Pirelli World Challenge star Andy Pilgrim makes teens, parents better drivers

  • Jan 22, 2014
  • Pratt Miller

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Here’s another addend in the complex driver-training equation: Many parents influence their kids to become both a greater danger when driving and more susceptible to the actions of other poor drivers.

This influence begins long before kids are licensed to drive. Consider:

— “More than 75 percent of new drivers exhibit the same distracted driving behavior as their parents.”

— “Most parents are unaware they are teaching their kids things that will make them more dangerous to others and more vulnerable to others.”

— “Most parents want to protect their children and will make changes once they understand the realities of behavior transfer.”

These are the words of Andy Pilgrim, the same championship-winning sports-car driver who helped road-test editor Jonathan Wong thrash Porsche’s 911 GT3 and Chevrolet’s Camaro Z/28. Andy began speaking to high-school students about driver safety 20 years ago, and he has delved deep into the statistics, causes and effects that have led many to conclude that U.S. driver education is inadequate.

Distracted driving, in particular, is an epidemic. I’m genuinely surprised if the driver in the lane next to mine isn’t texting or otherwise fiddling with a phone. Most of the time, they are — and often with passengers who pick up on this behavior.

Through his Andy Pilgrim Foundation, Andy produced two videos for educators’ use: “The Driving Zone” and “The Driving Zone 2.” These DVDs cover topics like mental preparation for driving, explanation of distracted-driving issues and street-survival tools that are absent from most curricula. More than 10,000 driver-education teachers in 43 states use “The Driving Zone 2.”

Andy takes his educator role another step forward with the introduction of “The Parent Driving Zone.” Distracted driving is bad for all of us, but, as he says, “If a new driver with less than five years of experience drives with the same distractions and subsequent behavior as their parents, with none of their parents’ skill or experience, they will, and do, crash at a massively higher rate. The fatality and life-changing injury stats for children under 21 years old tragically back this up.

“Since about 2009, we have had a massive increase in driver distractions linked directly to smartphones. This does not only mean texting while driving!”

Absorb this: Between 55 and 75 percent of new drivers name their parents as the biggest influencers on their behavior behind the wheel. That’s more impactful than their peers, teachers, police, laws and tragic stories.

About three years ago, Andy began asking parents if they considered how their distracted-driving habits passed to their children. “The answers I received went from shock to total disbelief,” he says.

“It was obvious 90 percent never thought about it.”

Hence a need for “The Parent Driving Zone.” It includes behavior-altering information for parents of children of all ages. No one says all parents drive distracted, but one look around you during tomorrow’s commute will prove this scourge’s reach. Most never think about the fact they are their children’s driving instructor or think their child is paying much attention to their driving. Well, they are. If you have a kid up to age 18, I implore you to check out theparentdrivingzone.com, where you can order a copy of the video. Its lessons might save your child’s life.


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