Save Our Teen Drivers

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

Posts Tagged ‘distractions’

Teen driving laws aren’t enough to save lives

Posted by lapearce on February 7, 2010

Teen driver was following all teen driving laws when he struck a school bus last Tuesday, killing his sister

At any given time in this country there is a state considering a new teen driving law. Most of these laws restrict what teen drivers can do with the intent of protecting the new drivers. Of course, many teens and parents see these laws as discriminating or “unfair” to “safe” drivers. While I would prefer that state governments took their focus off of driving laws and instead focused their time, money and resources on driver’s education, all of the restrictions they pass are aimed at saving lives, not singling out new drivers.

Take for example Florida’s current attempt to ban new driver’s from carrying passengers. This seems to be the law that has the most resistance from teens and parents. Parents take advantage of their child’s new mobility to have them shuttle around friends, siblings, teammates, etc or be the ones being shuttled around– paying them back for sixteen years of being a taxi driver for their kids. Teens, on the other hand, love to ride with their friends and don’t like giving up this privilege.

One girl interviewed for the Florida law said she felt the law was unfair for responsible teens. The problem here isn’t responsibility, it’s a lack of knowledge, experience and attention plus peer pressure. Even the best drivers can be distracted by other people in the car– I can still be after years of driving– and when you lack experience it can be deadly. Teens are much more likely to crash when they have friends in the car and they are also more likely to drive dangerously.

Because of peer pressure teens are less likely to buckle up when they have other teen passengers. I guess it isn’t cool to save your own hide in a crash. They are also more likely to speed and drive aggressively as they show off their driving skills to their un-belted friends and younger siblings.

However, we can’t rely on laws to solve this problem. Police consistently report that it is difficult to enforce passenger laws. You can’t tell by looking at a driver whether or not they’ve been driving for a month or a year, or whether their passenger is a sibling or a friend. Because of that, most new drivers are cited only if they are pulled over for breaking another law. The solution to this problem isn’t laws, its through the knowledge and enforcement of parents.

No matter how convenient it is to have your teen play taxi driver for his/her friends and no matter how convenient it is to have your teen get a ride from another teen driver, as parents you have to know when to say no. Use common sense: don’t let your teen have passengers if they are new to driving and don’t let him/her ride with anyone who hasn’t had their license for at least six months (preferably a year). Take time into consideration as well, don’t let your child drive/ride in a car late at night when there are more drunks on the road and the driver is likely fatigued.

Also, learn about the friend your teen is getting a ride with. Do they have any tickets? Have they been in a crash? Are they responsible drivers? Talk to your teen about peer pressure, using a seat belt and encourage them to speak up if the driver is being irresponsible. Set an agreement with your child that if they don’t feel safe with a driver that you will pick them up– no matter where they are.

Even if teenagers are following the laws of the state it doesn’t mean they are immune from a crash. Last week a fifteen-year-old girl was killed in Colorado when her sixteen-year-old brother pulled his car in front of a school bus. It was legal for the boy to transport his sister and the fourteen-year-old neighbor also in the car, but for what ever reason– whether it be distraction, not seeing the bus or fog on the window during the cold morning, passenger restriction laws were not enough to save a life.

I’ve heard many parents say that they won’t let their teen ride with any teen driver who hasn’t taken a defensive driving course. This is an excellent idea that I completely support. Education is the key here. You can’t overcome many of the challenges of age and experience that teen drivers face, but you can significantly increase their chances of survival through a defensive driving/accident avoidance course. These classes show teens the dangers on the road, what distractions do to their reaction time and their driving abilities and the abilities of their cars– where are often times grossly over estimated by new drivers. No law can make up for experience.

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ZoomSafer hopes to take distraction away from cell phones

Posted by lapearce on June 11, 2009

My bluetooth headset broke this week. I ordered myself a new Jawbone 2, the latest and greatest in hands free communication devices from Amazon. It’s being delivered as we speak, so for right now: no cell phone while I drive for me. Even with bluetooth, I don’t like talking in the car. Your brain still gives attention to the conversation, which means less attention is on the road.

Like a lot of people, though, I feel like I need to answer calls. It may be from work, or from home, and I don’t want that person calling me to think that I’m ignoring them. Many times the calls only take a second too, a quick little “I’m driving, can I call you back?” Many teens feel the need to respond to calls, texts, emails, facebook comments, etc as soon as possible. It goes back to brain development, where teens are more emotional than rational with their thoughts. So even with the number of cell phone bans in dozens of states in this country, teens are still talking, texting, tweeting and facebooking while they drive.

Well, ZoomSafer hopes to satisfy their need. Their free software, which will be out in beta format in roughly 45 days, will be a sort of personal assistant for your cell phone when you are in your car. Miachel Riemer, founder and CEO of ZoomSafer tells me that the software will, “prevent distracted driving but still allow users to stay connected with their friends, family and social networks.”

These are the features that the software will have:

  • Activates automatically when driving
  • Reminds you to drive safely (including reminders from friends, family, celebrities, etc)
  • Optionally inform friends, family, co-workers, and social networks when and where you’re driving (can also share your location)
  • Applies preferences to manage inbound communications (including the “out-of-office” replies we call auto-toots)
  • Suppresses unwanted alerts (SMS and emails still arrive you just don’t get alerted until you are done driving)
  • Provides a set of voice services so you can send/receive emails and text messages with your voice

Hopefully this program will help teens, and adults, drive with ease, knowing that their friends are being attended to with ZoomSafer.

You can register for the beta here. I am already signed up and will post my review after I’ve used the program.

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