Teens and unsafe driving - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 07-03-2010, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This has been on my mind a fair amount because it seems that with the advent of summer comes tragic news, too often, about teens and driving related crashes/fatalities. I'm so sad about what I see weekly around me in the news.

It's led me to wonder how parents of driving age teens handle "car rules"? We won't be there for another few years, but I'm thinking ahead. When I was growing up it wasn't too much of an issue until my senior year in HS, but I can't honestly remember my parents saying anything to me about safety when I got in the car with someone else. I didn't have my own car to drive until college.

How do parents and teens handle their conversations about this? I know that I want my kids to know that they can call anytime, from anywhere-no judgments made, if they are facing an unsafe situation and need a ride home.Or, we will always make sure that there is $$ for a cab, if needed. I can't really imagine being comfortable with my kids having the responsibility of driving other kids around. And do teens reach out for rides, or help from other responsible adults/peers if they need to? Does this really happen? What do your conversations sound like?

I want to think realistically about this. I hear over and over again how the kids who suffer loss of life in these accidents were wonderful, responsible and the last person anyone would think would be in an unsafe situation, so I don't delude myself into thinking that it can't/won't happen to my kids no matter how responsible they seem.

Thanks for any thoughts.
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#2 of 14 Old 07-04-2010, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, 60 views, and no one has encountered this issue?
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#3 of 14 Old 07-04-2010, 05:05 PM
 
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I'm not a parent yet, but I can talk a little about it from a being a teen recently, and watching my parents with my sister point of view.

I think telling your kids repeatedly that you are there for them to give them a ride, with no judgement (or little judgement) if they need one is important. I know my parents always told me that and while I never really drank or was in that type of situation, I knew they would come get me. We had a pretty open relationship about this (at least I did with my dad), so the few times I drank he knew. My parents sometimes drive my sister to and from an event, since they talk before that she will be drinking, even though they don't approve of her drinking. But they do know that she'll be safe if they come and get her, rather than lieing about drinking at the party and trying to get a ride home/drive home. They also have been known to drive 45 minutes each way in the middle of the night (11pm-3am) to pick up friends who were in unsafe situations (such as girls drunk, alone in unsafe neighboorhoods in the city, who didn't feel they could call their parents)

I think that having your kids feel ok to turn to you for a ride if there isn't a safe ride has more to do with their relationship to you than anything else. If they think you will flip/ground them for a month/yell/etc if they drink, are at x party, whatever, it won't stop them from doing it, but they are more likely to take an unsafe ride home. If they know that if there isn't a safe ride home, they can call you, and you can/will be calm, rational, and not flip, they are more likely to call you. (Not necessarily calm to the point of approving of them partying/drinking, but handleing it calmly in the moment, not yelling, getting mad, heavy punishment, etc). I think having an open enough relationship with your kids that they feel they can talk to you about it without judgement is key.

In terms of rides (not from parties), we weren't supposed to get rides from other teens (particularly not teens who couldn't legally give teens rides yet) but we did. There were times when it was walk a long ways, wait for the bus, then take a cab home from the bus stop, or get a ride. And if it was after a late afterschool activity, you can bet a ride from a friend felt safer than the bus. I know my sister also drove with friends before she was allowed to. We lived in a suburban town with no public transit, and you couldn't do anything if you had to plan a parental ride in advance.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#4 of 14 Old 07-04-2010, 07:46 PM
 
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Just some other stuff that you didn't ask about, but are my rules: DD's share a car. The are required to work out who has the car when. I will intervene as a last resort. If both have a place to be (ex. DD1 has work, and DD2 has a clarinet lesson) at overlapping times DH will drive me to work and one girl will get my car for the day.

Rules: They must text/call me where they are when they get there. (Exceptions include getting to school or a five minute drive in our neighborhood.) During car rides their phones stay in their purses or the glove compartments. If they have a friend in the car the friend is allowed to hold onto the phone. We have had a lot of talks on car safety. DD1 has been the designated driver before. (With family, not friends )

As for with my dd's: I simply sat them down once they were able to drive and told them. They can call anytime and someone will come and get them. (DD2 used this once - for reasons that had nothing to do with friends. DD1 never has.) I also extend the same courtesy to her friends - if they are with her and they all need a ride she can call me and I'll come get them. No questions asked, although there may be a conversation or two thrown in there depending on why she was picked up. If their friends call them and they need rides - well, that we have to talk about depending on the situation. But I would rather DD's prevent someone from driving drunk then letting them get behind a wheel.

