Save Our Teen Drivers

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

Archive for the ‘advice’ Category

STANDUP must go beyond “no”

Posted by lapearce on October 5, 2010

Police Captain, and father of a teen killed in a car crash, speaks for STANDUP

The family members of teens killed in car crashes recently made a plea to Congress to pass the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection– or STANDUP— act.  The act would put uniform standards nation wide on drivers under the age of 18, increasing the rules that young drivers have to abide by.

Stricter teen driver laws, also known as graduated driver’s licenses, do a lot to reduce crashes and deaths among teens.  The laws do work, and uniform driving standards would be an excellent addition to our nation,  however, I think to truly stop the epidemic of teen driving deaths we have to go beyond telling teens “no”.

The real reason why car crashes account for 40 percent of teen deaths, in my opinion, is because of a lack of education on how to drive and over emphasis on what not to do.  Just saying no doesn’t work with teens– don’t driver after 10 p.m., don’t drive with friends, don’t drive with your cell phone– can encourage kids to act out by doing what they aren’t supposed to do.  The why do these no’s also aren’t fully enforced in current teen driving education.  Just saying no isn’t the solution, putting a teen in a car in a controlled environment and showing them the why behind the no can go much further.

Germany has much stricter driver’s education and driving laws than the United States do.  Not only do teens not get the opportunity to drive until they are 18, teens also go through much more intensive training (28 hours in the classroom and 35 hours behind the wheel compared to as little as no formal training in the United States) and a far more rigorous testing process.  Germany teens know that driving is a privilege, and they are made aware of the consequences of treating it as anything else.  As a result, teen driving deaths in Germany are far less than in the United States.

For teen driving deaths to drop in the United States we need a complete overhaul of the system, not just in the restrictions teen drivers face after they get their license, but in the training they receive before they are allowed to drive on our roads.  We need to change the mindset of the American public when it comes to driving.  It is a privilege and not a right, that paradigm shift within the American psyche will do a lot to curb teen driving deaths.

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The victim mentality

Posted by lapearce on October 3, 2010

We are a nation of victims.  It seems like it is always someone’s fault when something happens, there is always someone to blame.  Overweight? Blame Starbucks.  Alcoholic?  Blame mom.  Get in a car crash?  Blame the other person, the government organization that maintains the road, the company that made your car, the mechanic who replaced your brakes, the list can go on and on.

I’ve never liked calling a crash an accident because accident implies a lack of fault.  Yet even though people will call something an accident it won’t stop them from pointing fingers and filing lawsuits against anyone who may have money to pay out.  Recently Hyundai settled a lawsuit that stemmed from a fatal crash killed by a drunk executive, who was then helped out of the country by a fellow Hyundai employee.  In this case there was definitely someone at fault– Youn Bum Lee who chose to drive drunk then chose to flee the crash scene and chose to leave the country.  The company that employed him did not make Lee drive drunk, nor did they instruct the other employee to help him flee.  Many times though, fault isn’t so clearly delineated.

While there may be someone who is at fault for a crash, that doesn’t mean that the “victim” was helpless in avoiding the crash.  Last night I was making a left hand turn around midnight after seeing the movie Wall Street (wait for HBO).  It was a double left turn onto a three-lane road.  I was in the outside lane and another car was on the inside lane.  As a defensive driver, I allowed the other car go a head of me and stayed behind the car as we made the left hand turn.  Thankfully I did this because the distracted, teenage driver who was too busy chatting on her phone to pay attention to what she was doing, chose to turn into the far right lane instead of the inside lane that she was supposed to turn into.  Had I been next to her she would have hit me.  It would have been her fault (hard to prove in a sideswipe for your future reference) but just because it would have been her fault doesn’t mean that I was helpless to avoid the crash.  By driving defensively I kept my car in one piece.

I tell all my teen drivers to always assume the other driver isn’t paying attention and to anticipate their next move.  If the person behind you isn’t paying attention or has a bad habit of stopping late then change lanes and let them get in front of you.  That way if they fail to stop they won’t be crashing into your car.  When you stop in traffic, or at a light, make sure to always leave room in front of you and look for an exit.  If the car behind you doesn’t stop in time you at least have a way to reduce the impact.  And, before you go at a green light check for red light runners.

