Category Archives: Teen Driving, Space Management, Zone Control

Finally, A Family Program to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes!

Everyone knows of friends and relatives who have been in car crashes. Crashes occur so frequently that they are accepted –– in some cases expected to happen. There is a flood of information stating that teen drivers have a higher percentage of crashes than mature “experienced” drivers. It doesn’t have to be this way! Teen drivers should be better drivers than their parents and better than the majority of “experienced” drivers. The only things preventing teens from becoming “expert” drivers are the low expectations that society places upon them and the failure of our driver licensing system to place higher standards upon our educational system to provide teens with more than basic driver education.

Basic driver education is able to teach the conscious level of driving –– the rules of the road, how to use the vehicle’s controls, and necessary skills and information to pass the licensing exam. However, basic driver education isn’t able to develop and evaluate the unconscious values that already live in the teen’s unconscious mind. Applying John Locke’s conception of the mind, teens do not come into the driver education course with a completely blank slate; the many experiences they have had over their 15-16 years are indelible and often invisible to the teen, the teacher and parents. In the short time span in which novice driver education programs are conducted, there is neither time, nor opportunity, to evaluate how these experiences have been steeped into habits – unconscious values – for space management, or mismanagement.

It is the unconscious habits that dictate the position and speed vehicles travel in all situations. It’s the “feeling” of comfort a driver is able to accept for the approaching situation. Two drivers approach the same red traffic light: Driver 1 sees the light 15 seconds ahead, takes her foot off the gas, checks her rearview mirror, makes a slight braking action, and arrives five seconds away from the intersection when the light changes to green, searches the intersection to the left, front, and right for a clear path, continues through while gradually increasing speed back to 45-miles-per-hour –– a demonstration of expert space management. Driver 2, while 15 seconds away, continues to accelerate, applies a forceful braking action, bounces the car to a stop, waits impatiently for the light to change, and accelerates forcefully ahead at the first gleam of the green light only to speed ahead to the next red light where the same chain of actions will be repeated, repeated, repeated. Sooner, or later, perhaps on the 3,556th repeat of emulating a drag racer’s reaction to the yellow light, there is a pedestrian, or motorcyclist, or an aggressive SUV driver attempting to cross the intersection at the end of the yellow light. Just like that, during that one critical second, the “dragster” loses the race and lives are lost.

Both drivers performed all of their actions by habit without any conscious awareness. Their minds could have been on thoughts far away. Their actions, a second before the crash, were completely comfortable and acceptable to them. There were no thoughts of “right” or “wrong,” no feelings of “safety” or “danger” –– they were merely “driving.” Stand on any busy traffic light controlled intersection to see Driver 2 and all of his friends who follow him blindly, unknowingly, unaware of better choices that could be made. While standing on that corner you may have difficulty finding a driver performing the behaviors of Driver 1, the one who knows how to effectively manage space.

Isn’t it time families demand essential training and effective driver licensing exams to help teens acquire the space management habits necessary to stay out of crashes?

Go to this link for free “Driver Wellness Training” Driver Wellness Training-2  Use Guess Access.

About the author: Frederik Mottola, Professor Emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University and Executive Director of the National Institute for Driver Behavior, has, for the past 54 years, researched and developed techniques to help drivers learn good habits for space-management. A scientist, inventor, educator, and author, he has designed successful crash-reducing programs for corporations, municipalities, police, military, emergency vehicle operators, and traffic safety educators on national and international levels.

Protect Your Family from Texting Drivers

We always hear the warning “don’t text and drive.” Such messages have little effect to provide drivers who don’t text with training to find and avoid the wrongful actions of others. Now, you can have the Zone Control Awareness e-Coach as your personal coach to help you cultivate the development of awareness habits. Click on the link below to learn how the Selective Attention Matrix can foster awareness habits.  

Send for the free Family eCoach program: 


Bad Habits are “Caught;” Good Ones Must Be Taught

Most drivers drive on autopilot based on habits they’ve unknowingly caught. But, to excel in the performance of anything requires the practice of specific behaviors that have been properly taught. The more clearly a single action is defined and the more it is consciously practiced, the stronger our brain’s network of neurons forms it into habit.

Because driving or riding in a motor vehicle is our most deadly social activity, I would like to take a positive approach to increase public awareness of how to take control of the critical second before a crash.

We have a very effective way to prepare teen drivers with the skills needed to avoid crashes, and it begins before they learn how to drive. It requires the involvement of your family working together to develop the Ten Habits of Zone Control for Zero Crashes.

For an experience in expanding your mind with awareness, go to

Click for Level 1 Awareness

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Do You Ride with a Guillotine Next to Your Head?

