When a child turns sixteen there is a universal feeling of excitement over the prospect of getting their drivers license. Dreams of freedom and independence race through their minds as the giddily await the day where mom and dad hand over the keys. While teenagers dream – mom and dad have nightmares worrying about whether or not they will be safe on the road. Fear of car accidents and reckless driving race through their mind as they await that dreaded moment when Junior asks for the keys.
Many states have enacted laws to help keep teen drivers safe by requiring them to gradually work their way up to complete driving access. Regardless of what your state requires parents have the right, and should, make rules of their own. Your teen may protest but it is better to have an angry teenager than an injured or dead one. Over 5,000 teens die in car accidents every year –more than from any other cause. It is critical that parents take enforcing safe driving practices seriously in order to keep their children safe. Yes, turning 16 is an exciting time and one to look forward to but turning 17 is even more important.
Here are some things you can do to protect your kids:
- Driving Classes. It is essential for teens to take a drivers education course. They need to learn the rules of the road, classroom style, then practice driving with an instructor. Driving can be dangerous so working with an instructor in a safe environment is critical. They need to learn how to do things like quickly break, use their turn signal, use their mirrors etc. before ever driving on the road.
- Defensive Driving. Teens need to practice looking for potential accidents. One way to do that is to have them look for dangers while riding with you. Have them point out potential hazards like children playing with the basketball or the stop sign that cars often run. They need to recognize the dangers of the road so that they can respond quickly.
- Practice. Have your teen practice with you or another adult in the car for a couple months. A few times out is simply not enough. Make sure they are driving like a pro before you stop riding with them.
- Cell Phones. Do not let your teen drive with a cell phone. Demand that they place it in the glove box or out of reach so that if it goes off they are not tempted to check a text and use a phone while driving. Cell phones contribute to 28% of accidents and allowing them to use one while driving is a receipe for disaster.
- Friends. Establish a rule that they cannot drive with friends for the first six months. Having friends in the car may cause your teen to push the limit to show off or cause them to be distracted. Keep them safe by allowing them to drive solo.
- Curfew. Do not let your teen drive late at night. Determine what time you are comfortable with and enforce a curfew. That curfew may be earlier than one they have now but driving while tired can have the same effect as driving drunk. Do not put your teen at risk by letting them drive late.
Talk to your teen about what to do in the event that they are in an accident. Make sure they have an insurance agent and the agents contact information with them at all times. It is also a good idea to have an attorney on hand for emergencies. Most teens get into some type of car accident, even if a minor bump in the parking lot. Having an attorney on hand to call allows your teen to receive instructions on how to handle the accident. Attorneys like Davis, Saperstein & Salomon offer free consultations so there is no harm in calling. Stress with your teen the importance of staying safe and that as they prove they are responsible they will gradually gain more freedom on the road.
Protect yourself in the event of an accident
Auto insurance is a necessity for any driver. Some people may challenge this statement due to a conflicting opinion on whether or not they should be “required” to have insurance. If you have the finances to pay for injury to yourself or your car in the event of an accident insurance may seem arbitrary. The problem is that accidents are just that – accidents. If you could plan for an accident and the amount of damaged that would be caused then save money accordingly it would no longer be an accident. It would be a plan. Since I don’t know any drivers that “plan” on getting into a car wreck insurance therefore becomes important. The trick is making sure your insurance covers everything you may need.
Review your policy to make sure it has the following components:
- Uninsured motorist coverage. If someone hits you that is uninsured and you don’t have this as part of your policy the insurance company may deny some or all of your claim. According to Frank Jenkins Law blog there are some states like Kentucky that require drivers to have insurance making this less of a concern. Find out if this is a requirement in your state by calling the insurance commissioner or DMV.
- Comprehensive coverage. This will cover everything not accident related like theft or hitting an animal (more important if you live in the woods).
- Collision coverage. This is the big one – make sure you are covered in the event of a car accident.
- Medical. Make sure your insurance policy will cover your medical expenses in the event of an accident. Medical expenses are often more costly than the actual damage to your vehicle.
- Gap Coverage. Most people are unaware of Gap coverage and why you should have it. Lets say you purchase a brand new truck for $43,000 on a zero down special. As soon as you drive the truck off the lot you will probably owe more than its worth on a private party resell. If you then get into an accident that totals the car your insurance company will pay the value of the car toward the loan. If you owe more than it was worth you could end up owing the bank money. Gap coverage pays the difference between what the car is worth and what you owe.
