Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teens and Driving

Our oldest turned 16 in May and was able to get his driver's permit. In our state, we have Graduated Driver's Licensing. This is a three-step process: 1)Learner's permit - allows driving only with a fully licensed driver 2)Intermediate license - allows unsupervised driving but with restrictions related to driving at night and teenage passengers 3)Full licensure.

I have to admit, the thought of my child operating a vehicle out there on the road stresses me out. Since he is still in the learner's permit phase, we've been taking it pretty slow. If I'm going out to run errands close to home, I'll let him drive (as long as our other kids aren't with us). And, on several evenings, we've went out just to take a drive through town so he could get some more practice. He still has a long way to go, but, he is not doing a bad job so far. In a couple months, we are going to let him take a few hours of a professional driver's training course; in addition to helping him improve his driving, it will also give us a discount on his auto insurance.

Many of his friends are new drivers as well. Some already have their intermediate licenses. So, he is beginning to want to go out and ride places with these friends. More stress for me. To be honest, it scares me to death to let him go. But, that is part of being a parent and having your kids grow up - you have to let them go sometimes. We give him rules to follow: he has to ALWAYS wear a seat belt, he has to tell us exactly where he is going/who is going, we must always be able to reach him on his cell phone (no cell phone talking or texting if he is the driver), and he cannot be in a car with a bunch of kids. Also, he is never to ride with someone who has been drinking. We've assured him that he can call us anytime, from anywhere, and we will pick him up, no questions asked, if it keeps him from riding with someone who has had alcohol. From there, we just have to trust that he will be smart and safe.

Here are some statistics about teen driving from the National Safety Council:

*Every day – more than 10 young drivers age 15-20 are killed in crashes and another 745 are injured.

*About 25% of crashes killing young drivers involve alcohol.

*39% of young male drivers and 26% of young female drivers were speeding at the time of their fatal crash.

*Although young drivers only represent 6% of all licensed drivers, they are the drivers in 16% of all traffic crashes.

*Young drivers are involved in fatal traffic crashes at over twice the rate as the rest of the population.

*Traffic crashes are the #1 cause of death among young adults.

*Teenagers driving at night with passengers are 4-5 more times likely to crash than when driving alone during the day.

If you want to read more about teen driving, here are some additional links:

Allstate - Teen Driving

Teendriving.com

Safe Teen Driving Club

What about you? Do you have a teen driver? Or, if you've already been through this, how did you handle it? Does it ever get any easier when they go out in a car? I would love to hear your thoughts....

64 comments:

Kathie @ my net finds said...

I don't have my own teen, but my niece is 15 and it scares me to think of her on the road with other teens! A local teen just died recently because she was texting while driving and she hit an oncoming car....I just hope other local teens have learned from this tragedy.

Pina said...

We get our driver's permit at 18 years of age. Still too many young people are killed due to fast driving or when they are driving drunk.

writefromkaren said...

We have the same graduated driver's licensing program here, too. My 16-year old son's six month permit period will end at the end of next month and though I think he'd pass the test, I don't think HE feels he's ready yet.

Teaching a teen to drive is stressful. We ended up buying him a used car (which he'll pay us half for when he gets a job next summer) just so I wouldn't get all stressed out with him driving my car.

If you (as in everyone, not you specifically) can swing it, I'd highly recommend that route. It's a lot more relaxing, believe me.

Friends. *sigh* My son is not allowed to get into a car with a driver who has less than one year of driving experience. I'll drive him out and he can meet his pals. When he gets his license, I would prefer he not drive any of his friends around until he's had more experience.

However, that's not always realistic so IF it can't be avoided, I would rather he drive his friends around. I trust his driving over that of his friends, any day.

This driving thing is so hard. You really just have to close your eyes and ... let go.

septembermom said...

Thanks Kari for this informative and important post. My son is 12 and I'm already worried about the driving years. It's scary to think about him on the road.

Cat@3KidsandUs said...

My kids aren't teens yet but I'm terrified at the thought of them driving. I'm secretly hoping they raise the age to 18 so I can rest easy for a few more years.

bluecottonmemory said...

In TN, you can get your permit when you're 15. You can get your license when you're 16, but the test is nothing like what I took where I grew up in Louisville. All you had to do was drive to Walmart and back. I'm going to like this not getting your permit until your 16. However, I must admit, that year of practice makes a big difference.

