Old News or not so Old News?
As long as teen auto accidents are preventable, our news is not by any means old news. A while back our mission was publicized by the Pioneer Press of St. Paul Minnesota. We’re compelled to share the the original Pioneer Press article by Mila Koumpilova:
That was some years back, and Ubl’s reaction was to ask each boy, luckily unharmed, “What were you thinking?”
But more recently, Ubl’s take on the twin mishaps has changed profoundly. She and another Twin Cities mom teamed up with a veteran driving instructor to create a DVD geared toward fellow parents of fledgling drivers.
The premise: Parents often shy away from talking about careful driving with their kids, and that might well be one key reason driving-while-a-teen remains such a perilous undertaking.
The DVD, “Roadworthy: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Teens to Drive,” aims to inspire parents to be more hands-on.
“As a parent, I had no idea I was supposed to teach them something,” said Ubl, of Champlin. “I thought I was supposed to ride with them and try not to freak out.”
It all started three years ago when Kelly Cusick, a video editor from Woodbury and mother of four, found herself in a two-hour session for parents — a mandatory piece of driving instructor Mike Pehl’s lessons. Cusick’s oldest son was gearing up to get his license.
Some parents grumble about the session, but to Cusick, it was eye-opening. ”I get them for 30 hours,” Pehl told the parents. “You get them for life.” So Cusick pitched the idea of doing a DVD to Pehl, who was instantly sold.
A former insurance company accident investigator, Pehl has countless gruesome cautionary tales about driver inexperience — and a passion for getting parents engaged.
His own children had to go a month without making any mistake on the road before they could apply for a license. So well did Pehl drive the point home that on his granddaughter’s first day of school, the girl sat behind the bus driver and, each time she caught his eye in the rearview mirror, she advised, “Get your eyes back on the road.”
With Ubl, a video producer, on board, the trio set out to counter a slew of parent-of-teen-driver misconceptions.
Some parents cancel driving practice in slippery conditions or shirk the fast pace of the freeway, leaving kids short on crucial experience. Others are a bit too eager to let their teens shuttle themselves to hockey practice or piano lessons.
“Parents don’t understand how important their role is,” Cusick said. “The bulk of the responsibility lies with them.”
Teens consistently report their parents’ driving advice and pointers carry major weight, said Ann Kulenkamp, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Safety Council. Yet, she said, “parents sometimes don’t realize the powerful role they play in influencing what happens with their teens behind the wheel.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, teens represented just over 6 percent of licensed drivers in the state in 2009, but they accounted for more than 12 percent of crashes.
To Pehl, parents alone have the power to change stubborn teen driver statistics.
The “Roadworthy” DVD features Pehl dispensing advice on anything from adjusting side mirrors to hitting the freeway. (To start, go early on a Saturday or Sunday, he says.)
Cusick and a younger son dramatize common situations such as arguing over who gets to back the car out of the garage on the first day of driving practice. (It had better be mom, Pehl will tell you.)
Pehl shares his rule of thumb: Only when parents feel comfortable kicking back with a coffee and a newspaper in the passenger seat might their kids be ready to go for their licenses.
Cusick (who is married to Kevin Cusick, a deputy sports editor at the Pioneer Press) offers to refund the $20 the DVD costs to any buyer who doesn’t find it helpful: “We don’t believe it’s possible for anybody for watch this without learning something.”
To learn more or buy the “Roadworthy” DVD, go online to www.drivesaferidesafe.com