My 3 Monsters: Drive It Home: My Thoughts on Teen Driving Safety

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Drive It Home: My Thoughts on Teen Driving Safety

I have a beautiful daughter named Sydney.  In my mind she will forever be eight years old -- innocent, sheltered, and dependent on me.

But the truth is, she'll be 15 in a couple of months.  That's a mere 14 months away from dating {we're pretty strict} and -GASP!- driving.  She reminds me almost daily that she can get her learner's permit in 8 months.  8 MONTHS, people!  Where has the time gone?

I mean, I know kids grow up.  I have worked with the teenage girls at church for 7 years now.  I've seen lots of sweet little girls turn into beautiful, independent young ladies who -GASP!- drive themselves places.  It never gets less shocking to see one of "my girls" behind the wheel of a car.  I never, EVER considered the possibility of it happening to my Sydney.  And yet here we are.

The prospect of having a teen driver in the house is equal parts exciting and terrifying.  Having someone to run to the store for me or do other little errands?  Awesome.  Not having to chauffeur my children absolutely everywhere?  Awesome.  My kid -- that little girl in the pretty white dress -- out on the road operating a motor vehicle in traffic? Almost too scary to think about.

I attended a Drive It Home event sponsored by the Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council last week with a few friends of mine to learn what we can do better to keep our teen drivers safe.  Besides being super fun . . .

. . . it was really informative.  Did you know:
  • The first year after getting their license is one of the most dangerous years of your child's life.
  • Inexperience is the #1 cause of all teen driving accidents, not risk-taking or distractions. {Though those are both contributing factors, too.}
  • The odds of getting into an accident increase exponentially for every young passenger in the car. {Kids are about 40% more likely to get in an accident with one teen passenger, 200% more likely with 2 teen passengers, and 400% more likely with 3 teen passengers.}
  • As parents we need to model better driving behavior for our children, such as turning off our cell phones when we get behind the wheel and always wearing seat belts.
  • The state minimum requirements to get a driver's license are simply not enough.  We need to spend more time in the car with our teen drivers coaching them, especially in higher risk situations like nighttime driving and driving with passengers. {According to a study done by the Allstate Foundation, 52% of teen drivers here in Arizona wish their parents had spent more time teaching them to drive in demanding situations.}
  • Parents should spend at least 30 minutes a week driving with their teen AFTER they get their license to continue training and monitor their progress.
I don't know why it had never occurred to me before that I should also talk with the parents of my kids' friends to make sure we were all on the same page about our expectations for our teen drivers.  We will have the rule that Sydney cannot drive with teen passengers for however long we decide after she gets her license, but her friends and their parents need to also know that we don't want Sydney riding with their kids either for that time.  Just for a while.  Just until we really feel like they are a little more skilled.

I know that's not a guarantee that my kid will be safe.  There's no guarantee that my kid will be safe, but I can do my part help out and so can you.  These Drive It Home events are happening in 14 cities across the US, but don't worry if you can't make it out to a live show.  On the Drive It Home website you will find lots of really great information and videos to share with your teen driver, like this one:

While I'm still wary about my baby girl getting behind the wheel of a car, I feel more confident after attending the Drive It Home show.  I feel like I am more knowledgeable about what I need to do as a parent to help my kids become successful drivers in the next few years.  Do you have kids who drive?  What did you do to prepare them? Leave a comment and share your wisdom!

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

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the most terrifying things a mother must do - watch their child drive off behind the wheel of a car, without you in it. Horrifying! Andrew is a great driver and I have complete faith in his abilities, but I can do nothing about his lack of experience, or those crazy drivers out there. I can only encourage, teach, and pray. Lots and lots of prayers.

    One problem we ran into (and hadn't anticipated) was the dating dilemma. We've asked for no pairing off alone, which included no one-on-one in the car. This was problematic when the girl's parents didn't want her in a car with more than just the driver (due to the distractions you mentioned). Which I understand. So where do you put your parental line? Multiple kids or one-on-one time alone in a car... Yikes!

    There are so many things to think about! Good luck. It's not easy! We'll have 2 - count them 2 - teenage drivers by the end of this year. Heaven help us!


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