Toyota teaching teens to drive defensively with Driving Expectations events
The free program, created by Toyota in 2004 and continued annually since then, allows teens to hone their driving capabilities beyond standard driver's education training. Toyota funds this, executives say, because the Japanese carmaker is "committed to road safety in hopes of reducing the rate of teen driving fatalities."
Toyota Driving Expectations is a 2.5-hour, one-day program that is "part of the company’s commitment to increase overall safety in driving, and protect the lives of teen drivers, who are at a higher risk for accidents than more experienced drivers," according to a statement on Toyota's media Web site.
“Toyota remains committed to making the driving experience as safe as possible. The company continually evaluates the safety features of our cars, but it’s also important to instill good driving habits at a young age. With Toyota Driving Expectations, Toyota hopes to empower teens, and change how they think and react while driving. Our goal is to equip them with the skills needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe on the road.”
More than 18,000 teens and their parents have learned how to drive defensively to stay alive when in danger and have learned for themselves through the training how everyday distractions can have fatal consequences.
Toyota Driving Expectations events are planned for these four locations next month:
1. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., in Torrance, Calif., Oct. 8-9.
2. Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash., Oct. 15-16.
3. Bass Pro Shops in Denver, Colo., Oct. 22-23.
4. Seymour High School in Seymour, Conn., Oct. 29-30.
Participants must be between the ages of 15-19 with a valid driver's license or learner's permit, and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Online registration for Toyota Driving Expectations events in Washington state and Colorado is open at www.toyotadrivingexpectations.com. The schools in California and Connecticut are by invitation only.
Auto crashes are the leading cause of death for teen-agers in America. They exceed 1 in 3 deaths in this age group, the Centers for Disease Control says. Eight teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from injuries sustained in car crashes in 2009 in the U.S. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely to crash than seasoned drivers.
The program puts teens into challenging real-world scenarios in a secure environment. Teens learn crash-avoidance techniques, how to focus on the road, how to identify a dangerous situation and how to respond to it. They see how distracted driving can be harmful and are taught the relationship between distraction and reaction time. They also learn technical information that explains safety features such as ABS and how they can be used when needed.
The reason Toyota wants a parent to attend the program with his or her teen-ager is to create an atmosphere that allows for an open conversation about safe driving habits. This lets a parent reinforce best driving practices in a friendly environment that will foster acceptance and learning.
Driving techniques are taught by professional drivers using curriculum approved by the National Safety Council, Defensive Driving Academy in California and others.
You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @HawkeFracassa.
Image source: Toyota