And yes, teens really do count on each other for rides. DD2 has had friends pick her up from work before, has driven friends home countless times. Honestly - it's easier for both the parents and the kids. DD2 and her friend have taken to having a seven person carpool for play practice, (it's a twenty minute drive one way.) and it is so much easier then every single kid either getting a ride from a parent or driving separately.

In our state you have to have your license for more then a year before you can drive more then one person who isn't family. That rule gets broken all the time (I know DD does it) but she didn't until she had been driving for what I deemed was a safe amount of time.

As a side note: almost four years ago three boys ran to Walgreens for some drinks and snacks. It was a three minute drive. A man running from the cops t-boned their car. The passenger was killed instantly, the boy in the back seat walked away with minimal broken bones and the driver was in a coma for three weeks and is still slowly recovering. We teach defensive driving here and all of our kids know that even if it may not be them who is creating an accident they may still be involved in it. When you get around to having this talk, you need to remind your kids that even if they are driving safe they're not invincible.

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#5 of 14 Old 07-04-2010, 10:28 PM
 
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I kinda think it depends on the kid, and his or her friends. I told my daughter, "You can have mallorie, or Amber in your car....but, not Veronica". I like Veronica, but she's loud, and shrill. Nobody should ever drive with someone like that, much less a teenage driver.

She knew from day one, don't answer your phone and don't text... because I WILL happily take her car keys away if I find out.

Other than that, I think it's all a learning experience. She's not an unsafe risk taker to begin with, so I had to trust her common sense. All teens get in at least one wreck, hopefully when and if it happens to her, it will be a small one.
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#6 of 14 Old 07-04-2010, 11:43 PM
 
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My son went to the Driver's Edge program (driversedge.com). In Ca they have a provisional license for the first year and can't drive anyone under 25 without someone over 25 in the car too. I let him drive as much as possible when we go somewhere together, I want him to have a lot of experience with his mom's in the car driving so it becomes second nature for him. I model good driving behavior, too.

He knows driving is a privelege. We don't have texting so that's not a concern, but he doesn't answer his phone while driving. I just give him as much info as possible, he reads the paper too, and we talk about unsafe behavior we see while we are driving.

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#7 of 14 Old 07-05-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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My sons are almost 16 - and almost ready to get driver's licenses. The simgle most important thing you can do to help your kids become better drivers is to let them practice as much as possible with you in the car. I started letting my kids drive in deserted parking lots and rural gravel roads when they were around 10; since spring, I have insisted that they drive any time they are in the car. At first it was very quiet residential streets, but they've gotten increasingly comfortable with busier streets as their skills have improved.

We talk a lot about driving distractions. My kids are pretty serious about rules, and take safety very seriously. They think that texting while driving is just about the most idiotic activity on the planet! But we talk a LOT about driving safety, distractions, watching out for the other drivers, who might not be paying attention as well as you are.

My sons just finished Driver's Ed, and at the end of the class there was a parent's meeting. The DE administrator said "Your kids have completed 30 hours of classroom and 10 hours of behind-the-wheel training - and I promise you, they are NOT good drivers! We did our job, but you have the more important job - ride with them as much as you can".

Practice, communication, practice, strict enforcement of ground rules, and practice - those are my tips.

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#8 of 14 Old 07-06-2010, 03:34 PM
 
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we have the cell-phone rule as well - text when you get wherever you are going. She rarely drives other teens, and never too far. The fact that she does not have a car of her own and is not too social makes things a bit easier.

The talks? We talked about not being afraid to call if something happens. We are not worried about the car, just about her.

On our part, we made a point of driving with DSD as much as possible before she started driving on her own: after sunset, on highways and small roads, during rain, even a couple of times to the big city. I think making sure that they can have plenty of practice with you is about the only thing you can control. Sooner or later you'll hand over the keys.

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#9 of 14 Old 07-06-2010, 04:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
OK, 60 views, and no one has encountered this issue?
HI Karne,
I know how annoying that is when you write a post and see that many people have viewed it but not one answers!

In my case read it and just thought OMG I don’t know what to say! We also have a few years to go and I am already nervous thinking about it! One thing I know I’ll do is choose a very good driving school. I also hope to drive him to and pick him up from parties. I hope he will not find it too embarassing!
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#10 of 14 Old 07-06-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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Here's a lesson I'll teach DD when she's learning to drive in another 15 years or so!

If you get into an accident- call your parents yourself. and if you don't call your parents yourself, make sure your friend relays the fact that you're okay.

two months after i got my license my friend and I drove 2.5 hours to her dad's house for a weekend.

I was pulling out to go from her grandparents' house to her dad's house, which was literally across the highway and maybe two or three houses down. I didn't see the car coming and pulled out in front of it and got t-boned.

