Participants in the news conference at the Atlanta Motor Speedway announcing the launch of the Safe Driving Program partnership included Richard Petty, “The King,” seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion and his son, Kyle Petty (Spokesman for Petty Safe Driving Program), Clemson University’s President James F. Barker and Dr. Kim E. Alexander, Executive Director of CU-IGRSS.
CU-IGRSS launched its national Safe Driving Program in partnership with Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPDE) at a news conference at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 2007. This unique partnership with the world’s leading provider of motorsports entertainment is designed to prevent traffic crashes by at-risk adolescent and young adult drivers by targeting critical road hazards and risky behaviors. This research-based program offers both classroom and on-track laboratory experiences based on the best vehicle control techniques, life skills training, and education/mentoring conducted in a controlled and safe environment.
Novice drivers are overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds and account for one in three deaths in this age group (NHTSA, 2013; CDC, 2010). The Petty Safe Driving Program is designed to reduce dangerous driving behaviors such as driver distraction, inattention, drowsy driving, speeding, impaired driving, unsafe lane-keeping, and following too closely through both on-track and classroom learning modules. Program modules include instruction relating to braking skills, reaction time, obstacle avoidance, loss of control, and tailgating.
The six-hour safe driving program delivers focused driving experiences and related safety information to the participants including instruction in safe driving judgment and decision making. Instructors accompany participants throughout the program, providing coaching in order to offer immediate feedback on performance, as well as to assess driving skill during each in-vehicle module. The course also includes pre- and post-assessments to determine the acquisition of safe driving knowledge and skills of participants including multi-tasking and divided attention exercises. Petty Safe Driving Program courses have been conducted in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas (Texas A&M)
The Petty Safe Driving Program is designed to teach safe driving skills and safety education consisting of classroom and on-track laboratory experiences based on the best vehicle control techniques, life skills training and education/mentoring in order to:
1. Target high-risk driving circumstances such as driving with passengers in the peer group, optimistic bias, adolescent emotionality, drinking and driving, seat belt use;
2. Teach methods and techniques in both classroom and on-track developed to address lifestyle and psychosocial factors that can mitigate risky driving behaviors;
3. Provide competency-based training in both classroom and on-track that recognizes individual differences and is tailored to address the specific skill deficiencies of novices;
4. Address immaturity and inexperience in both classroom and on-track.