Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Archive for April, 2009

Congress looks to enact nation-wide driving standards

Posted by lapearce on April 27, 2009

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y. is hoping to get national standards for driver’s training enacted in this country. For the first time, all states will have to abide by the same standard which include: permitting starting at 16, full licenses being granted at 18, limited passengers, curfew time and cellphone bans. All of these restrictions have proven to reduce deaths among new drivers.

The best part about the bill? If a state doesn’t enact the standards within 3 years, they lose their federal highway funding. That’ll get states on board!

The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act of 2009 aka STANDUP is on the right track with everything Bishop is trying to do. However, he’s still missing the number one cause of fatal crashes among teen drivers: inexperience. As of just last year the NHTSA identified immaturity and inexperience as being the leading cause of crashes among new drivers. AAA’s model curriculum lists “improving skills in evaluating risk” as a top goal for the program. How does one accomplish that? Here are some of the suggested areas of focus AAA recommends:

  • Visual skills
  • Hazard recognition
  • Acceleration and speed control
  • Error correction
  • Space management

This is exactly what we, and so many other non-profit car control clinics, teach.

This is our chance to improve driver’s training for everyone. What STANDUP already covers is a good first step, but we need to let the writers of this bill know that more needs to be done! I’ve already contacted STANDUP urging them to include better driver’s training in the bill. I hope now you see the logic behind better driver’s training as well and that you too will contact STANDUP and ask them to include hands-on car control based driver’s training as part of the nationwide standards.

Contact STANDUP and tell them how the bill can be improved

Contact your representatives, tell them to support an ammended STANDUP that ammends driver’s training.


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Teen driver admits he should have listened to me.

Posted by lapearce on April 22, 2009

I advocate safe driving to teens all over the place. Unfortunately, one of the kids who didn’t take me seriously crashed his car last week, but in the process, he “got it”. He realized the logic behind my argument.

“I am 17 years old. I was fortunate enough to get an 2001 BMW 330ci at 17 years old. I didn’t work a day in my life to get it, but I kept my parents happy. I didn’t abuse the car, as many of you will assume about a 17 year old. In fact I took care of it like it was my baby. Being young, I had more free time on my hands to wash/wax it as well as time to do a couple maintenance things.

Since owning the car, I am guilty of the typical teenage exploring. I have goofed off in parking lots. I have gone to the 128mph limit when I thought it was safe to do. I have always heard warnings from [Lauren]. Public roads are not safe. As I said, I was confident in my driving. I felt I was fully capable of controlling a vehicle at high speeds. It wasn’t until a week ago that I finally understood what [Lauren] was talking about.

I was cruising down a long windy road doing about 60-65mph windows down for a nice drive for the first nice day of the year. I had spent 3 hours that day detailing my car before the following occurred. Approaching to a turn I got on my brakes mildly hard (allowing for additional braking if needed). Just before it starts to turn there is a bump in the road for sewage inserted after the road was already made, followed by a slightly down hill turn. Going over the bump, on the brakes, the brakes locked up for the split second before ABS kicked in. My rear end slid out. I corrected myself keeping myself from head on collision with oncoming traffic, but overcorrected. I spun out, hit a pole (luckily going with the spinning motion), and slid to a stop.

I was speeding. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had been going speed limit in the same exact situation with the road defect, my car would still be alive. As many conditions/variables are in your hands, road condition (including animals) are not, and that’s all it takes, being at the wrong place at the wrong time. My passenger was ok, but let me tell you, the 5 seconds where you nearly beg your passenger to respond that he is ok makes it not worth it. Car is replaceable. A life is not.”

Cliff notes: he thought he was a better driver than he was, thought criticism from more experianced people was misplaced, but learned we were right after he wrecked his car. He managed to learn from the experiance, but 5,000 teens every year lose their lives gaining experiance about the dangers of driving.

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Driving classes fill up after fatal crash

Posted by lapearce on April 18, 2009

Cross bears witness to those effected by tragedy

Cross bears witness to those effected by tragedy

Following the deaths of Mark and Zach last week, CHP driving courses are filling up, according to the Orange County Register. I find it very sad that it takes a tragedy for people to care about something this serious. When car crashes are responsible for nearly 40% of teen deaths, why do we need a death to be convinced there is a problem?

I found an old statistic I used to use the other day, and unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to find the source. However, when this group asked parents what they thought the leading cause of death for teens was they said drugs, which is actually number four after car crashes, murder and suicide. Percentage that guessed right: 13%

It is a problem when people do not recognize a problem.  We need to let parents know how dangerous driving is to new drivers. We need to convince people that there needs to be better education. We need to change the attitudes surrounding driving. It’s not a right: it’s a privilege.

I always feel that if an action saves one life it is worth while. Is it the same if the death of a child results in the preservation of another? I don’t think you can swap lives that way. I really truely hope that as a result of Mark and Zach’s death lives were saved… I just wish their lives were also saved. I wish we could save lives without the loss of others.

