regard to the engineering and inherent
un/safety of the vehicle in question; allowing for the actions of all other road
users and the presence of other random hazards such as animals; and finally
one must also take into account the personality, the knowledge-level, the
alertness and the state-of-mind of the actual driver. One of the major dangers
Around the world,
various surveys of drivers' attitudes have allegedly come produced very similar
results. Apparently, around 90 percent of drivers consider themselves to be
anywhere from "above average" to "excellent" as drivers but
statisticians might say above 90 percent being "above average" is a
Next, we come to
actual driving techniques.
There is a well-known
and well-founded belief in driver training which says that "as you drive, so
will you teach other people to drive." In other words, if you drive carefully,
using appropriate techniques, that is how you would teach someone else to drive,
but if you drive badly and use inappropriate methods, guess what!
Drivers in Trouble for Bad Attitude, and Bad Driving on the Streets of
29 March 2010
Formula 1 speed demons Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton have
copped a head-on blast from one of Australia's top state
traffic officials after their controversial off-track
performances at the weekend.
Hamilton had his Mercedes impounded on Friday night after
being caught by police doing burnouts in [Melbourne's] St
Hamilton was arrested and had his car impounded for the
hooning. Although the youngest-ever F1 champion apologised,
[his incident] came after five people died on
Victoria's roads at the weekend, putting the annual death
toll on track to become their highest in five years....
As the Australian State Government launched a ''Don't be a
dickhead'' road safety campaign, Webber's comments over
"nanny state'' road rules provoked a strong response from
top Victorian traffic policeman Ken Lay....
"I think what Mark Webber has done has been totally
irresponsible, but he didn't display the behaviour that
Lewis Hamilton did, and that put people's lives at risk,''
Mr Pallas said.
[an Australian] from Queanbeyan, NSW, where a family was
wiped out by a speeding car thief last week
said "ridiculous'' road rules were creating a nanny state
and driving in Australia ''pisses me off''.
Today, Deputy Commissioner Lay said... ''We've got probably
one of the best road-safety track-records in the world, so I
make no apology for our aggressive approach...
''I think there's probably a few Lewis Hamilton and Mark
Webber fans alive today because of our 'nanny state'
approach ... I think Mark needs to take a bit of
responsibility for the road safety message.''
He said many young drivers looked up to Webber and Hamilton
and they should use that influence to spread the road safety
''I'd much prefer Mark to be talking about keeping the
speeding and the hooning on the race track and being a bit
sensible on our roads,'' he said.
Webber said that, after his return from Europe he had been
''dodging the ridiculous speeding and parking [rules] and
all the nanny-state country that we have down here in
''It's a great country, but we've got to be responsible for
our actions and it's certainly a bloody nanny state when it
comes to what we can do,'' Webber said before yesterday's
''I think we've got to read an instruction book when we get
out of bed
what we can do and what we can't do
put a yellow vest on
and all that sort of stuff,'' he said.
Source: Stuff NZ
So, what are
the techniques that race drivers use which should never be taught for
use on public roads?
commonest and most pervasive aspects are skid pad training and
evasive maneuvers such as swerving at the last moment to miss an
unanticipated crisis such as a vehicle pulling out in front of you. They
sound perfectly logical, don't they? The writer of this article
certainly used to think so. But research has proven that not only are
these techniques unwise but they can actually cause more danger
and not less. This is such an
important and serious topic that it has its own web page, here.
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The "Apexing" of Curves
"Fixed Input Steering"
"Heel and Toe" Braking
"Drafting" or "Slipstreaming"
The belief that good driving is reactive rather than pro-active
A competitive attitude, even if not mentioned!