Save Our Teen Drivers

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

Most deadly time for new drivers is here

Posted by lapearce on May 29, 2009

Jonathan Schulte and Gillian Sabet

Prom, graduation, late summer nights… put all those things together and you get a deadly combination for teen drivers. Each year there is an increase in crashes among teen drivers during this time.  I can remember deadly crashes happening in the area every year, each one just as tragic as the last. Young lives cut tragically short while celebrating the end of another school year, the passage of another milestone, or just a Tuesday night with no school on Wednesday.

The crash that I remember the most, the crash that many people in Orange County can’t forget, happened four years ago this past Tuesday on May 26, 2005.

It was prom night at Servite High School.  Jonathan Schulte and Gillian (Jill) Sabet were passangers of their friend’s SUV as their rode to the dance.  On the way the driver became distracted and the car started to drift. She over corrected causing the vehicle to roll killing both Jonathan and Gillian.

What distracted the driver? She was looking for a piece of gum.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jill’s parents at a recent AAA Teen Driving Safety Fair. They, like so many other parents, were moved to act after the death of their daughter, forming Journey Safe, which teaches teens about the danger of distractions. Their site has a beautiful memorial to both Jill and Jonathan, and says so elequently what should have happened to Jill and Jonathan instead of the fate they were met with:

Jill and Jonathan should have lived long and happy lives. They should have experienced the joy of their senior year in high school, graduation and college. They should have traveled around the world with their friends the way they wanted to. Whether to each other or to someone else, they should have married one day; they should have had children to love as they were loved so deeply by their own parents.

There are 6,000 stories that happen every year that are similar to Jonathan’s and Jill’s. For those that have been lost, their stories need to be remembered, and their legacies need to live on. For those still with us, there are steps that can be taken to help ensure that they make it to see another school year.

Three ways to protect your teen driver this summer:

  1. If you have a teen driver, enroll them in a supplemental car control clinic. Getting them behind the wheel teaching them safe driving practices is the best way to ensure their safety. These classes can cost a few hundred dollars, however, the cost is usually less than the insurance deductible if your child is in a crash. Here is a list of some upcoming classes I have found.
  2. Talk to your child about the dangers on the road. Believe it or not, they will listen to you. A survey of teens by NHTSA found that when it comes to driving, teens listen to their parents more than any other authority. So sit them down and talk to them about driving safely. I have links to AAA and NHTSA on the side that have good information on what to talk about.
  3. Set up a parent-teen driving contract. Teens with parents who set restrictions are 7x less likely to be involved in a crash. Don’t be afraid to set restrictions. Remind your child that driving is a privilege, not a right, and that they can lose that privilege if they do not respect it. The AAA Parent-Teen Driving Contract is very good.
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