Drive By Example Introduction

Drive By Example provides the platform for states to implement effective driver safety programs. With many states experiencing a recent surge in traffic fatalities, driver safety programs will be vital in helping states meet traffic safety goals and set the foundation for a better driving culture.

Built on a clear, concise, and memorable driving safety message to “drive by example”, the Drive By Example platform is a perfect fit for states who want to a comprehensive program to fight against a growing number of distracted, aggressive, and dangerous drivers. Additionally, by promoting high driving standards, Drive By Example allows the State to keep driver safety high on the public consciousness.

The Drive By Example Advantage

The foundation of the Drive By Example platform is a defensive driving campaign that works to influence drivers to adopt safe driving habits and behaviors that protect themselves, their passengers, and others on the roadway. Applicable to all drivers, the core message is to drive by example, alert, buckled, and cautious.

By using the Drive By Example platform, states can bolster driver safety through a program that:

  • addresses top driving safety priorities, including distracted driving prevention, seat belt use, teen driver protection and impaired driving reduction
  • develops driver safety partnerships with law enforcement, school districts, private sector firms, and other driving safety stakeholders
  • provides an efficient method for improving the reach of the State’s existing campaigns targeted to driver safety
  • transforms the State into a model for driving safety advancement

Because Drive By Example is a public service organization that is privately underwritten, there is no cost to the State for using the Drive By Example platform.

Supporting Observations

1. New Universe of Roadway Risk
Due to a growing number of distracted, impatient, and aggressive drivers, American motorists face a new universe of risk on the road. Because an ever-increasing number of drivers are using cell phones and driving faster, the risk of high-impact, violent collisions has significantly increased.

Traditionally, we have fought against dangerous drivers by enacting laws and using law enforcement patrols to police the roads. This method works reasonably well as long as the laws provide a strong deterrent against the conduct, and you have enough police dedicated to traffic safety patrols.

Unfortunately, when it comes to distracted, impatient, and aggressive drivers, we can not rely upon laws and law enforcement to reduce the rising number of dangerous drivers. This is particularly true in a day and age when the State and local police forces are stretched thin and do not have the budgets and resources for increasing enforcement initiatives.   

2. Dangerous Adult Drivers
While teen drivers are at the most risk for a fatal accident, working adults now represent a substantial driving threat. There are two reasons for this. First, as adults have adopted the cell phone as a primary way of managing busy work and personal responsibilities, working adults have become the largest segment of distracted drivers.

Second, because working adults face increasing productivity pressures, they are more willing to throw caution to the wind by driving faster and more aggressively. Ten years ago, 3 to 4% of the drivers on the road at any one time were considered dangerous drivers. Now, reports show that up to 25% – 30% of the drivers are engaging in behaviors that put themselves and others in harms way.

3. Changing Driver Behaviors
Given the above, our best option to changing driver behaviors in the current environment are driver safety initiatives that

  1. alert drivers to the new universe of roadway risk; and,
  2. influence those drivers to respond to the threat of harm by adopting safe driving habits and behaviors.

This type of strategy to change driver behavior has worked in the past in the context of seat belt use. When seat belts were first introduced in the 1970s, they were very unpopular. However, in the latter half in the 1980s, seat belt use jumped dramatically due in large part to a seat belt safety campaign that used crash dummies to depict what can happen to a driver who is not wearing a seat belt at the time of a collision.

The lesson is that drivers took defensive action against a perceived  risk of bodily harm. We can employ the same defensive driving strategy to fight against the modern day dangerous driver.

4. Teen Driver Protection
Statistics show that tates with more rigorous teen driver licensing laws have less teen driver fatalities. Thus, in addition to stronger GDL laws, teen driver protection can be significantly enhanced by formalized driver safety education. By “formalized driver education,” we mean comprehensive driver safety education delivered in the high school classroom that instructs teens in the risks of the road and safe driving habits/behaviors.

Additionally, because parents hold the key when it comes to reducing teen driver fatalities, States that promote parent engagement initiatives, such as mandatory parent training, will help prevent the types of collisions that cause serious injury and death.