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N.J. makes decal display for new drivers law

Posted by lapearce on April 16, 2009

Example of third-party  new driver decal

Example of third-party new driver decal

I blogged about this back when the bills were still moving through the legislature. Now it is official: New Jersey is the first state to require drivers under the age of 21 to display a decal identifying them as new drivers.

The purpose of the law is to make new drivers easier to spot by law enforcement in the hopes that they will drive more cautiously.

“Kyleigh’s Law” as it is called was named after 16-year-old Kyleigh D’Alessoi who was killed along with another teen in a crash. “The legislation I am signing today initiates several preventative measures to help avoid further teen driving tragedies like Kyleigh’s while ensuring that our young people are better prepared to safely take to the roadways,” said Gov. Corzine as he signed the bill into law at Central High in Chester Township, where Kyleigh was a student.

Along with requiring decals, the law will change the name of the provisional licenses to probationary, limits new drivers to one passenger, restrict driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and ban cell phones.

Other decal programs

While New Jersey may be the first state to require decals, it is not the first world-wide to do so. Australia, British Columbia, Northern Ireland and Japan are some of the other places that require decals. Delaware and Connecticut are considering similar requirements.

If you are not in New Jersey and would like a decal for your child’s car, the organization gives parents the opportunity to put “Hows my Driving” stickers on their teen drivers with similar hopes as New Jersey that the knowledge that they are being watched will make teens drive more cautiously. also sells stickers itendifying new drivers, but without a way to report bad drivers.

Posted in crash, innovation, law | 3 Comments »

Father of boy killed in Mustang crash starts foundation

Posted by lapearce on April 14, 2009

Zach Raffety

Zach Raffety

Carl Raffety, father of Zach Raffety, who was killed last Tuesday in a crash, is starting the Zachary Tyler Raffety Memorial Foundation in hopes of increasing awareness of the dangers of speeding, as well as making the road his son was killed on safer.

Zach was a passenger of Mark Motley, an 18 year old who lost control of his Mustang GT on a twisty road at a high rate of speed, slamming into a tree. Both boys were killed on the scene.

I have blogged about a similar case before, where the father of a teenager killed in a crash starts a foundation to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again. It is horrible that in this day and age, the only time someone comes with a solution is after they lose the life of a child. It would be so much better if we just gave them the solution now so these reactionary foundations wouldn’t have to be created.

I don’t want to seem overly critical of his foundation or his hopes to save lives, I just want him to save as many lives as possible, which is why i say, with all due respect to the Raffety family, that I feel the goals of the foundation are a little misplaced. His main hope is to improve the safety of  Live Oak Canyon Road, the twisting road where nine people have been killed since 2006. I just don’t think there is much room for improvement on the road. I also don’t think the road is at fault here.

He also hopes to create awareness for the dangers of speeding, but we already do that. Kids get it beat over their head that they shouldn’t speed, but they don’t listen. To quote the study on dangerous driving done by the NHTSA in 2006:

“Teen participants report that they ignore antispeeding campaigns and enforcement efforts that target this low level of speeding because they see no danger. But they need information about the very real risks of extreme speeding (speeds over 100 mph), which is very alluring to teens…

The young male participants believe that they are totally focused on the road ahead and can anticipate every action, thereby minimizing the risk of collision. They do not see their driving as being aggressive, just highly skilled.”

They don’t listen because they don’t think it will happen to them, and they think they are good drivers who can avoid bad situations. I guarantee you Mark did. All of Mark and Zach’s friends will now listen, but other teens won’t.

Mr. Raffety, if you want to have the greatest effect, I suggest you refocuses your foundation to go after the DMV and start lobbying for better laws. If you take your message to the state level, you’ll have a real shot at making sure what happened to Zach doesn’t happen again. I would be more than willing to stand by your side for this campaign. You have my support and my best wishes to you and your family.

Posted in advocacy, crash, program | Leave a Comment »

Driver of Mustang attended traffic school two weeks before fatal crash

Posted by lapearce on April 9, 2009

Mark Motley

Mark Motley

More information is being made available about Mark Motley, whose short life was cut short on Tuesday afternoon along with his friend, Zachary Raffety, when he lost control of his 300hp Mustang and slammed into a tree at a high rate of speed. They were 18 and 17, respectably.

Mark was your average young car enthusiast. Take this as a fact from someone who has been involved in the car scene since I was 15, and did my own stupid stunts when I was younger. He was excited about his car, he modified it, he knew everything about it. And he liked to drive it fast.

While Motley was not street racing when the crash happened, he was doing what we call a “canyon run”. This is when people drive at high rates of speed through twisty roads. This is behavior common among young, inexperiance car enthusiests who are unaware of the risks of this practice.

