By Karyn Roeling with Seibert Insurance Agency
I can still remember the days of learning how to drive, how exited I was to go to the DMV to take my drivers test, getting my first car and best of all…getting to drive solo for the first time! I truly enjoyed the independence of having my own space and going where I wanted to go when I wanted to go. I also remember the days of packing as many friends into my 4-door Ford Explorer with no regard to having enough seat belts to go around. My parents had no clue that I was playing “school bus” with my SUV and putting their financial future at risk every time I had friends pile into the car without seatbelts on. My parents were not overbearing however I did have a curfew and “boundaries” my SUV was not allowed to drive out of and I followed the rules….for the most part.
I had the typical carless/invincible attitude that most teens have until one day in October when I received a phone call that changed my perspective on life. One of the girls I played softball with had died in a car accident. I don’t think the “forever” really hit me until I attended her funeral and saw her parents and brother that were once full of life, now completely devastated and could hardly function. She was all about softball so when they spoke at the funeral and told us how she was being buried in her softball uniform that really hit me hard and I realized in that very moment that the decisions I make behind the wheel of my car cannot only end my life, my friends lives but also those innocent bystanders that don’t even see me coming. In addition to the ending of a life, to see those loved ones that are left behind and wrecked really hit home. After attending that funeral, I instantly became a better, more responsible driver and my hope and passion is that I can impact the lives of other teens out there by telling this story so they don’t end up leaving loved ones behind or attending a funeral of a friend.
These days there are so many distractions that even experienced drivers get distracted enough to get into an avoidable accident. According to Teen Driver Source, some of the largest enemies of teenage drivers are cell phones, speeding and peer pressure.
56% of teens said they make and answer phone calls while driving and 13% said they send and respond to text messages while driving.
17% of teens said speeding is fun and 55% of teens said they exceed the speed limit by more than 10mph
44% of teens said they drive more safely without friends in the car and 67% of teens said they felt unsafe when someone else was driving
So do any of these facts above really affect the outcome of a teenager getting behind the wheel of a car? These facts say they do:
1. Automobile crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths.
2. Teen drivers are 5 times more likely to get into a car accident than an experienced driver.
3. 77% of teen driver accidents involve avoidable driving errors.
There are many programs out there to help your teen stay alive and not become one of these statistics. In addition to having your teen observe your driving habits (parents), they can take a drivers education course at their high school or independently from school to get some extra instruction. Also, something as simple as taking a course online can help their habits/experience improve. In addition to furthering their driving education, it is a good idea to have them sign some type of written “contract” that has the teen promise things like…. curfew, financial issues, no distractions, only one passenger allowed, maintenance of the vehicle, wearing a seat belt, etc. Click here to see the one we recommend to our clients.
According to National Safety Council, one of the best things a parent can do to help reduce the chance of a crash is to practice specific skills together at least once a week for 30 minutes.
Here are a few of the skills that can be practiced:
• Scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards
• Controlling speed, stopping, turning and following distances
• Judging the gaps between vehicles in traffic
• Managing the highest risks, such as driving at night and with young passengers
• Judging the speed of an oncoming vehicle to determine if you have enough time to merge in
There is no full proof plan so unfortunately no matter what training/guidance is provided, your teen can still be involved in or cause a serious auto accident. However, the more attention that you put on this subject, the less likely your teen will be involved in an accident. You not only may save their life, you will save a significant amount of money on insuring them if they have good grades, drivers education and go ticket/accident free.