Two Teens And Their Mama: Teens and Summer Driving

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Teens and Summer Driving

summer driving teens

This week I read that the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for teen drivers.   

Oh dear.  It's going to be a long summer for my two boys and my anxiety.

The reasons for this statistic were not what I expected.  It didn't have anything to do with texting or drinking and driving, although those are well known accident triggers.

First, teens are behind the wheel more during the summer.  They aren't just heading to school or work.  Rather, they are on their way to the beach or the amusement park, often on roads that are unfamiliar to them.

But the most surprising reason was this:  having other people in the car with them. According to the National Safety Council, the risk of a fatal car crash by a teen driver went up 44% when they had passengers in their vehicle.

Makes sense.  Having friends in the car talking loudly or messing around can be especially troublesome for a new driver.  Studies have shown that this can be even more dangerous than texting, since the distraction goes on for the entire length of the drive.  

Here in Washington State, new drivers aren't allowed to have any passengers except immediate family in the car for the first 6 months they have their license.  After that, they can drive up to three people age 20 and younger until they turn 18. 

Personally, I think three is too many.

At our house, there is the "law" law, and then there is "mom and dad's" law.  Until our teens have more driving experience, one extra passenger is the limit.  We make an occasional exception, but one is the general rule.  We've explained to our kids that when they are driving, they are in charge of the lives of everyone in their car - that's a lot of responsibility for a 16 year old.

I'm sure both of them have "forgotten" this rule a few times.  I hope they remember I have eyes everywhere - I know a lot of people in this town :).

In this case, my anxiety comes from actual experience.  In 2011, my older son's best friend was involved in a terrible car accident.  He survived with numerous injuries, but the young man who was driving was killed.  Speed was definitely a factor, but he also had two other boys in the car with him.  I have often wondered what was happening in the moments before the crash - were they fiddling with the radio, punching back and forth, joking and talking?  Innocent enough, and we've all done it.  The young man killed was a great student and athlete, and it hit our community very hard.  

We all need to be reminded sometimes to pay more attention when we're on the road. Michelle at A Dish Of Daily Life wrote a great post about distracted driving and the Decide To Drive campaign.  It's definitely worth a read.

driving

So to teens and their parents alike - drive safely this summer.  We still want you here when Labor Day rolls around.

18 comments:

  1. Thank you for mentioning my post. I came over because I saw your topic. I will have a new driver this summer. He's had his permit almost a year and he is going to get his license as soon as school is out. And I am nervous. He'll be driving back and forth to his summer job and I am sure some "fun" activities as well. I saw the statistics you quoted too...nerve wracking!

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    1. I'm sure he'll do great, especially if he's had his permit for almost a year. Hang in there - it's does get easier the longer they have their license.

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  2. Oh my goodness,yes anxiety!! My oldest is 12 and kind of dreading when this day comes.

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    1. Yeah, not my favorite part of parenting, but inevitable.

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  3. This would be anxiety-producing if I had kids. So many distractions today. Like texting.

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    1. If one of my boys gets caught texting and driving, that will be the end of the phone and the car. I can only hope they have heard me when I've told them this.

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  4. Enough cannot be said on this topic. I have personally never liked to drive - but knowing my kids are on the road is even worse. Even teens who are good drivers and following the rules are at risk - because there are so drivers out there who are not! I will be sharing this valuable post on Facebook.
    I am so sorry to hear about your son's friends.

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    1. Thanks Susan. It was a really terrible time. I worry about all the other drivers too!

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  5. I've been on high alert lately too. My son is about to graduate and he and his friends have been getting out of class early and heading to the mall almost every day. We had two boys killed in a car crash in our small town just last week, it's hit everyone really hard. I'll be praying my way through summer too!

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about the boys from your town - my thoughts are with you all. I'll be praying right along with you this summer!

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  6. Oh Lana! Thanks for the nice compliments. wow! I recall the nightmares of teaching my kids to be behind the wheel. eeeeeek. Just pray, a lot!!!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Renae. You are such an inspiration to me. Lots of praying gong on over here!

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  7. Than so much for this post. Driving is something we do so regularly we can oftentimes forget how dangerous it is - until it's too late. That's fantastic your keep your boys alert though as best you can!

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    1. Thank you Eileen. You're right - we all need to pay more attention - there are so many of us on the road!

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  8. Very, very important post here. Safety while driving is of the utmost importance, as you and your community well know. I'm pinning right now -- it's too important not to share!

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    1. Thanks Aubrey. It's always good to keep our awareness up, for us experienced drivers and the new ones.

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  9. I find that teens should be able to drive with as many kids as the law permits. If you find them irresponsible, then you can set a limit. But never set a limit from the very start, or your child will start to hate your laws, and break them. THere is no need to punish them before they even start.

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    1. I totally respect your opinion, but I don't see it as punishment. Driving is very serious business, and my kids are responsible for the people in their car. I don't expect that they are irresponsible, but they are easily distracted at this age. We'll have to agree to disagree!

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