Woodrow Gaines asked me to give my insights on “teen” driving today, and I was more than happy to accommodate his request. My son, Reed turned 16 February 5th of this year. He is a representative for “Fearthis4life” and the safety of his fellow students. As a mother of two teenage drivers, I live with the fear of double the safety issues. My 18-year-old daughter has been a joy and absolutely no trouble. I will admit she did have an accident last year at 17, one mile from the school, a result of distractions surrounding the vehicle. No one was hurt and the damages were minimal. For this, we are grateful and learn from our mistakes. She is a much more alert driver today. I count my blessings every time I hear of a tragedy on the news involving young inexperienced drivers. They won’t admit it, but they are so inexperienced. The events of an accident happen so rapidly and without much warning. It is something we can only try to prepare them for. It is my strong advice to enroll your teen driver in a defensive driving course along with drivers ed to prepare them to the best of your ability. The most important role you will play is providing valuable drivers training in your own vehicle. There is no substitute.
Recently, prior to her graduation, a fellow student was in a horrible accident that finds him clinging to live at an Atlanta Hospital. These situations tend to slow kids down and forces them to evaluate their own habits. I think as a parent, we must make our kids accountable to us throughout their day and nights, no matter their legal age. Yes, they are old enough to make their own decisions, some not good ones, but they still need to check in. I for one cannot sleep until I know my child has reached their destination and are safely off the roads. This is a rule at my house and one that has become a habit. Reed is not given the same privileges as his older sister, his curfew is earlier, one that is also mandated by the new driving laws. Occasionally he has missed the cut off by a half hour, but not without calling and giving notice. The hardest thing that I have had to enforce as a parent is the “no passenger” law passed Jan. 1 this year. The law was signed to alleviate multiple passengers in a beginners vehicle. I realize this only affects the 16-year-olds of the current year and that makes it harder because no one else can sympathize. It will be the longest 6 months of my life
Please be aware of your child’s surroundings and the company they keep, peer pressure is a parent’s worst enemy. Remember doing whats right is not always popular, but what’s popular is not always right! Our children learn from what they see more than what they hear, be a good role model.