All of these defensive driving techniques will help you not become a victim.  And if you are involved in a crash don’t be afraid to ask yourself what you could have done to avoid the collision.  It will be a good lesson for the next time you are in a similar situation.

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Is it an accident or a crash? Who is to blame when your teen wrecks a car?

Posted by lapearce on August 25, 2009

Warning sticker about roll over risk, speed, abrupt manouvers and seatbelts in an SUV

Warning sticker about roll over risk, speed, abrupt maneuvers and seatbelts in an SUV

Many people in the auto safety industry refuse to call wrecks accidents. That is because an accident implies that no one was at fault. That everything just happened and the drivers involved could not have stopped the collision no matter what they did. Typically that isn’t the case. Even when vehicle failure causes a crash a lack of maintenance on the driver’s fault is the actual cause. Instead, we call wrecks crashes. It is more accurate as it doesn’t assume that no fault can be assigned.

Now that the word accident is out of your teen driving vocabulary, who is at fault when your teen crashes? Let’s look at the case of Brandon Hodges of Jacksonville Florida. He was driving a Ford Explorer with nine people in it when a tire blew out. He was unable to control the car and it flipped. Only Hodges was wearing a seat belt and four teens were tragically killed in the crash.

The families of Hodges and one of the victims blame the tire manufacturer for the crash. Bobbie Krebs, mother of one of the teens killed said,

“The person to blame is the person that made that tire. … I’m not going to let him [Brandon] take the fall for them.”

But is Brandon taking the fall for the tire company, or is the tire company taking the fall for Brandon? Brandon was fifteen at the time of the crash. He didn’t have a license and was allowed to drive. He was driving a car with more passengers than seat belts (not that it mattered much since no one was using those belts). He was speeding.

But Hodge’s lawyer says none of these things are a factor in the crash, that it is all the fault of Cooper Tire who made the tire. He adds that the case reminds him of the Firestone lawsuit nine years ago. That comment reminds me of a cop out and dollar signs.

A number of Ford Explorers rolled about a decade ago due to defective Firestone tires that suffered from tread

A tire defect PLUS underinflation caused Explorer roll overs

A tire defect PLUS underinflation caused Explorer roll overs

separation when the tire was underinflated.Yes, the tire was defective, but a driver who properly maintained his/her SUV’s tire pressure was immune to the defect. Fact is tires rarely blow out without reason. Typically they are under inflated, over inflated or bald. Sometimes they hit an object in the road causing damage to them. But even in the case of the Firestone roll over scandal owners were also at fault for the crashes they were involved in. They were not accidents, they were crashes. They were avoidable.

“When under inflated, all radial tires generate excessive heat,” Crigger said. “Driving on tires in this condition can lead to tread separation. Maintaining the proper inflation level will enhance the performance and lifespan of these tires.” –Firestone

Even if the tire on Hodge’s girlfriend’s family’s SUV was defective it doesn’t detract from the fact that he was unlicensed and speeding. Just because a blow out happens doesn’t mean a crash is inevitable as well. Proper driver’s training and experience give people the necessary skills to remain control after a blow out. As an unlicnsed driver, these are two things that Hodges definitely did not possess. Would it have been completely avoidable with a licensed driver? No. People panic and they react poorly in emergency situations. Is there a higher probability that the crash would have been avoided with a licensed driver? Yes. 100%.

What message do we send to teens when we blame others for their actions?

Teens all across Florida are learning right now that they aren’t at fault when something goes wrong with their car because of the actions of Hodge’s family and lawyer. Hodges did still break the law, regardless of what other factors went into the crash and he should be held responsible for doing so. In our litigious society where everyone sues everyone for everything we are constantly shifting blame. I think we are breeding a generation of people who will feel that they are not responsible for their actions and fail to own up to them or work to resolve them.

Should parents be held responsible for the actions of their teens?