There are many insurance companies to choose from so get quotes from multiple carriers to determine the best policy and pricing for you. Understanding the different components of insurance is important for comparing “apples” to “apples”. For example if you compare a policy with a $500 deductible to one with a $1,500 deductible the second policy should cost you less per month. Make sure the policies offer the same amount of protection, financial coverage, and deductibles to get a true quote comparison. Stay alert and remember the best way to avoid an accident and needing insurance is to practice safe driving.
Distracted drivers put people at risk.
If most teenagers, and many adults, had their way a smart phone would be permanently glued to their hand. With texting, emailing, Facebook, Twitter, games, navigation, pictures, video and chat people are glued to their phones. We live in a hyper-connected world and many people do not know how or when to finally put the phone down. On a daily basis I see drivers talking on their phone, texting and looking at the internet. Whether it is the car in front of me ignoring the green light or the teenager texting while she swerves through traffic – using a smart phone while driving is simply not smart.
Part of the problem is that everyone is in a hurry. Driving causes a temporary communication delay in text, email and chats – a delay that many people are unwilling to have. Choosing to stay connected around the clock these drivers put everyone else at risk. It is important for each one of us to understand what we are putting in jeopardy. Districted drivers cause accidents and accidents lead to personal injury, property damage and even death. Recently at the State Fair I saw a car that was completely crushed on one side. The front left fender, driver’s door, and side panel were crumpled up like a napkin with all the windows broken. I thought it was the standard “don’t drink and drive car”. While those are an important warning I am fully aware of the dangers of drinking and driving so it doesn’t normally capture mine, or the crowds, attention. I saw a crowd standing around the car so I walked over to see what the fuss was about. To my surprise the accident was not caused by drunk driving – it was caused by texting. A teenage girl was texting on her way to school and because she was distracted she ran a light, was hit by an SUV and killed. Her life was taken in the blink of an eye simply because she could not wait to finish driving before texting her friends. According to Mariano Morales Law Firm it is accidents like these that caused Washington State to ban texting while driving.
Staying connected through your phone is not worth risking your life or the life of anyone else. What difference will it make if someone does not hear from you in the next ten minutes? Will they die? Will the world stop turning? No – they will simply want to text you back again. If the matter is so urgent than pull over and call them back. Regardless of your age, experience driving, time of day or where you are going – driving while on your smart phone is not safe. Respect yourself and everyone else on the road by pulling over.
It helps to be prepared…
The sound of tires squealing and metal on metal as a two cars crash together –there can be nothing more frightening than the moments leading up to a crash while a driver desperately tries to move out-of-the-way of an out of control vehicle. As a safe driver, using your best defensive driving skills, there may be no way to avoid getting in a wreck. It could be that the other driver is busy listening to Maroon Five while lining her lips with the latest shade of pink or maybe it’s the guy texting his budding while speeding through the red light after meeting up for beer. Unfortunately good drivers have to share the road with bad ones.
With over 6 million car accidents in the United States every year drivers should know what to do in the event that you find yourself on the receiving end of a driver not paying attention. On the blog for Attorneys Millar & Mixon they give the following advice on what to do incase you are in an accident:
- Pull over to the side of the road and signal the other driver to do the same. If this is impossible due to the severity of the accident stay put and wait for the authorities.
- Call the police or state patrol. Even if everyone appears to be physically safe call the authorities. Ask them to come and fill out an accident report. Without an accident report it becomes a “he said” “she said” situation in court.
- Exchange insurance and ID information with the other party. If you have a camera phone take a picture of their ID, license plate, vehicle, and insurance card. Make sure that the address on their ID is current – do not assume. Also get a phone number and email address.
- Take pictures of the scene with your phone. Photograph both of your vehicles from various angles (up close and far away), the road going both directions, street signs and anything else that would tell the story of where and how it happened.
- Write down notes, even on scratch paper, of your account of what happened. Make sure to include the time and every detail from before, during and after the accident including anything the other driver told you.
- If your accident was severe call your family and let them know what happened. If you are being transferred to a hospital they will likely want to meet you there and may even want to come to the scene of the accident to wait with you.
- Call an attorney, set an appointment and take the notes, pictures and accident report with you.