You might be interested in my post on dealing with fear over these issues: http://bluecottonmemory.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/simply-saturday/

cat said...

Here in South Africa you can get your learners permit at 17 but full license only after 18. I am so thankful for that!

La Belle Mere UK said...

Wow, I can understand your concerns. I guess it's just another one of those occassions where we just have to make sure they are educated about the dangers and trust them to be safe.

Not easy though, I imagine!

Happy SITS day.

LBM xxx

Becky @ Our Sweet Peas said...

You are making me thankful that my twin boys are only two. Thanks for sharing the stats though. Good info!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

I'm really terrified at the thought of teens driving.
Young people drive so fast; they don't realize the danger.

Elizabeth said...

I like the idea of the graduated license - in Florida we just have a learner's permit and a full permit. The full permit, if you're under 18, does have some restrictions to it, like a curfew, but from what I understand, they're not well enforced. It's scary, isn't it? My best friend's son is 16, and I just remember how I drove at 16, and hope that he will have enough sense to be more careful. I will say, though, that my dad used to take me to an empty business park on the weekends to help me practice driving his stick shift, which was super-helpful, though I resented it at the time. Couldn't have learned to drive a stick without those curvy, speed-bump filled parking lots.

Joy said...

I do have a teenage son who is on the verge of getting his driver's license. For me, it's very stressful.

Happy SITS day!

Crystalin Dunn said...

Holy cow, I wish you lots and lots of luck! I'm dreading having to deal with this. Like potty training times 100. You seem pretty cool and collected about it, which I'm sure your son appreciates. Way to go!

Vanessa said...

I'm dreading the day that my kids get their licenses!
I can skip that phase!

Laura said...

my daugher is 19 and got her DL just about 6 months ago..a little late (which was fine by me) still stresses me out...always will..just cant get around it.

Laura
http://mybde.blogspot.com

Alison Russell said...

I haven't been able to let my son get his license yet - can't afford the extra insurance. He'll get there someday, but it's not likely to be any time real soon. Fortunately he isn't terribly pushy on the subject, so I don't get complaints about it.

In our state I don't think they have a graduated license, but they do have additional laws for teenage drivers, including curfew (unless to/from a job), no passengers other than immediate family, and higher fines or faster license suspensions for things like using a cell phone. I have no idea how well they're enforced.

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

This is a very scary time. Hopefully your teen will respect you enough to obey the rules you set. Letting him get regular driving lessons though is a good thing rather than just teaching him yourself.

Robin said...

Yeah yeah yeah.....say what you will about teen drivers, but I have yet to be cut off the road, run into by, backed-up into by and side-swiped by a teenager......it has always been an adult.....some have even had their children in their car while driving 20 miles and more above the limit. And don't get me started about moms talking on their cell phones / drinking coffee or soda (out of a can). It is surprising how many adults don't know that you can't cross a solid line to pass, that they are supposed to stop behind the line, stop on red, yield to oncoming traffic when making that left turn, not to tailgate, etc.....
I think we should have a nationwide mandatory retesting every 5 years. And I believe that teens that drive badly are just imitating the sloppy driving habits of their parents. And it hasn't been teen drivers that they have been pulling off the school busses for the past 6 years. Our school district has had 8 drivers in the past 6 years removed for driving drunk or high. I fear more the lazy, irresponsible, self-centered, careless adult drivers than I do teen drivers. Oh and let’s not forget the elderly. Last year I was at the DMV renewing my license. The old man in front of me was having trouble with the required eye test. The woman behind the counter must have flipped the dial 10 times asking him “Can you see it now?” before he finally was able to call out the letters. Yikes! All I could think was, “Please let me get in my car and get out of here before he is out on the road,” :-)

sandy said...

My son turned 16 in March and I still have not taken him for his permit! I just don't think he is mature enough yet. It's very scary!

Christine said...

Oh geeesh, after reading the statistics I'd come up with every excuse under the sun to delay getting a license for my kids.
We know the statistics, but if I read them often, I don't think I'd let them out. It's so frightening!
As parents I guess we can only educate, remind and hope for the best. And pray they aren't victims of other bad drivers.

Brandi said...