I was a complete mess (emotionally) and bleeding everywhere, etc (nothing major, just some glass in my arm). So my friend picked up the phone. First she called 911 and was so shaken up that she literally babbled until 911 just said the cops were on the way and hung up on her. Then she called my mom's office. My mom was at lunch, so she just left a message with a coworker that we'd been in an accident. So by the time this game of telephone gets to my mom it's as a message from the coworker that my friend called and we'd been in a car accident. My mom had no idea if I was even ALIVE. Now that I have a DD I get what she must have felt. She jumped in the car and was about 45 minutes away from her house when I finally called and told her that I was okay!

Oh! And here's another lesson learned from that adventure. I had my friend's 9 year old brother in my car. In the front seat. I had no idea that that was a bad thing to do. And honestly nobody ever even mentioned it to me afterwards, so they must not have thought it was bad, either. But it might be worth teaching your teens about what you consider acceptable as far as driving younger kids around (friends' siblings and such).

ETA: this is also a good example of why the "I was just going down the street" thing is never an acceptable excuse. I was literally just going across the street. I got into that accident leaving her grandparents' driveway and her stepmom heard the accident at her dad's house.

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#11 of 14 Old 07-06-2010, 05:00 PM
 
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My DH has learned to not just assume everything's fine - I guess that's what defensive driving's all about. Somebody is pulling out from the side street kind of fast? A teenager is likely to assume they will brake and are just stopping short. Indeed 96% of the time it's just that. But when you see it you immediately ask yourself, "what if that car doesn't stop?" It doesn't mean you have to go nuts slamming on your brakes left and right, but it's more like 1) take your foot off the accelerator at least 2) attempt to make eye contact 3) notice if you have space to swerve if you need to 4) observe car's "body language" etc. - and be prepared to brake hard the split second you conclude the car isn't stopping.

The salient point is that teens tend to drive like everything will go just as it should. People will stop at red lights. The other guy always sees you. Nobody is distracted. But it's just not so.

I plan to ask my kiddo what-if questions every now and then: "What if that car had run that light?" "There's a lot of cars parked closely on this street; what if a kid suddenly ran out from between them?" "It's raining pretty hard, what if it suddenly started raining so hard you lost visibility?" Get them used to the possibilities, and let them think about them. And guide them through beginner mistakes (like, you don't want to just slam on your brakes hard when you lose visibility in the rain - you'll get rear ended. But punching on the hazard lights might increase your visibility to other cars, plus of course you'll need to slow down.... etc.).

I know those aren't car rules - the PP's covered what I was thinking for those pretty much. The biggest concerns I think are invincibility (teens don't think they can get hurt/killed, and they think everything will happen just as it's supposed to) and peer pressure/distractions (drinking, showing off how fast you can drive, showing off texting or being on the phone, paying more attention to talking/music/giggling than driving, etc.).

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#12 of 14 Old 07-06-2010, 05:25 PM
 
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Another car rule: if your car is broken and you have to pull over - lock the doors and stay inside! Do not come out of the car, do not roll down your windows. Call us first, call AAA next.

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#13 of 14 Old 07-06-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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My oldest is 15.5 and will be old enough to get her permit in about 7 months. One of her friends just turned 17 but doesn't yet have her liscence. I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do if their 17yo friend gets her liscence soon (though her mom is pretty overprotective and may not even let her drive with friends in the car for a while.) So I may have another year or two until I'm truly facing this situation. I guess I'll figure it out when the time comes.

For now I let one of the girls sit in the front seat when I drive, and we talk about general car safety, how to look out for the "idiots" on the road and compensate for other people's unsafe driving, etc.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#14 of 14 Old 07-12-2010, 06:01 PM
 
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My childhood friend lost her mother in a car accident when we were little. She posted a youtube video about safe driving on her facebook page -that I won't link- because it is disturbing with fatalities.
I will say it has Evanescence singing in the background for those who decide to go search it.

My older dd is going to turn 16 soon and we are torn about the "RESPONSIBILITY" to drive. I say responsible because we want to give her the freedom and she is not showing us that she is ready for it. She cries when we discuss driving the car, getting a job, and going to college because she says it is too overwhelming. We ask her why she thinks that and she tells us that she already knows she is going to have tickets and her license will be taken away. She tells us that she doesn't think she can be responsible with the car.


Dh and I are stumped. She always seemed so anxious to do these things and now we can't even talk about it; much less try to plan out doing them. We decided to back off on job or driving, but we need her to take the classes she needs in prep for college. She will have the option of 2 years free tuition if she acts now. I am trying to let it be her dilemma..hard to hold my comments though.
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