Officer Eric Barnard says, “The three friends had set out for an afternoon drive in two cars through the scenic and winding road, but speed and inexperience turned deadly when two of the three friends were killed ”

Mourning the loss

Mourning the loss

Evan Lancaster, 18 himself, sat next to Mark two weeks ago in traffic school, that both of them were taking to remove speeding tickets from their records. Lancaster illuminates the mindset that lead to Motley’s death, according to him Motley wanted to race with him a couple of times.

Talk about a failure of the system. The system that gave Mark his license. The system that failed him when it was unable to convince him not to perpetuate the dangerous behavior that got him a ticket just months before this crash. I wish the system worked. I wish that he never received that ticket because he understood the risks, or that he learned them after going to traffic school.

I know in my heart that so many lives would be saved if kids learned these lessons in a safe environment: instead of out on the street in life or deaths situations. I’ve seen the transformation that this type of education can have at my driving school. It is very humbling to these drivers for them to see how little they know. It is especially humbling when I, a female, run circles around them with my driving.

I work so hard to stop deaths like this, deaths that happen for all the reasons I fight again. It kills me when this happens.

We aren’t doing enough.

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Two local teens killed in crash

Posted by lapearce on April 7, 2009

A picture says a thousand words:
That is what happens when an 18 year-old-boy with absolutely no worthwhile driver’s training gets into an emergency situation with a 300 hp car.

This afternoon Mark Motley, 18, of Trabuco Canyon and his passenger, Zachary Rafferty, 17 were killed instantly after Mark lost control while driving his car at high speeds through a twisting road. The poor boy probably didn’t even know he was putting his life, and the life of his friend, at risk.

This crash was avoidable. It was avoidable with better education. We all think these things can’t happen to you. That your child, your friend, you will be safe out there. But until it does happen to you, you don’t understand just how fragile we all are. Why must we wait until someone we love is killed in a crash before we understand the danger? I hope that at least one person will read this story and make a change in how they, or someone they love, drives. If it saves one life…

My deepest condolences to the families of Mark and Zachary as well as to all of the boys’ friends. Demand changes today from the DMV, before another life is lost.

Posted in crash | 3 Comments »

Tire Rack’s Street Survival gets much deserved media coverage

Posted by lapearce on April 6, 2009

Another non-profit organzation, a joint venture by Tire Rack and the BMWCCA, Street Survival got some much deserved media coverage of their car control clinic held in San Diego this weekend.

This is what saves lives, not sitting in a class room or getting a driving instructor’s dry cleaning. I’m glad that programs like this are getting the attention that they deserve. Hopefully some day parents won’t need to seek these programs out, instead, they will be mandatory for all new drivers.

Oh the lives we’d save.

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Fast and Furious leads to more street racing deaths

Posted by lapearce on April 6, 2009

Fast and Furious raked in 72.5 million at the box office opening weekend. This is the best opening any film has ever had in April, and is true summer blockbuster-level earnings. It also means that over 10 million impressionable young minds were reminded this weekend about how cool street racing is.

I’m typically not one of those people who blames music for school shootings, or what not. however, there is a direct correlation between street racing incidences and Fast and Furious movies. According to Michael Bender, author of the new book The Fast, The Fraudulent;    The Fatal: The Dangerous and Dark side of Illegal Street Racing, Drifting and Modified Cars” The opening of the original Fast and the Furious in 2001 doubled the number of deaths associated with street racing:

“In 2001, the first “Fast and the Furious” movie was released and at least 135 people died in accidents from possible races; almost double that from the prior year. Many other statistics support the claim that these kinds of movies only exacerbate the problem, instead of taking steps towards its solution.”

California has been more active than any other state in trying to prevent street racing. If someone is killed in a street race, the racers can be tried for murder. If caught street racing your license can be removed and your car crushed.

But is it working?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, street racing deaths are on the rise, and the state with the highest number of deaths if California.

So what is the solution? The reactionary defense we have now of punishing street racing after it happens doesn’t seem to be working. Unless we can prove to kids that cars become more dangerous at high speeds, unfortunately, I think the way most of them will learn is when they are effected personally by a street racing tragedy, whether it be to them or to a friend.

Let us commemorate those killed recently due to this dangerous activity:

Cynthia Furr, her two-year-old daughter, and the 13 year old Hunter Holt, killed when a racing Eclipse slammed into Cynthia’s Mercedes on Sunday.

A 19-year-old mother was killed when she was racing another car with her infant and five other children in her car on Sunday.

Father and son killed when a racing truck hit their compact

Alexandria Drake was killed as the passanger of a car that lost control while racing. She was 25.

Founder of clothing line, TapouT, killed while he raced a Porsche with his Ferrari. His girlfriend was also critically injured. The man he was racing now faces murder and DUI charges.

This is just scratching the surface of incidences in the past week alone.

If you have a teenager who will be seeing Fast and Furious, or has seen any of these films, take them aside and spend a minute explainging the horor behind the hollywood glamorization of street racing.

Posted in Studies | 1 Comment »