My 6-year old has been parallel parking his six-foot, pedal-powered tractor for close to a year. He can also maneuver around his younger, slower cousins, patio support beams, and scattered debris while pedaling in reverse. It’s an impressive start for a boy who’s learning to develop hand/eye-dexterity and vehicle-size awareness, but it brings to mind an important question concerning the state of driver education today: Why are our teen drivers not more skilled and not more prepared for the open road?
In honor of National Teen Driving Safety Week, State Farm Insurance Company and Mercedes-Benz kicked off new teen-driving safety websites this week, one featuring 80′s teen heartthrob Ralph Macchio, and the other, for a world-class driving academy in one of the nation’s busiest metropolitan areas.
Yep, leave it to an insurance company and an elite auto manufacturer to do what parents should already be doing: Teaching their children how to drive. We can blame video games, cell phones, teach-to-the-test driver’s education, and the Department of Motor vehicles for failing today’s teen drivers, but State Farm and Mercedes-Benz are actually doing something about it.
The State Farm teen safety website is free and features Road Trips tips and advice for parents, and videos of The Karate Kid teaching his son how to drive. Additionally, users can even enter for a chance to win a new Ford Focus.
Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, actually built a 4000-square foot driving facility in the heart of Los Angeles where teens and their parents learn from an integrated approach to driver education. The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy features veteran Los Angeles Police Department driving instructors, and several programs using internet instruction, scenario-based what-if’s, and real-world practice.
Automotive.com’s take: The State farm website is interesting, but ultimately, may not attract the attention of today’s distracted youth. And we wonder whether the parents who are too busy to teach their children themselves will have the time and patience to sit through the insurance giant’s content. Mercedes, though, doesn’t just dial it up a notch, but several notches, offering the kind of thought-provoking content and real-world application that the DMV should be doing. But, the MBZDA comes at a cost, and perhaps a cost that many won’t be able to approach.
Sources: State Farm, Mercedes-Benz