Some forty years ago, in addition to teaching Traffic Safety Education courses at Southern Connecticut State University, I was a driver risk-management consultant for various corporations. I would evaluate the crashes that took place and develop behavioral patterns as counter-measure against future crashes.

One of the crashes I evaluated is still very memorable. The woman ran a red light and was T-boned by my client’s driver. Her drivers-side window was half open. Although she had a safety belt on, the force of the impact lifted her body and slammed her head down onto the edge of the open window. The top of her head was cleanly cut off, just as though someone had sliced it off with a guillotine.

That crash prompted me to recommend to all of my clients and driver education teachers that windows should remain closed, or if they must be open, have them fully open.

What is especially scary to me is when I see kids in the back seat with the window half down and their heads sometimes partially out of the car hovering over the edge of the window. And, the parent is zipping through the intersection like it’s a matter of life or death to get through the intersection. Sometimes life ends!

Next time you get into your car take your fist and tap it against the closed window; then open your window halfway and tap on the open edge of the window. Feel the difference. Which surface would you want your head to slam into at 40 mph?

Thirty years ago I was asked by the California Department of Licensing if they could videotape some of the demonstrations that I would perform when I conducted workshop presentations. The following link is the video they produced.

Windows Up — No Guillotine

Who Wants to be Involved in a Crash?

Driving or riding in a motor vehicle is our most deadly social activity. In no other daily task are we unknowingly confronted –– in one critical second –– with life-ending, or quality-of-life altering, situations.

With so many drivers texting these days, a new set of awareness skills is needed. Drivers need a coach to help them acquire space-management habits.

You can learn how to become your own space-management “coach.” Just like learning to play the piano the results of your practice will determine the enjoyment and rewards to be received. Pounding on the piano keys mindlessly will not produce beautiful music –– it only produces the fingers crashing into the keys with ugly sounding results.

You and all members of your family are provided with clearly defined choices as to what habits do you want to detect, solve, and control the “critical seconds” from jumping into your path of travel. Experience the power of your mind. Go to:

Click for Level 1 Awareness

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What! Four-Hour Driver Education Classroom Sessions???

Yesterday I received an email asking my opinion on whether there should be four-hour classroom sessions allowing a teen to complete a driver education program within 8 days. Such a contemplation would be equivalent to saying, “we should teach teens a foreign language in eight days and expect them to read, speak, and understand complex subject matters in that language even though their lives may depend on it.” That is more than ridiculous! It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding for how a teen should learn the mental preparation of risk-prevention and space-management, which is the equivalent of learning a foreign language. An effective space-management curriculum cannot be poured into teens’ heads as a continual flow of knowledge. The jug would overflow within five minutes of the four-hour class.

William Glasser and others have cited the following statistics: a person retains 10 percent of what is read, 50 percent of what they see and hear, 80 percent of what they experience, and 95 percent of what they are able to teach to others. Every lesson in an effective curriculum should provide activities that allow students to become teachers and to use risk-prevention, space-management behaviors in such a way that they can be nurtured into life-enduring habits.

The major function of a classroom session is to prepare the student for in-vehicle performance. The more preparation the student is given in the classroom, the more responsibility he/she should assume for knowing what is correct behavior while operating in the vehicle.

An effective curriculum takes into account brain-developmental concepts such as providing the learner with meaningful problem-solving opportunities in a non-threatening environment, and giving the learner positive feedback within seconds of successful performance. Classroom activities must give students an opportunity to learn and apply the concepts and behavioral patterns they will be expected to perform during the next in-vehicle session.

There are truck loads of research clearly demonstrating that lecturing to teens, or reading to teens from the text book –– which is most likely to happen as the period of classroom time increases –– has little to no educational value. And, the average attention span for a teen is 8 minutes. If they are interested in the topic, their attention may leap to 20-30 minutes. When a teacher is confronted with a four-hour time period, it would take a highly energized and extremely effective teacher to turn the 240 minutes into 30 dynamic 8-minute student-centered activities. It most likely will not happen.

We at the National Institute for Driver Behavior are adamant in our belief that the content of a typical driver education classroom should not be presented within four-hour classes over a period of 8 days. Perhaps a driver education curriculum should be presented in 8-minute activities spaced over a period of FOUR YEARS –– which will be the topic of a future posting.

About the author: Frederik Mottola, Professor Emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University and Executive Director of the National Institute for Driver Behavior, has, for the past 50 years, researched and developed techniques to help drivers learn good habits for space-management. A scientist, inventor, educator, and author, he has designed successful crash-reducing programs for corporations, municipalities, police, military, emergency vehicle operators, and traffic safety educators on national and international levels.

