Drivers Education sure has evolved since I took it back in the late 80’s. I’ve had the pleasure working with DriveTeam for a long time now, with my youngest just finishing up their teen program called “Performance Based Driver Education” The difference between DriveTeam and their competition is their customized curriculum that goes above and beyond state requirements. The secret sauce is holding the parents accountable in their teen’s training. DriveTeam requires the parent to spend 100 hours driving with your teen. Think about that for a second… 100 hours is a lot of driving.
At first, it was pretty overwhelming, but the DriveTeam Instructors broke the learning process down, and also let us ride through their private vehicle dynamics course the teens learn on. The program kicks off with a 2-Day Skills Weekend, and the teens get hands-on training on the driving range for nearly 14-16 hours. After the initial weekend, that’s where it’s the parents job to continue the momentum.
The way I mapped it out with Carter was creating a consistent driving schedule with him. At least one day during the week, and usually back-to-back driving days on the weekends. We would keep it to about 3 hours of driving, with stopping, stretching each hour. After the first couple of drives I could tell Carter’s driving skills advancing pretty quickly. We were hitting residential and rural roads mostly. One take away from these “100 hours”, it provides a time to sort of un-plug from both of your days normal schedules. So it was great just having conversations with your teen. A lot of the conversations were about driving, and driving scenarios, or providing instances when other drivers are not following the rules. Through this process, it made me aware on how distracted drivers really are now. I’ve never witnessed more cars swerving left of center in my life, which usually involves a smartphone in their hand.
City Streets & Downtown
When we were driving in residential areas we spent a lot of time focusing on turning left, right and controlling the car’s speed. We did a ton of backing in and out of driveways using mirrors and noticing where the blind spots are. Rural driving allowed Carter to work on good lane positions, sign comprehension, speed adjustments, and learning all these places in the country by our home town. For city streets, we would drive down to Akron, Ohio usually. Intersections, lane changes were the biggest adjustment I noticed Carter dealing with. With the environment speeding up around the car, it made his decision making that much more important. Proper spacing was another important factor when driving in the city, there was a lot of unpredictable changes with traffic so maintaining that 3 second spacing while moving was crucial. While driving on the highway, we worked on lane positions, signs, correct speed, and starting getting into mapping routes. The deeper we got into those 100 hours, we started to look forward exploring new areas every week.
I know this can be a controversial topic with how distracting they can be, but I believe the phone can be an extension of the dashboard. As we started planning our routes, we used the driving app Waze, which is powered by Google Maps. When the app is open, it forces the teen driver to view the device as a map, not the social device it usually is. Waze provides insights from other drivers in real time, which reduces traffic, keeping people safe, and making roads better for travel. For the dashboard mount, we use the Belkin Car Mount Vent. It’s simple, secure, and clips right into the vent. I know some parents don’t want the phone anywhere near their teen, but my thought is to teach them how to leverage the technology to their advantage in the safest way possible.
While you’re on this epic driving journey with your teen, they also are doing their 6 in-car lessons with a DriveTeam Instructor. They want at least 10 hours of driving in between in-cars with your teen. The in-cars help parents out in terms of getting that feedback from DriveTeam regarding your teen’s driving strengths and weaknesses. It all comes full circle to that term “Performance Based”.
When we were getting into the “70s” hours of driving, I felt like I had my own Uber driver or something. The progress the teen makes with this much hands-on training is unmatched in the State of Ohio. Along with the skill level increasing, I noticed Carter’s overall confidence was increasing as well. DriveTeam uses specific words that connect the dots to safer driving. Knowledge, Skills, and Decision Making are three words I’ll never forget… In fact, if you apply those words to your everyday life, I think karma will be on your side more times than not.
As we concluded our 100 hours together, it really brought me peace of mind knowing how much work Carter put into his driver training, and I got to witness it hands-on. From all the driveways, side streets, highways, parking lots, city streets, to the country I know DriveTeam put Carter in the best position as he enters a new chapter into his life. Carter it was a pleasure riding shotgun with you all those hours 🙂
Carter is Road Ready.