By holding parents responsible you are shifting the blame away from the teen. Even though that is true, parents can still be held responsible for their teen’s actions and have an effect on what their young drivers do. From a legal perspective you are responsible for what your teen does up until the age of 18. Anything they do wrong behind the wheel can come back to you in the form of one of the lawsuits I mentioned in the last section.

I do believe that some crashes are partially caused by negligent parents. Parents control their teens driving. Parents who do not enforce graduated drivers license rules, or who do not take away the keys when their teen is being dangerous on the road have some responsibility in their teen’s actions. Parents need to remember that teen brains have not fully developed and they do not recognize risk the same way adults do. What is stupid and dangerous to us is fun to them. Parents need to watch over their teen drivers and not be afraid to take away the keys if their young drivers are not being safe.

Of course, Hodge’s family is just trying to keep Brandon out of jail and if that means throwing Cooper Tire under the bus that is what they’ll do to keep their sixteen-year-old out of the big house. I’m sure many parents would lie if it meant keeping their child out of prison. It is hard to blame them for the goal they are trying to achieve, but I criticize them for the methods they are employing.

Posted in advice, crash, law, parents, teen driver | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ford admits that costly blind spot system are pointless

Posted by lapearce on August 21, 2009

Volvo and Ford offers this. I think Mercedes does too. It drives me up the wall. In case you haven’t seen the ad it looks like this:

“Alex is about to collide with a motorcycle that is squarely in his blind spot…” but because his Volvo has the nifty Blind Spot Information System (BLIS because BSIS isn’t as catchy) system, he’ll be alerted to it and not kill the dumb motorcycle driver who is trying to pass him on the right when he has his turn blinker on. However, Alex wouldn’t need to rely on his fancy $700-$1,600 (cheaper on the Volvo than on a Ford believe it or not) dollar BLIS system  if he just adjusted his mirrors properly.

I can hear you getting mad already. But all cars have a blind spot, you are thinking. No, they don’t. In a New York Time’s interview Ford’s chief safety engineer, Steve Kozak, says that proper adjustment of the side mirrors illuminates blind spots. But adds, most drivers don’t adjust their mirrors that way so BLIS is a valuable safety aid.

Steve Kozak, Ford’s chief safety engineer, acknowledged that side mirrors can be set to eliminate the blind zone. But most drivers don’t adjust their mirrors that way so BLIS is a valuable safety aid, he said.

Que the head banging.

The problem starts when we are 15 1/2 and we are sitting in driver’s ed. And the instructor, who we all assume knows what he’s talking about because someone said he could  teach us all how to drive, teaches us SMOG: signal, mirror, over the shoulder, go, as the proper way to change lanes. Why look over your shoulder trusty driving instructor? One may ask. Why, he says, to check your blind spot. But why is there a blind spot trusty driving instructor? Because the DMV says so.

On page 12 of the handbook designed to help parents teach their teens how to drive in California it clearly says that to change lanes you need to “check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder” In the section on page 5 about preparing to drive it has one line about mirrors, and that is, “adjust the mirrors” but how? The DMV doesn’t say. The DMV doesn’t tell teens the proper way to adjust their mirrors so that they don’t have a blind spot, because the DMV in all its infinite wisdom doesn’t believe it is possible. All they’d have to do is adjust the mirrors as columnist Christopher Jensen explains in the article and see that the blind spot is gone. But that would probably mean getting a multi-million dollar grant to confirm. Gotta love bureaucracy.

Drivers think that blind spots exist because they were taught they exist when they were learning how to drive. Better information from licensing organizations would solve this problem.

Steve is right. There is no blind spot if the mirrors are properly adjusted. Ford (who owns Volvo in case you didn’t know) could have saved millions in research and development if instead of developing a camera that flashes a red light when ever a car is next to you instead they produced a small pamphlet on how to adjust the mirrors and distributed it to all their dealerships. The salespeople could be taught how to adjust mirrors and as they teach the buyer all the features of their new car help them adjust their mirrors. Problem solved for the cost of 2 minutes of a salesperson’s time.

