Tuesday, September 9, 2008

IIHS Proposes Increasing Minimum Driving Age

By Tom Wiecek, Family and Teen Driver Protection Specialist

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety announced today their proposal to increase the minimum driving age in all states in the US to age 17. Their reasons are solid and should help reduce the number of accidents involving teenagers.

The Graduated Drivers License program that almost every state has adopted has proven to work. Numbers of teen driver accidents and fatalities have decreased every year since its inception. The GDL program basically adds more supervised driving experience for teens and restricts them from driving during the times when risk is highest. However, more than 5,000 teens are killed in car accidents every year!

Although teens and many parents may not like this change, parents should understand that there are two primary reasons why 16 year olds are most likely to get into accidents- inexperience and immaturity. Parents can help their child get the experience by spending time supervising their teen behind the wheel.

Maturity, on the other hand, can only come with age. The GDL program gives the teen more time for experience but it doesn’t address the problem of immaturity. 16 year olds have the highest crash rate and fatalities of any age group and it’s largely due to peer pressure and not realizing the dangers they face.

16 year olds tend to think they are invincible behind the wheel and when other teens in their car urge them to drive fast, they cave into such pressures much easier.

Whether this proposal is passed in North Carolina or not, there are steps parents can take to reduce the likelihood of their child causing an accident.

Get a home study driving course and spend as much time possible teaching your teen the skills needed to drive safely.

Delay the time before your teen gets a full license. This will help your teen mature and give you more time to supervise your teen’s driving. This will also show how serious you are about their safety.

Get a GPS Teen Monitoring System. This will instantly reduce the likelihood of your teen driving dangerously. If your teen knows that you’ll be alerted, they will be less tempted to speed or break any other rules that you’ve set forth.

Talk to your teen about the dangers. Communication is probably the most effective way to make your teen a safer driver. Share the statistics and the most common mistakes teens make. Then get a contract in writing that states that your teen understands the dangers and will follow the rules you have set forth. You can download a free parent/teen driver contract by clicking here: http://www.teendriverinsurance.com/nc-paramount-res.html.

Please feel to comment on this blog or to send me your thoughts to tom@teendriverinsurance.com.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tears for My Friends

Debbye, a friend of mine shared this with me and I thought I should pass this on to hopefully, help others.

Tears for My Friends
By Debbye Butler

I have a friend named Jeannette. She had a daughter and a son, until October 1986. Her daughter tested the odds of the effects of alcohol on her motor skills and judgment versus her knowledge about the roads with which she was so familiar.

The alcohol won.

Cindy never saw her 21st birthday. Jeannette, however, has to live through every one of her daughter’s candles-and-cake days — wondering what her daughter would look like now and what she would be doing with her promising life.

I have another buddy. His name is Bill. He is a devoted family man, and until a dreaded October night in 1992, he had two sons and a daughter. Now he has one son, one daughter, and 17 years of memories of a child who will never grow older. Bill, too, had to live the worst parental nightmare possible — a tired teenager with a set of car keys, a can of beer, and an invincible attitude on a late weekend night.

Both of my friends are incredibly loving people and responsible parents. They were looking forward to graduations, a son- or daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. But they have been cheated out of some of the best and most meaningful adventures in life, and nothing or no one can change that cruel, crushing reality.

Maybe you know someone who has lost a son or daughter because of this deadly combination. Maybe it’s a neighbor. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s someone in your own family. Maybe the children’s deaths were caused by another person who was driving while intoxicated.

It’s hard for me to believe I would ever have personally known one family — much less two — that would have to live through this gnawing, once-it-happens-it-never-goes-away pain. And it’s even more difficult to know what to say to them. Hugs help. But they’ll never replace the hugs from the children who are gone because of alcohol.

When Bill was saying goodbye to his son during the funeral, he did the most loving, courageous thing that any parent could do in a situation like this. With a lump in his throat that must have felt like the size of a softball, he looked out at the stunned young faces of his son’s high school friends. He said he never wanted to have to come to a funeral for this reason again. He said, “Don’t drink and drive.”

Bill told me later he hoped he didn’t sound like he was preaching. Well … I hope he did. I hope everyone listened. And I hope everyone remembers.

© Debbye Butler. Used with author’s permission. May not be reproduced in any fashion without author’s express permission. Debbye Butler is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, Ind.