My kiddos are still little, but I'm not looking forward to a lot of the things that come along with them growing up. It goes by way too fast. :(

{leah} said...

Mine are still little, but I know it will come soon. And my kids driving scares me a little... more so for the fact that they are growing up... and a little with them actually being behind the wheel.

Happy SITS day!!

I hope your dad is ok.

Creative Junkie said...

UGH UGH UGH.

My eldest will turn sixteen next year. I am absolutely DREADING this. Seriously, I am so stressed out about it. I'd rather live in denial.

A Fist Full of Dandelions said...

Brings back memories of my teen driving years. I'm thankful that my parents trusted me (for the most part), and I was able to have that little bit of independence (and responsibility) driving gave me.

Janna Bee said...

They changed our state to Graduated Driver's licensing right after I turned 18, and I thought it stunk then, but now I think it's great. I am not looking forward to when my children can drive, I have already seen how they drive on MAriokart, and it's enough to frighten me, LOL!

Kimmy C said...

Great post. Happy SITS day!

Julie @ Little One-of-a-Kind Design said...

I have 14 years to prepare thankfully...but who knows what the stats will be by that time. thanks for collecting good info in one spot!

freckletree. said...

YIKES! I have 8m twins-- the thought of driving blows my mind! I remember those days-- don't you?? AAAHHHHH!!!!

Kristin said...

Now that I'm a Mom, I can imagine how scary this must have been for my Mom. My little man is only 15 mos. old and I'm already scared. Ah ha

tori said...

sooo nice to see another mom blog about teens. haven't seen many. I'm on my 3rd teen driver (with one more to go). It is still terrifying for me but I think some of it comes from loosing my sister in a MVC when she was a new driver. I feel like I am WAY over protective! Have a great SITS day and congrats for being choosen!

Ronnica said...

I can't imagine how scary this would be! I just remember how stressful learning to drive/being a new driver was on my relationship with my parents. I think that everything was good by the time I was 18.

Laura said...

My oldest is 19 now, but the first time she went off my herself (at 17), was a scary time for me until she walked back through the door.

thishumanscondition said...

So terrifying. God speed. And the texting! Oh, the texting...

Rook No. 17 said...

I honestly don't know what scares me more: the prospect of having two teenage daughters in the house in the not too distant future, or the fact that they'll have friends with cars. Looking at the stats I'm thinkin' a license should be given at around age 21!

mommytoalot said...

We have the same process for getting your license. My oldest son is almost 18 and is still taking lessons. He would have gone for his test...but they are on strike. It is scary....but alas ..they have to learn sometime

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

i just remember BEING teenager and hating that i wasn't allowed to drive my friends around in my car - but now it makes sense! imagine that!

HAPPY SITS DAY!

Christina said...

My baby brother is 14, so this is something that's begun to be a topic of conversation (he can get a learner's permit at 15). He's a smart kid and super responsible... but I'm still nervous. *He* might be okay, but what about all those other teenagers out there who aren't being wise behind the wheel?

How are you coping with that fear factor?

Thena said...

Happy SITS Day!!! Teens driving can be scary. I live about 3 miles from a high school and I have seen drag racing, reckless driving, and not to mention being passed dangerously. I'm always thinking, where are the police? They have to know because we are in a small town, only 3 schools, a post office, a bank and a diner.

Lesli @ aHealthyKitchen said...

WOW! Powerful information. I'm not a mom, but I can sure understand how y'all feel! Thanks for sharing this info.

Happy SITS day!

Lesli
http://aHealthyKitchen.com
a "DO FOLLOW" BLOG

Holly Noelle @ Domestic Dork said...

I took classes when I was a teen, it was really helpful!

Jessica said...

Yeah, it's pretty much a freakin' miracle I'm alive and walking. I'm of the mind to make my kids wait till they're 18 before letting them get a car. Eesh.

Amethyst Moon said...

Stopping by from SITS!

I have 2 teens in the licensing process, and recently did a post about my first, in the car, experience with my youngest. So stressful, but yes, part of them growing up.

http://http://lifemusiclaughter.blogspot.com/2009/09/get-out-tha-way.html

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

My kids are teens yet but I've actually spent some time wondering how I will handle the stress of having them learn to drive. I think graduated licensing is a good thing.

Jacky said...

