So many of you are as excited as we are about the mission of Ashburn Driving School—saving lives and making our world safer, one driver at a time.
So many of you, hundreds! have seen first-hand what a difference it makes to provide methodical, logical, clear, thorough, behind-the-wheel--that is, inside-the-car--instruction to young men and women before sending them out onto the roads.
You see as we do that it may be true that the real reason for the teenage accident rate is not simply because they’re teens. No, in fact, we believe that the tragically ubiquitous teen driving accident/fatality rate may indeed have less to do with age than it does with the level and quality of in-car instruction that the driving student has received.
And we believe that, except for Ashburn Driving School students, perhaps ninety-five percent of all drivers in America actually received little or no methodical, systematic, behind-the-wheel, that is, inside-the-car, driver's education. Hard to believe, right?
Okay, maybe so.
But did you?
I (Cathy) know I sure didn’t, and that was forty-plus years ago when driving was a whole lot simpler and far less distracted than it is today. Back then, most of us learned in the classroom and on the glorified arcade game driving simulator—remember those?, practiced with our parents a bit, and then took a road test. If we received any in-car instruction, it often consisted of being cramped in the back of a car for an hour or so, supposedly “learning how to drive.” But in fact there was little or no formal, methodical, regulated instruction taking place. Instead, an instructor got us driving, motioned where to turn, made a few pointers as he marked up a sheet on his clipboard, and sent us out into the driving world completely unprepared for what was ahead.
And I should know—I got into a car accident a week after receiving my license. I rear-ended the car in front of me on a busy, traffic-filled turnpike. When I told my dad, he said, Why didn’t you slam on your brakes to stop the car? My response (I remember it like it was yesterday), I didn’t know I could slam on my brakes, indicated without doubt that my driver instruction time had been a sham. So Dad took me out in the car and taught me how to “stop on a dime”—to hit the brakes hard enough and fast enough, when necessary, to stop instantly. And so I learned. Wow, thank goodness that car in front of me hadn't been a pedestrian, right? So much for methodical, thorough, in-car instruction.
And this is a horrid mistake. It’s why “every single day in Virginia, car crashes take more teenage lives than cancer and homicide combined.” (Public Policy Polling, May 2017) That's just wrong. Tragically wrong.
Here’s another statement from the same poll:
“When asked what they believed were the biggest reasons for teen driving crashes, Virginians responded: distraction by cell phone, lack of driving experience, distraction by passengers, and drinking and driving." [But what about the lack of any formal, methodical, systematic, detailed, in-car instruction?]
See?! It seems as though no one even thinks about asking, “How much in-car instruction did this teenager receive before he or she was given a license, and how thorough was that instruction.”
Well, we at Ashburn Driving have come to ask that question. And we ask it a lot nowadays.
We believe we have answers, too. Answers that can not only explain the problem, but that can provide a solution.
And the main solution? Let’s take a thorough, detailed, methodical, systematic approach to in-car driver instruction and stop treating that component of driver’s ed as if it were optional at best.
How to do this? Well, there are a few ways we can think of, but we’re sure there are lots more. Here’s a few we’ve come up with:
First, take a program like Ashburn Driving School’s behind-the-wheel course, and scale it to the point where it’s become a standard program all across the state—and eventually the nation.
Publish a driver instruction manual that details exactly what Ashburn Driving School teaches with related videos and diagrams (we're working on it!).
Meet with the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss this problem and see if there would be a way to systematically follow-up with each and every driving school in the state, not simply to audit their records, which is what happens now, but to literally call the parents and students on the phone and ask them specific questions such as what the instructor taught them, how much time they spent driving and observing, whether they learned what we believe are non-negotiable skills such as off-road recovery, and more.
These are just a few ideas, but they are at least springboards onto a world where in-car driver instruction is given a prominent place in the driver’s ed process and teens no longer enter the driving world with little or no knowledge or skill.
Finally, we know as you do that to the degree that we properly train and educate our driving students, so will we and our children after us benefit by driving on safer roadways. With this in mind, we would like to extend a cordial invitation to you--as a corporation, as an organization, or as a personal friend of Ashburn Driving--to join in our mission by supporting these important goals. With innumerable ongoing costs such as vehicle purchase and maintenance, licensing, bonding, and insurance fees, website upkeep, the production of a driver's manual and instructional videos, and more, we’d be most grateful if you would consider joining with us in this way to further the accomplishment of our mission to save lives.
If you can join with us, a Support Our Mission link is below, and you'll receive a personal letter of thanks as well as your organization's or your family's name on a list included in every one of our student folders. Above all, you'll gain the knowledge that you are participating in this important life-saving effort with all of us here at the Ashburn Driving School.
With blessings and thanks!
Lyle and Cathy Tulloch
*Contributions not tax deductible.