Joe Fitzgerald is a former Traffic Crash Reconstruction Expert and currently owns and operates Southeastern Driver Training Center. Joe has been recognized as an expert witness in the following fields: Traffic Crash Reconstruction, The Streets and Highways of Wilmington, NC, Impaired Driving, and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing.
Most parents can remember riding with their parents in the family car when they were young. They can remember playing games on long trips like I Spy or just watching the roadside scenery as it passed by. It didn’t seem like it then, but we were actually learning about driving while we were riding. We were learning street names, landmarks, lane selection and how to handle different driving situations.

Now things have changed for kids. When riding in the car now with mom or dad, kids have tablets and smart phones to hold their attention. The result, kids are less prepared to drive than we (parents) were at that age simply because they’re not watching what is happening around them. This is especially concerning when you consider the roads seem more dangerous than ever.

How many times have you heard the phrase “watch and learn”? Probably hundreds of times. That’s because there is a lot of truth behind that phrase. We learn when we watch how something is done. Whether it’s done really well or really poorly, we learn by watching. That’s why it’s extremely important that parents set a good example driving and try to limit their child’s device time when riding in the car. Parents should also talk to their children about what they are doing and looking at while they’re driving and give driving tips.

Parents are the greatest influence on how their child drives. Kids are in the classroom for 30 hours and behind the wheel for six hours in Drivers Ed but they spend much more time riding with their parents. Parents, if you want to help prepare your child to drive, start training them young by talking to them about driving and setting a good example.

Joe Fitzgerald
Southeastern Driver Training Center