Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada. He has been a judge on three seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network and also hosted The National Driving Test. Scott regularly writes articles on safe driving and posts driving tips on Twitter.
He can be followed at @SafeDriver
Tell us about your background in road safety and driver training
I began in road safety early in 1988 as an in-car driving instructor and then a classroom teacher a few years after that. After spending two years on the road improving my skill, I was able to begin training new instructors. This grew my passion for road safety. I wanted others to succeed.
Why are you so passionate about road safety?
My passion really grew extensively when I became a dad for the first time in 1997. Seeing how many people get injured or lose their lives because of vehicle crashes and how it affects families really got to me. Crashes are preventable. My passion is to allow others to feel the same way.
How can we encourage young drivers to be better drivers?
The role models of young people are their family members. It has to be a group effort. If parents take the initiative to be good drivers, kids will grow up seeing this and will also want to be the same type of driver. Kids begin when they are infants to mimic what they see and hear.
What is the most helpful thing parents can do to help young drivers become safer drivers?
Parents should support their kids when they’re learning and shortly after getting their licence. Parents and young drivers should have an open dialogue with regards to safe driving practices. They should openly discuss what they feel the young driver is doing well, what they should change about their driving and why this would be a good change. Proper driver training from a reputable driving school will help them the most. As parents we shouldn’t teach our kids. Just because you have a licence to drive doesn’t mean you know how to teach it effectively. Just like a dentist; just because you know how to brush your teeth doesn’t mean you can fill a cavity.
In your opinion what percentage of drivers (of all ages) could do better?
100%. There are things we as drivers do outside of driving that can take our attention away from driving. Before driving, ask yourself; what can I do today while driving that would be an improvement? Being honest with yourself if the key to improvement. If you aren’t sure how to improve, ask a professional (or read my blog!).
What can they do better?
Drivers need to do a better job to share the road with other road users. If more drivers attempted to create a cooperative driving culture, the roads would be safer for everyone, insurance rates could drop and injuries/fatalities would drop.
What, in your view, is the biggest problem on Canadian roads?
Just like it is globally, distracted driving is a huge problem and huge concern for road safety. Too many people feel they can multi-task when in reality they can’t do it as well as they think. Taking your attention and driving thoughts off the driving task for just 3 seconds is enough to crash into another vehicle, run over a pedestrian stepping off the curb and much, much more. Driving is a task in itself and needs to be treated with respect.
Whose responsibility is road safety?
Every person within our society is responsible for road safety. Pedestrians need to ensure it is safe to cross the road. Cyclists have to ensure their actions won’t affect themselves or other road users and drivers of any motor vehicle need to do the same. Your actions should never negatively affect anyone else.
You spent three years as a judge on Canada’s Worst Driver. What did you learn from doing the program?
Being an on-air judge on Canada’s Worst Driver was awesome! It’s opened so many doors for me. Besides talking to some very interesting people who have interesting views toward driving, learning new things in my life such as media and television has made my life more interesting and for that I would never change it.
You must have seen some shocking examples of bad driving. What was the worst thing you saw?
It’s very difficult to say which example is the worst. I used to think I’ve seen it all, but then I see something I’ve never seen before. Even after 28 years in road safety, I most likely will still see things that make me shake my head. Ask me again next week and I may have a different answer!
If you could offer just one piece of advice to new drivers what would it be?
Remember your actions affect many people – those you share the road with, your family and friends if you get injured or killed, the vehicle owner if the vehicle has to be replaced or repaired… and yourself. You owe it to yourself to become a safe driver. Keep working at it. It takes time and dedication.
You’re known as the Safe Driver – what is the most important thing you do that helps you stay safe on the roads?
I follow my advice and often share it whenever I can. I never take a day off when it comes to driving safely!