Of course, if you still don’t believe me that blind spots are myths (I would love to come adjust your mirrors and prove you wrong and highly suggest you try the method mentioned in the article for yourself) I offer you the less expensive option to solve them. The two dollar blind spot mirror. Now go take that 700 you saved on your BLIS system and send it at on a quality driving school.

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Alcohol isn’t the only substance that lead to teen car crashes

Posted by lapearce on August 19, 2009

About a third of fatal teen crashes involved alcohol. It is a scary number and it obviously means that something needs to be done about this epidemic of drunk driving from teen drivers. Lack of understanding of their tolerances, and the feel of invincibility makes teens more susceptible to drinking and driving, even if they cannot legally drink. Just last week a local teen, Milad Moulayi, was found guilty of second degree murder when, at the age of 17, he drove his mother’s Mercedes Benz at speeds in excess of 100mph down a city street, crossed into on coming traffic and hit a light pole, killing his 16-year-old passenger. He had a bac of .11.

While parents need to talk to their teens about the dangers of drinking and driving and make sure they know that you are always able to pick them up and drive them home no matter where they are or what time it is, there are other substances that need to be discussed as well.

One of these substances is pot. The NHTSA found that while drunk driving is decreasing, stoned driving is on the upswing. On any given night roughly 9% of drivers are high on marijuana, compared to just over 2% who hit the bottle before getting on the road.

The biggest problem with driving while stoned is that the driver often thinks that they are driving just fine and many times often think they are safer drivers than when sober, as a NHTSA focus group found. However, a recent study showed that slow reaction time makes stoned driving just as dangerous as drunk driving.

Over the counter drugs are also a problem. About 4 percent of night time drivers are under the influence of prescription pills, many illegally. This problem is especially prevalent among teens, who raid their parents medicine cabinets or buy their classmate’s medication at school. It is estimated that 1 in 5 teens abuse presription paint drugs. Many of these pills carry that familiar warning: may cause drowsiness, do not drive or operate heavy machinery.

The dangers don’t stop at typical drugs that we expect, there are other meneses out there that are discounted because they aren’t seen as a drug. Huffing, the act of inhaling materials such as electronic duster or spray paint for a high is a dangerous fad among teens. These products are easy to get and a lot of teens feel that they are safe because they aren’t drugs. But the effects of huffing can be very dangerous and even more so behind the wheel.

The symptoms of huffing are: dizziness, strong hallucinations, delusions, belligerence, apathy, and impaired judgment. Additional symptoms exhibited by long-term inhalant abusers include weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, rapid pulse, hand tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, hallucinations, and, in severe cases, grand mal seizures.

This isn’t a list of symptoms one would want to experience while driving. On August 3rd 17 year old Christine Manchester inhaled from a can of an aerosol duster while driving. According to a passenger she then: “got a blank stare on her face, her body became rigid, and the car went off the road and hit two trees.”

This is still just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to substances that can get your teen into trouble. When you talk to your teen about drinking and driving make sure to bring up other substances as well. Also, be aware of what the signs are of drug abuse and be aware of what your teen is doing. Let your new driver know that you are always there to pick them up if they aren’t in a state to drive. Getting them home safely is more important than what ever rule they broke or stupid thing they did. That comes first, punishment can come later.

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Care about the dangers of teen driving before it effects you

Posted by lapearce on August 10, 2009

“Lance Armstrong didn’t care about cancer research until after he had cancer.”

When my sister told me this I couldn’t help but laugh at the ignorance of the comment. “Of course not,” I told her, “we only care about things until after they effect us.”

This is sad but true. Of course Lance Armstrong didn’t care about cancer research until he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I bet he similarly gave little consideration to heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, MS or a myriad of other disorders that debilitate and kill millions each year. Similarly, a large portion of the foundations set up to inform parents and teens about the dangers of driving were set up by parents after they lost their child in a car crash.

