April is “Distracted Driver Awareness Month” and a couple of weeks ago Allstate and the National Safety Council sponsored an event at the Jean Runyon Theater in Sacramento to help parents understand their pivotal role in teaching teens to be safe drivers. The event featured Second City comedy skits and helpful insights from John Ulczycki, Vice President of Strategies for The National Safety Council.
The comedy skits focused upon cautioning parents with humor about the folly of distracted living and driving, by showing a typical family whose communication is thwarted by mom constantly checking her smart phone in the middle of important conversations about driving habits and other teen issues.
Mostly the parents in the skits were freaking out and making their teen driver nervous. The audience was howling. The youth were nodding their heads in agreement. So were many of the adults who recalled how their parents taught them to drive.
Julie Dominick is an Allstate agency owner based out of Lincoln. “As I watch these skits about parents in the car trying to teach their teens how to drive, I have flashbacks of my own experiences as a teenager with my parents,” Dominick mused. “And we are here tonight for a very serious reason. Fifty percent of teen drivers will have an accident of some sort of accident before graduating high school. And the number one killer of teens in the United States is auto accidents.”
Dominick offered another way to think about it. “Annually we loose 4,000 teens to car crashes, which is the equivalent of eight high school graduation classes per year,” she said.
Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul. Proverbs 29:17
John Ulczycki is the Group Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the National Safety Council.
“The most important thing we can do for our teenage drivers is model the way we want our children to drive,” Ulczycki said. “The number one reason teens get into crashes is because of inexperience, and they need to witness how it is done correctly starting at a very early ages as passengers in your car.”
Below are some helpful insights from Ulczycki:
- Parents make the rules at home about driving to fit each child based upon their individual strengths and weaknesses (you can require more hours of practice than the law, for example)
- Do not allow the mobile phone to distract either of you from the important business of driving
- Teach your children to scan the road to anticipate traffic flow, ask your teen driver what she sees ahead as you are accompanying her for practice
- Enforce the provisional license because kids are easily distracted by others in the car
- Give your teen plenty of practice with you driving in all conditions, such as wet roads, rush hour traffic and night time
- Once your teen is granted a license, keep riding with them and lower the risk of accidents
- Keep practicing the challenging stuff, entering the highway, pulling out of a parking lot and left turns
Driver distraction temptations keep coming: Google Glass
Check out this video below to see what Google has in store: Google Glass is in beta. Pretty amazing!
The anticipation of Google Glass inspired preemptive legislation in West Virginia to make it illegal to wear the Google fashionable mobile device while driving, as reported in Hands Free Info a couple of weeks ago.
Google’s next big product launch, Glass, is head gear in beta testing that puts the smart phone screen in your field of vision much like the holograph on StarTrek the next generation, or The Terminator viewing data and instructions.
The main concern raised is that laws on the books make driving with “hands free” devices legal. Google Glass would be hands free, but would also interfere with your field of vision while driving.
Chris Crochran is the Public Information Officer with the California State Office of Transportation Safety. “In general we can say that safe driving means that all your concentration needs to be on the road, and anything that interrupts either your physical, visual or mental attentiveness is potentially dangerous,” he said.
The question remains, will more laws make us safer?
Adrian Quintero is the Public Information Officer for The California Highway Patrol, Valley Division (Sacramento). According to Quintero the distracted driving problem for teenagers is largely a matter of family business.
“We are all put at risk by distracted driving,” Quintero said. “Families set their own boundaries and parents need to communicate and enforce what they expect of their child when he is behind the wheel.”
Quintero requires his 17-year-old to put the mobile phone in the trunk of the car while driving so there can be no temptation. “There is a natural anxiety about responding to texts,” he said. “So I have her put the phone in the trunk so she can focus on driving safely.”
Free safe driver training for you and your teens:
Joanna Jullien is an author and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, a contributor for Three Moms and a Mike, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays