What I learned on my Florida ‘vacation’
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, November 18 2016
The Driving Schools Association of the Americas Convention was held in Boca Rotan, Florida, last week.
Hundreds of driving school owners and instructors from North America got to participate in topnotch professional development.
Here are some of the things I learned:
The first thing I noticed while driving from the airport to the convention in Boca Raton was the vast number of vehicles that did not have the headlights illuminated.
Unlike in Canada, the mandatory front running-light legislation was not passed until a few years ago in the United States.
Large transport trucks are restricted to the two right-hand lanes of a four-lane (in one direction) freeway.
Motorcyclists and cyclists are not required to wear helmets.
Several jurisdictions in the U.S. have now allowed motorcyclists to proceed at intersections when the traffic light is red.
It is called the “ride on red” rule, when the motorcycle doesn’t have sufficient metal mass to activate the road sensors that would normally be activated by other larger motor vehicles.
Of course, the way must be clear for the motorcycle rider to proceed at the solid red light.
Many other states are allowing bicycle riders to do the same.
The topic of teen self-evaluation was a real eye-opener.
The self-rating of their own driving performance was measured by psychologists.
The teens were asked to rate themselves by choosing one of four categories offered.
The categories of driving self-rating were “Safe — good driver,” “Safe — not good,” “Not safe — not good,” and finally “Not safe — good.”
Take a good look at the four categories and try to guess which one was found to be by far the largest crash-ridden group.
By the way, the study involved several thousand teens.
If you picked the fourth option, you would be correct.
The seemingly strange result was exactly the same when seniors were given the same choices in a parallel study.
The researchers have now concluded that age is not the biggest factor in predicting crash rates, but rather one’s self-rating.
Curious, indeed. It seemed to raise more questions than answers among the attendees at the conference.
Drivers impaired by alcohol are often guilty of driving well above the speed limit. In fact, this is how the police are able to easily identify them.
Conversely, those impaired by marijuana are often seen to be driving well below the speed limit and are equally easy to identify.
Some jurisdictions south of the border have tacked on an additional $5 charge to every traffic ticket issued.
This additional amount is dedicated to driver education within the state.
Teens are believed to be much safer driving front-wheel-drive vehicles as their first vehicle.
There is a belief that they are much more likely to lose control in a rear-drive vehicle, particularly if the RWD is rich in horsepower.
Until very recently, vehicle crashes have been responsible for the greatest number of accidental teen deaths.
The drug fentanyl is now poised to surpass or has already surpassed vehicle crashes in many jurisdictions as the chief cause of accidental death among teens.
Senior drivers were a hot topic as well.
Their most confusing roadway configuration was the dreaded roundabout.
A disproportionately high number of senior crashes occur in parking lots.
Some driving schools are actually recommending seniors avoid reserved handicapped spaces, unless they have a severe physical disability.
Because these spaces are close to busy areas of the mall parking lots, there is a greater chance of having a mishap when seniors use them.
Why are middle-aged drivers the safest on the road? They have the lowest crash rate.
Some believe it is because they get a “refresher” from teaching their teens. Watch for more on the convention in next week’s column.