Journey Safe was started by the parents of Gillian Sabet after their daughter was killed in a crash on her way to prom

Professional drag racer Doug Herbert started B.R.A.K.E.S. after he lost his two teen sons in a crash

Maxwell’s Pledge was created after her son was killed as a passenger in a high speed crash

Even this blog was created because I lost a wonderful neighborhood girl to a crash on December 8, 2005, a crash that I know would have been avoided with better driver’s education. Which is why I share what I have learned as a driving instructor in hopes that I can save the life of a young driver.

Doug Herbert, the founder of B.R.A.K.E.S.  said he was unaware of the dangers of teen driving until after he lost his 17 and 15 year old sons in a crash. Even though he was a professional driver he didn’t know that car crashes are responsible for 35% of teen fatalities.

A survey by Allstate found that 88% of parents think that their teen is a good driver, even though most agree that teens drive poorly. Some of these parents will learn the hard way what dangers await their young drivers. Only then will they care. Perhaps they too will start a foundation and desperately attempt to inform other parents before they too learn the hard way.

Why does it have to be this way? Car crashes kill over 5,000 teens every year. Please, for the sake of your child’s life start caring now, before it is too late.

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Texting while driving is worse than drinking and driving.

Posted by lapearce on July 13, 2009

Car & Drivers texting vs. drunk driving results

Car & Driver's texting vs. drunk driving stop distance results

One of my fellow driving instructors, Steve, was driving to work last week when he saw a Ford Expedition that was having trouble maintaining his lane. He looked over and saw the woman driving the SUV was texting. His carpool passengers watched her as Steve drove and noticed that sometimes she would drive for a full 20 seconds without looking up.

Steve looked ahead and saw that traffic had come to a stop. He looked over again and saw that the woman was still looking down. He announced, “She’s going to hit someone” and slowed down so that someone wouldn’t be him. What happened next he still can’t believe he witnessed.

She came up on the stopped traffic going about 50mph. She looked up just feet before hitting an SUV in front of her. She tried to brake but by then it was too late. Steve dialed 911 before the crash even happened in order to report the inevitable. He then stopped to check on the drivers. The woman’s airbags had deployed and the entire front of her SUV was destroyed. He went up to her window and asked if she was alright. Her response was:

I don’t know what happened.

Distractions are dangerous. I think people know that even as they willingly take part in these distractions. They just feel it won’t happen to them, or they are a better driver and are able to overcome what others can’t. You just can’t get away from the cold, hard facts about texting while driving, however, it is more dangerous than driving drunk.

The Transport Research Labratory in the U.K. found that texting reduces reaction time by 35 percent, compared to 12 percent for drinking and driving. Scarier still, the study found that steering ability decreased 95 percent while texting. So not only do you have a third less time to react to what is happening on the road, you have nearly no ability to avoid any emergency.

Car and Driver also recently did a study on how texting and driving compares to drunk driving and found the same results. In one test, one of the drivers went nearly 300 feet longer before braking than he did while driving drunk. That is the difference of a football field! Would you blindfold yourself and run the length of a football field with other people and objects on the field for you to hit? Probably not, that could be painful, and yet drivers do this every time they text message while driving.

Even with this information, 60 percent of teens admit to texting while driving.

So how can we help? Bans only work if they are enforced and no one wants their child to learn the hard way with a crash. I would look to enroll your child in a defensive driving school that goes over the dangers of distractions. In our class we have kids master a slalom, then once they are confident in their skills, we have them do it again while trying to pick up an object meant to be their cell phone. Then we have them run through it again with them pretending to talk on their cell phone.

The results are amazing. Cones go everywhere, parents step way back, and some of the teens come to a complete stop in the “road” because they are so distracted. We don’t do this with them texting, because it would be impossible to go between cones while doing so, and after trying to do the course with a cell phone to their ear, the teens recognize that.

Yesterday I had one student say, “Being on a cell phone is more dangerous than I thought!” and another said she realized now just how much she had to pay attention to while driving, and the thought of adding distraction was too scary to imagine.