What in the World is Driver Education?

At the recent ADTSEA Conference for driver educators, I made the statement to several of my friends and colleagues that “it is time to get rid of driver education.” Then, before they could take a swing at my head, I backed up and began to explain what I meant.


For the teachers I was talking to who spent upwards of a thousand dollars and four days of their lives to attend the national conference, driver education is more than a way to make a living; it is a passion for helping provide teens with a lifelong set of safe driving skills. But, these dedicated teachers are sometimes mixed in with others who don’t have the same passion.


There is such a wide variation of competency levels among driver education teachers and instructors. You know of friends –– and I’m sure you cringe as I do –– who tell you about some of the driver ed stories their teens’ recount. “The driver ed teacher fell asleep in the car. My son had to wake him up.” “My instructor didn’t help me, she just kept telling me to park again and again until I got it right. After seven attempts without success, she said ‘I don’t know what more to do to help you.’ I gave up.” “My driver ed teacher had us take turns reading aloud from the textbook when we weren’t watching movies.” Stories like these and other factors have created an industry that gets little respect. Yes, Driver Education is the Rodney Dangerfield of education. Yet those of us striving for, and conducting, quality driver education programs know that there is no subject matter in the high school curriculum that has a higher enduring value to one’s life, or to maintaining the quality of life, than Driver Education. And so it should have the utmost respect.


Now I’ll get to the other part of what puts driver ed into an arena that makes it appear to have little value to the general population. There is no standard for what a teen should be able to perform at the end of the driver education program other than being able to pass the licensing exam. The skills one needs to pass a driver licensing exam are based upon knowing rudimentary motor vehicle laws and regulations and being able to demonstrate basic (very basic) vehicle manipulative skills. The major objective for a teen who comes into a driver ed program is to be able to “go through the hoops to get my license.” The teen has little concern for learning “space management” skills because they are not evaluated to any extent during the licensing exam. So, how much does what is being evaluated on a licensing exam affect the quality of driver education? Answer: A lot!


In 1970, the United States had the lowest number of traffic deaths in the world at 30 fatalities per 100,000 population while the United Kingdom had 38 and Japan had 95 fatalities per 100,000 population. However, although safer vehicles, safety belts, airbags, and faster medical response time lowered fatality rates worldwide, in 2010 the United States was ranked higher in fatalities than 60 other countries with a 12.3 fatality rate. The UK dropped from 38 to 3.6 fatalities and Japan dropped from 95 to 3.9 fatalities per 100,000 population. The major changes both the UK and Japan made were to increase the skill level requirements before licensing. The UK’s licensing exam emphasizes applicants’ perceptual abilities to detect a potential crash situation. And, Japan places emphasis on applicants demonstrating step-by-step driving procedures, which requires a tedious and lengthy learning process. The cost of receiving the training to get a license in the UK and Japan will range anywhere from the equivalent of $2000 to $5000 dollars. And, it isn’t uncommon for some to take years to learn how to pass the licensing exam. Conversely, there have been no significant changes in the licensing exam within the United States. The cost for those taking driver ed in the US ranges from $300 to $800, and there is a greater number of licensing applicants in the US who take no driver education.


It is difficult for those driving schools that operate a quality driver education program and pay instructors a professional wage to complete with the driving school across the street that is paying their undertrained instructors wages that are equal to, or less than, what one earns working at a fast food restaurant. A parent calls your school. The first question: “How much is your driver education program?” Parents are not going to ask “What will you teach my daughter to provide her with life-enduring crash avoidance skills?” Parents don’t know the differences among programs or what should be learned! Until the driver licensing exams begin evaluating skills that are relative, we need to promote the value of our programs.


Here is where we get rid of the term “driver education.” The parent calls asking for pricing. You state: “We conduct more than a driver education program, we conduct a Driver Wellness Coaching Program that teaches teens how to stay alive.” “But your program is twice as costly as your competitor across the street.” “Well ma’am, if your son needed a life-saving operation, would you send him to a surgeon that charged half-price, or would you want the best? Our Driver Wellness Coaching Program is the best!” Then, you need to deliver the goods!


About the author: Frederik Mottola, Professor Emeritus at Southern Connecticut State University and Executive Director of the National Institute for Driver Behavior, has, for the past 50 years, researched and developed techniques to help drivers learn good habits for space-management. A scientist, inventor, educator, and author, he has designed successful crash-reducing programs for corporations, municipalities, police, military, emergency vehicle operators, and traffic safety educators on national and international levels.