Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations
Emergency situations are situations that require immediate action to regain control over the vehicle and/or that require immediate action to avoid a crash. Driver training that aims to enhance the skills to regain control in emergency situations such as skid training, evasive swerving and emergency lane changes has proven not to be effective. Moreover, there is a plenitude of evidence that crisis evasion courses can actually increase crash rates. However, driver training that aims to enhance risk-‐ awareness, self-‐awareness and the acceptance of low levels of risk can reduce the crash rates of young novice drivers. As driving is predominantly a self‐paced task, technically skilful drivers are not necessarily also safe drivers. A not too technically skilful driver (i.e. a driver who has moderate vehicle handling skills) who does not overestimate his or her capabilities and/or does not underestimate the risks, drives safer than a skilful driver who overestimates his or her capabilities and/or underestimates the risks.
The Driver Behaviour, Education, and Training Subcommittee has declared that training programs aimed at enhancing the skills to regain control in emergency situations should not be included in basic driver education or in advanced driver training programs; because, the learned skills in such training programs erode quickly, and such training programs result in more risk taking due to overconfidence. Basic driver education and advanced driver training should be aimed at improving the calibration skills of learner drivers and novice drivers. Well‐calibrated drivers can detect latent hazards in traffic situations, do not underestimate the likelihood that these hazards will cause their adverse effects (i.e. they are aware of the risks), and do not overestimate their own skills (i.e. they are aware of their own limitations).
The full paper is available here as a pdf:
Vlakveld, W. & Wren, E. (2014) Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations. International Road Federation (IRF), Washington, DC.
Corresponding author: Dr Willem Vlakveld, at SWOV.
See also: When Extra Driving Courses Are a Bad Idea (first posted in 2005)