If you don’t have access to a car control clinic I recommend getting some cones and going to an empty and open parking lot. Create a course and help your child drive through it. Once they’ve mastered it, have them do it again pretending to be on their phone. Ride with them as you do this so if they accidently hit the gas (it can happen) you can quickly gain control. They’ll see the difference, and so will you.

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About.com gives parents dangerous advice for teen drivers

Posted by lapearce on July 2, 2009

Teens are more likely to speed and not wear seatbelts with teen passengers due to peer pressure

Teens are more likely to speed and not wear seatbelts with teen passengers due to peer pressure

Denise Witmer at About.com’s “Thirfty Thursday” advice for parents of teen drivers is one that is going to put teens in danger. Denise says that to save money parents should encourage their teens to carpool with friends, but then adds: On a side note: Stress that too many people in the car is not a good idea. Safety first!

How about: On a side note: disregard this entire tip because all passengers are not a good idea. Safety first!

A Michigan study showed that among male teen drivers, they had passengers in 43 percent of crashes, compared to 28 percent with adult men.  This is compared to 5 and 6 percent for alcohol. You wouldn’t see anyone give you advice to let your teen drink and drive, so you certainly shouldn’t take advice to all how them drive with passengers, as it can be more dangerous (from a statistical basis) than drinking and driving.

Witmer’s bio says that she is “About.com Guide to Parenting Teens Since 1997”  she may be well educated in teen development but she isn’t well informed about the dangers of driving and teens. This is a real shame, because as the go to for parenting teens she should be aware of the leading cause of death for teens and its contributing factors. But Witmer isn’t the only parent who is unaware of the dangers of driving.

This Allstate survey found that 88 percent of the parents they spoke to felt their teen was a good driver, even though less than a third of parents thought other teens were good drivers. 77 percent allowed their teens to drive with teen passengers.  Also notable is that nearly half of parents thought that the leading cause of teen crashes was alcohol. It’s not: speed, night driving and passengers are cause more crashes than teens driving drunk. Most of these parents likely wouldn’t knowingly allow their teen to drive drunk, but they will knowingly allow them to drive with friends, even though it is more dangerous.

Paying more for gas is better than losing a child in a crash. The cost of the insurance deductible for any crash related to passengers, fatal or not, will be more than the cost savings at the pump from carpooling. It simply isn’t worth the risk. I hope that about.com retracts this tip soon and that Witmer takes the time to educate herself on teen driving and its dangers. All parents should be aware, whether you are a parenting guide or just a parent.

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Stories from the road: people who don’t use their mirrors

Posted by lapearce on June 28, 2009

The road to Glacier Point with Half Dome in the background, Yosemite National Park, California

The road to Glacier Point with Half Dome in the background, Yosemite National Park, California

I spent the last four days on a nice trip with my boyfriend to the Sierra Nevada mountains. We went to the eastern side and explored: Fossil Falls, Manzanar WWII Japanese American camp, Mammoth, Convict Lake, June Lake, Devils Postpile and Mono Lake, then we took Tioga Pass into Yosemite, seeing Tuolomne Meadows for the first time. 2 1/2 tanks of gas and 700 miles later and we’re back: 600 unread items in my google reader (about half about teen drivers, so I’ve got some good posts coming), a couple dead celebrities, and a lot of stressful experiences with people who can’t drive.

My boyfriend and I both have good driving experience. We both instruct teen drivers through Driving Concepts and both take our cars to the track where we hone our own driving skills. We are alert, we are aware, we watch our mirrors, and we are courteous and cautious drivers on the road. That’s because we’ve made it our business to be that way. I can guarantee you that we are in the minority.

My biggest pet peeve of all the drivers we had to experience this weekend were the ones who would be going slower than traffic and not allow others to pass. Much of our driving was on one lane roads with turn offs for slower traffic or passing areas. We would get stuck behind other cars that would brake through turns, go 10mph below the speed limit and more nerve racking: go into the on coming lane in turns. Talk about bad drivers. But then, when a passing lane would come up they would speed up! And when a turn out would present itself they wouldn’t take it!

