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Reality-based drivers’ ed and its effect on teen drivers

Louisiana parents concerned about giving car keys to their teenage children may take a page from the book of neighboring Texas. The Texas Reality Education for Drivers program is a drivers’ education supplement aimed at teens who are unsafe drivers. Besides traditional elements like lectures, videos and discussions, the program incorporates more interactive and reality-based components. According to a Baylor University study, these components are especially helpful in raising risk awareness.

The study focused on 21 teens who participated in the one-day, six-hour RED program. Set in a hospital, the program includes guided tours through emergency rooms, intensive care units and morgues as well as talks with medical staffers who treat car crash victims.

Many of the teens were referred to the program for disciplinary action by a court or school administrator while others were enrolled by their parents. A questionnaire before the program reveals that the most frequent form of risky behavior they engaged in was calling/texting while behind the wheel. Most were not aware that certain actions, such as driving on a freeway or having another teen in the car, can be considered unsafe.

However, the participants’ risk awareness noticeably went up after the program. In particular, they recognized the dangers of speeding and the role of peer influence on drinking while driving. Parental monitoring also increased after the program, with parents discussing the consequences of risky driving more openly.

So long as these reality-based elements remain a supplement, many teens will continue to act without much concern for safety. When negligence is behind a car accident, a personal injury claim may be warranted. The victim can hire a lawyer to negotiate for a fair settlement on their behalf.

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