On a personal note two years ago I was t-boned while driving to work. I was going straight (cars tend to do that) minding my own business when a driver did a u-turn into me. I was frazzled, upset and shocked. It may sound dramatic but it seriously threw me off my normally cool and steady mindset. Since I wasn’t thinking clearly I didn’t document anything other than getting the guys insurance information. Two years later there is a legal fight to prove it was his fault. What I thought was common sense (driving into the side of someone’s car is wrong) is requiring information that if I had followed the steps above – I would have had. Hopefully you will never be in an accident. In the event that you are follow these tips to make sure you are covered.
A few weeks ago, emergency sirens sounded for tornado drills and emergency rehearsals everywhere. Businesses and Schools participated in collective emergency procedures for severe weather awareness week. Tornado drills need detailed plans and practiced evacuations to help keep staff and children calm and focused in the event of a true emergency.
For those of us who prepare at home, it is common knowledge that when a tornado warning is issued, certain precautions are necessary for our family’s safety. For example, moving away from windows and glass doorways, moving to the innermost part of the house on the lowest possible floor or basement.
“What if I’m driving near a touchdown tornado?”
What if you are not at home or in a building, rather, in your car instead? What then? The curious question for many of us who need to feel ready is “What if I’m driving near a touchdown tornado?” This situation is not easily rehearsed, so, there is no single right answer… no guaranteed way to save your life when you are out in the unprotected elements. When faced with this kind of danger, like a hurling weather beast, the right thing to do is contingent on your surroundings. However, there is plenty advise out there to take into consideration for the “What ifs,” that may save you.
First The Facts:
- The most extreme tornadoes can attain wind speeds of more than 300 miles per hour, stretch more than two miles across, and stay on the ground for several miles
- (The most extreme tornado recorded was the “Tri-State Tornado,” which had barrelled through 3 states in 1925, holding the record for longest path length of 219 miles)
- A majority of tornadoes in the world occur in the United States region nicknamed “Tornado Alley,” although they can occur anywhere in North America.
- The weakest category tornado can damage trees while the strongest category tornadoes have been known to cause hundreds of deaths.
- F2s and F3s can tear roofs apart and lift cars off the ground.
- An F5 or EF5 tornado, the strongest category, can rip buildings off their foundations.
- Tornadoes can throw debris at dangerous speeds of 100 mph or more.
- Debris from a tornado can be lofted into the parent storm and carried a very long distances.
The Professional Advice
Knowing the facts and professional’s advise ahead of time might help you make life saving decisions in what ever Tornado predicament you find yourself in. Some advise appears to be conflicting and criticized (such as this weather blog debate) while most advice seems quite common sense but very conditional to the environment and status of the tornado itself. Ultimately you will have to weigh your options in a split second, that is to say if you have more than one option.
- Unless the tornado is far away and highly visible, meteorologists advise that drivers park their vehicles far to the side of the road (so as not to block emergency traffic), and find a sturdy shelter.
- If no sturdy shelter is nearby, getting low in a ditch is the next best option.
- Highway overpasses are one of the worst places to take shelter during tornadoes, as the constricted space can be subject to increased wind speed and funneling of debris underneath the overpass.
- Fox nine weather says “If you’re on the road when a twister touches down, it’s best to pull over, get out and get as low as possible.” Read more from Fox 9
- Red Cross advises: “If you cannot get to shelter, a recent study* suggests doing the following: Get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt, and try to drive at right angles to the storm movement and out of the path.”
- Red Cross advises: “If strong winds and flying debris occur while you are driving, pull over and park, keeping seat belts on and the engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.” Read more from American Red Cross
- Then there is the best advise, that is to avoid driving into that situation at all by tuning in to your local weather stations
- Beware of Tornado watches, especially Tornado warnings in your area. Thanks to modern radar technology there’s a slim chance you’ll be driving into a tornado if you stay informed.
So there you have it! A video with some pretty convincing facts to face, thanks to ”Stop the Texts.Stop the Wrecks.” texting and driving prevention campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council.
In the future we will be happy to share and pass on more videos like this to discourage distracted driving among teens and young drivers. To see more videos like this one, visit our
Drive Safe Blog Video Gallery
or stop by the official channel for viewing public service advertisements at
“Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.”
“How Will You Remember Your Prom?”
Prom is coming soon, time to send out Prom safety reminders. Watch this PSA video filmed by a Nampa High School student for a www.madd.org contest.
Thank you both… for your good works.
Nampa, Ada County Sheriffs Office, Paramedics and Meridian Fire Department Continue reading