Why? Is it because they are rude? Do they feel like we have no right to go faster, that we should be content with their speed and poor driving habits? Do they feel as if they go a little bit faster the driver behind them will be content? I don’t think it’s any of these things. I think it’s because they aren’t paying attention.

These drivers drive cars that are like all of ours: they have three mirrors used to observe what is beside them or behind them. But to work, people need to look at them. To be safe, you should scan your mirrors every few seconds so you know what is happening around you at all times. That way if the mattress in the back of the truck in front of you suddenly falls off you already know where your openings are to take them, saving precious seconds that are the difference between crashing and just getting your adrenaline up.

Unfortunately, it seems like no one looks at their mirrors ever, except maybe when they change lanes, if us other drivers are lucky. So instead of having a nice peaceful drive, going at our pace, enjoying the scenery, we get stuck behind grandpa in his Jetta, going 20 mph, looking straight ahead, completely unaware of those pieces of glass on the side of his car and the center of his windshield.

Please, drivers of America, do us all a favor: use those mirrors as they were attended. Use turn outs if you are going slower than traffic (ie if you have a line of cars behind you) stay in the right lane unless you are passing and please, for the safety and security of us all, don’t speed up if someone is passing you! I know it is straight and you can go faster, but be curtious to the people who want to go faster than you and slow down, so they can pass quickly and safely, avoiding any potential on comming traffic. And teach your new drivers to do the same.

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Mother wants to save teens after losing her two sons

Posted by lapearce on June 24, 2009

Driving a winding road at high speed is called a canyon run and is very popular with inexperienced teen drivers who dont recognize the risks

Driving a winding road at high speed is called a canyon run and is very popular with inexperienced teen drivers who don't recognize the risks

It was 18 months ago when the crash happened. Donovon Barclay, 17, was driving his two cousins Shane Barclay, 22, and Tyler Barclay, 17 in his 1995 Saab at over 80mph through Laurel Glen Road, a winding canyon road in the Santa Rosa Mountains. What happened next would change the life of Shannon Barclay Adams, the mother of Shane and Tyler, forever.

Donovon took a corner too fast and lost control. The car flipped over and hit an embankment at great speed. Donovon suffered injuries that kept him hospitalized for several days, but his cousins, Shane and Tyler, didn’t make it out of the crash alive. Shannon explained how horrible the following court proceedings were, because she loved her nephew but wanted justice for her sons. In the end, Donovon was charged as a minor and slapped on the wrist with three months of counciling. He never appologized for the crash that killed his cousins.

Now 19, Donovon has four moving violations on his record and apparently never learned his lesson.

Shannon admits that she was not perfect in teaching her children how to drive and be safe on the road. Shane had just been in a crash prior to the one that took his life, and Tyler crashed unlicened and drunk at 16, injuring someone else. He was remoseful of the crash and served three months in juvinille hall, was on probation, and did community service.

The differences between Tyler’s consequences for injuring someone while drunk and Donovon’s consequences for killing two people for driving wrecklessly show a huge disconnect in the legal system between crime and punishment, and put driving under the influence beyond other crimes, even if the other crimes cause greater harm.

Shannon wants to help teens learn that there are other things they can do behind the wheel, other than drinking and driving, that can destroy lives and families forever. “It’s a huge misconception,” she said. “Most teens are driving with nothing more than testosterone in their systems. Parents need to be aware; it’s not only drunken driving that needs attention.”

The CHP reports that of the 25,871 injury crashes statewide in 2007 in which a teen driver was at fault, nearly 35 percent were caused by speeding and about 7 percent from being under the influence.

Shannon encourages parents to be aware of the risks, and to sign a parent-teen contract with their new driver. She also encourages parents to use technology that will alart them to dangerous driving behavior. “Honest, I’m not perfect either,” she said. “But that is what has to change; we can’t put these kids on the road.”

She is also working on a book about her teens and hopes that more new drivers will understand the risks associated with speed and wreckless driving. “If I can save just one teen, then my boys would not be lost in the carelessness of the system,” she said. “Reckless driving killed my sons. It’s an issue that needs attention.”

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