Keeping Your Teen Driver Safe

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you know that I spent many years working and volunteering in youth ministry. Then, after leaving work in youth ministry, I became a seventh grade teacher. During those years I witnessed many of "my kids" receive their driver's licenses and I heard many a seventh grader gripe that thirteen year olds  should "totally" be able to get a driver's license. 

It was all a little exciting...seeing my students succeed in their driving tests and receive that coveted license, BUT there was also a little bit of fear. I lost friends and classmates to car accidents when I was in high school and the thought of my students out there on those same roads was always a little terrifying. I worried about them on late nights after youth events or rainy, wet roads after a basketball game. My work in youth ministry first introduced me to the worries that parenthood would bring.

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend my local Drive It Home Show. Through Drive It Home Shows all across the country, the Allstate Foundation is partnering with The National Safety Council to offer resources to help keep our teens safer on the road. Drive It Home Shows are done in a partially comedic way, but also include serious statistics from safety experts and sobering stories from parents who lost their children to car accidents. Drive It Home also has an interactive website that features videos, practical tips, and other valuable resources like Parent-Teen Driving Agreements. 

My mom attended the show with me (sorry for the blurry Instagram pic!) and it was fun to reminiscence on all of our stressful at home driver's ed adventures. I'm pretty sure having to teach me to drive made her send both of my brothers to driver's ed through our school district. Sorry Mom!

As I sat through the show and heard statistic after statistic, I wondered to myself how this could be applicable to me right now. I was hearing a lot of things that I really want to incorporate when my children start learning to drive, BUT I wanted to know what I could do right now. And right about that moment, one of the experts from The National Safety Council said "You might think that your kids start learning to drive when they're fifteen. But, you're wrong. They start learning around age two when they begin observing your behaviors and habits on the road." 

Whoa. That really hit me. If I don't want my children to talk on their phones and drive, I shouldn't talk on my phone while driving. If I don't want my children to speed, I shouldn't speed. And I know that sound so simple and basic, but I'd never thought about how young my children could be when they learn those behaviors. I need to start changing today, not fourteen years from now. It's something I've really been working on since the event.

I also wanted to share a few statistics with you. I'm definitely a "words" person BUT, statistics really speak to me and I found all of these to be pretty shocking:

+ The state of Texas requires only fifty hours of logged driving training. This is significantly low compared to many other states; some states require up to one hundred hours of training.

+ According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there were 1,222 fatalities in crashes involving at least one 15-19 year old motor vehicle driver in Texas from 2009 to 2011. A total of 414 teen drivers (15-19), 183 teen passengers (15-19), and 121 other age passengers in the teen's vehicle PLUS 403 others were killed in those crashes.

+ The three main reasons for teen car crashes have nothing to do with cell phone use or alcohol like most parents assume. Instead, lack of training in scanning the road for hazards, controlling and choosing an appropriate speed, and difficulty judging the gap between cars causes most teen accidents.

+ One of the most dangerous years in a person's life is the first twelve months after getting a driver's license. A person's risk for injuring themselves does not spike as high as this first year until they reach their eighties and have a high risk of falling

If you're a parent I highly recommend you checking out a Drive It Home Show (see if there are shows in your area, here) or the Drive It Home website. If you're the parent of a tween or teen, it's so important that you learn this information. And even if you're the parent of younger kiddos, it's never too early to begin learning how to best teach and protect your children on the road. 

This thought was emphasized several times at the show and I absolutely agree...
We can never, NEVER do too much to protect our children. 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.