Drive it Home: teen driving safety

Last week I shared news about an upcoming event called the Drive It Home Show. The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council teamed up to travel across the country and present in 14 different cities. Their goal? Keeping teen drivers safe. They helped raise awareness for teen car accidents, gave tips on how to help your teen, and shared some grim statistics. I attended our local show at Rockford College last night.

drive it home showMy mom won a $25 gas gift card at the Drive it Home Show in Rockford, IL!

My kids are years away from driving a car, but I walked away thinking they might never be allowed to drive a car, haha. But really… it’s not funny… although the Drive It Home Show did present with comedians from Second City in Chicago! They did various skits (that were very funny!) on teens driving with their parents (we all remember how much fun that was, right?!), offered STUD-tistics from some hot men (got my attention!), and even sang and danced. We even heard from a mom at the Drive it Home Show whose daughter was the passenger in a terrible car accident after homecoming (no drugs or alcohol were involved) and the driver was killed. Heartbreaking.

Drive it Home Show

drive it home show

The reality is that the first year of driving is the most dangerous and over half of high-school kids will be in an accident before they graduate. I’m thankful to say I’ve never been in a car crash… although my side mirror did have a bad run in with the drive-thru sign at Culvers :/ When I was in high school we had an exchange student visit for a year from Norway. Her name was Laura and she was always smiling. We played on the tennis team together and I’m also Norwegian so we became good friends. The following summer our family even vacationed in Norway and we stopped in Laura’s hometown to visit her and her family. A year later I learned that Laura was driving on a gravel road, swerved to miss a deer, and instead hit a tree. She died and she was just a teenager.

At Drive It Home‘s website you can find more statistics and facts, tips on talking and driving with your teen, and video resources. Here are some stats and some information about our state of IL:

  • The number one cause of teen fatalities is car crashes.
  • The NUMBER ONE cause of teen car crashes is not talking on the phone, texting, reckless driving, etc… it’s INEXPERIENCE.
  • Nearly half of parents express regret about not monitoring their teen driver after they get a license and more than two-thirds wish they spent more time practicing driving with their teen in high-risk situations.
  • Parents and teens agree (they AGREE?!) that they should have spent more time practicing in dangerous conditions, according to The Allstate Foundation survey.
  • More than half of Illinois teens (55%) wish their parents had spent more time teaching them to drive in demanding situations.
  • According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 310 fatalities in crashes involving at least one 15- to 19-year-old driver in IL from 2009 to 2011. A total of 128 teen drivers (15-19), 57 teen passengers (15-19), 29 other age passengers in the teen’s vehicle, and 96 others were killed in those crashes.
  • Illinois teens must log a minimum of 50 hours of driving practice before they can obtain a driver’s license.

A note about that last one… 50 hours might sound like a lot. To a teenager I’m sure it’s an eternity. But do you know how many hours of practice you need in the state of IL for a barbering license?! That is, a license to cut hair…. 1500 hours. 1500!!!! And only 50 to get behind the wheel of a car.

It’s entirely possible that in those 50 hours, you never experience driving in the snow or rain. You never experience driving with a car full of people or merging at rush hour or driving downtown in a major city. You’re likely driving during the day and are unprepared for night driving when there are different risks and everything looks different. How much are you really experiencing in 50  hours of practice with your mom?

drive it home show

Here are some great tips from Drive it Home to get you started with your teen drivers:

  • Drive at least 30 minutes each week with a newly licensed teen.
  • Work on high-risk situations together like driving at night, in the snow or rain, and with multiple passengers in the car.
  • Practice specific skills like judging gaps between cars (and turning left without the help of a stoplight), recognizing possible hazards ahead, and controlling speed.

I think one of the biggest things I realized from the Drive it Home Show was that it’s not just your teen, the driver. It’s also your teen, the passenger. Make sure your teen recognizes situations when they shouldn’t get in the car with another driver. Offer them suggestions on what to say and do. Also, just as important, teach them how to be a good passenger… to not distract the driver or entice unsafe behaviors.

drive it home show

At driveithome.org, parents can sign up to receive weekly driving practice tips and suggestions via e-mail and print, discuss, and sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. Check it out, you could safe a life.

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

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