Last week I attended the Drive It Home Show in Colorado Springs with a couple family members and a few good friends. The Drive It Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation, helps parents (and grandparents) understand the real hazards teens face on the road and provides tips for better coaching teen drivers. All presented with a generous serving of silly.
The vital information provided during the Drive It Home Show not only informs parents and grandparents currently teaching their beloved teens to drive, it keeps all drivers and passengers on the road safer. According to the National Safety Council, there are two million or so teens under the age of 18 in their first year of driving on U.S. roads. Considering inexperience is the No. 1 cause of teen crashes — and those inexperienced young drivers are behind the wheels of vehicles around us — teen driving is a serious subject we all should learn more about.
One of the most dangerous years in a person's life is the first 12 months after getting a driver's license. In Colorado alone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, from 2009 to 2011, there were 146 fatalities in crashes involving at least one 15- to 19-year-old driver. A total of 51 teen drivers (15-19), 29 teen passengers (15-19), 16 other age passengers in the teens' vehicles, plus 50 others were killed in those crashes.
Clearly it's a deadly serious subject, yet the Drive It Home Show performers — of the famed Second City — didn't beat audience members over the head with sobering stats. No, they made us laugh.
With silly skits and hilarious dance numbers, the cast members drove home the message that adults teaching teens how to drive must understand that inexperience is the leading cause of teen crashes — not risk-taking, as 74 percent of parents inaccurately believe. And those teaching teens to drive must improve the way they're doing the teaching.
Top recommendations given at the Drive It Home Show for better teaching teens driving skills include:
- Practice scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards.
- Practice speed control based on conditions (road, weather, traffic).
- Practice judging gap perception — when to make a move depending on the speed of oncoming traffic.
- Log at least 10 hours of night driving in all circumstances, including heavy traffic and bad weather.
- Ban cell phone use while at the wheel.
- Drive at least 30 minutes each week with a newly licensed teen to reinforce safe driving.
Lastly, because parents and other important adults in a child's life have been teaching that child how to drive since she was around two years old — about the age children start noticing and modeling their behavior after others — there is this for us all to consider:
For more lifesaving recommendations and resources, visit DriveItHome.org.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.