I think I kind of am a teen driver...I got my permit when I was about 15 and a half, but then I didn't get my license for 2 years (so about 17 and a half). I feel pretty sure about the safety of my driving. I always wear my seat belt, and I rarely ever use my a cellphone while driving...and NEVER to text!

Happy SITS Day! =)

onthistimearound.blogspot.com

Robin said...

Well there is no way to get around it: Its SCARY! IM scared to get out on the road b/c of teen drivers (and other jerks)! In fact, my car was JUST totaled 4 days ago b/c of a teen driver. I was lucky and not injured, but it has been an absolute nightmare and still is. It is not right that many teens drive safely (many people for that matter) and still get hurt by those who do thinks like TEXT while driving. All I can say is make your son take DEFENSIVE driving classes. Teach him to ASSUME the worst in people, to assume someone will barrel through lights, or assume the jerk next to you will come over on you from another lane. Basically, just give him all the tools you can and hope for the best. Good luck on this journey!!
-Robin
www.robingillis.blogspot.com

Charlotte said...

my Dad let us practice a lot of driving while we were camping as kids. I swear it helped tremendously with our skills and our respect of how dangerous a car can be. I will probably do the same with my kids because I really loved the freedom that came with my driver's license. Of course my oldest is only 5, so I may be singing a new tune in a few years.

Tam said...

I've been through one teen driver (she's 25 now and still not that good) and am sweating through the second. I think you just keep reinforcing the rules, and then sit back and pray. A lot. :-)

Meg said...

I still call my mom to let her know I got someplace safely, but now I have her do the same!

Geeta said...

When I was a freshman in highschool 3 seniors died in a car crash (and another person in a second car who was a father...) ... alcohol was involved.

To that regard, I think telling your kids that you'll pick them up anytime, anywhere without asking questions is a very good thing to do. If they're in that situation, I think they're much more likely to call if they know you won't tear into them the moment they're in the car.

Life with Kaishon said...

My son has 7 years to go : ) and I know it will fly by! : ) Drivers can get their licence at 16 here in PA and I think you have to be home by 12 if you are 16 or 17. I am not sure though. Great post!

Halle@HouseCapated said...

I bet that is so hard to watch them leave the house with their friend drivers. I wouldnt be able to relax until they got home again :)!

Holly said...

Wow..this experience is a ways off for our family. I took my Drivers test the morning of my 16th b'day and dropped my mom off at home and was gone for about 12 hours...I cannot imagine letting me child do that. Thanks for sharing.
Holly @ 504main.blgospot.com

Lamonica Epps said...

It's very understandable that you are nervous about your son driving on his own. Hopefully he will be a great driver.

Stopping by from SITS

http://fabulousgccandles.blogspot.com/

Days of Whine & Noses said...

Growing up in Chicago, we did not have a car. We walked or took a bus everywhere. I didn't start driving until I was 21 when I got a job in the suburbs!

Now I have a 14 year old and she can not wait to drive! I can wait.

Happy SITS day!

Leah Rubin said...

I hope you realize that you did a real public service with this post! Kudos to you, and what you're accomplishing here!

Lynn said...

I just think back to how crazy I was when I first got my full on license and got more comfortable in the drivers seat. My kids had better get hip to the idea of getting around in a wheelbarrow!

My best, Lynn

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Kari--Congrats on your status as FB for the day! I can certainly relate to your feelings about seeing your kids behind the wheel. My oldest has been driving for two years, and my youngest will be eligible for his permit in a year. It took about a year after my daughter was driving before I was able to let her drive alone with her brother. We took things very slowly, and over time, I have grown very confident in my daughter's abilities. She is now a valued "back up" for me when mt son needs a ride to one of his many activities. Time and experience was the key for her to gain self confidence and earn mine!

Shaunells Hair said...

Hi From SITS! Good for you on being aware and informed. It's a scary transition.
http://shaunellshair.blogspot.com

K a b l o o e y said...

The graduated license is a great idea. Wish it was around when my stepdaughter got her license after failing her road test 4 times. So far so good, but it makes me very nervous.

Tanyia said...

My dd is 16 and waiting til we let her get her permit. We have, just this year, her junior year started dealing with leaving school for lunch, having a friend pick her up, etc. So far she is allowed to go with only 2 friends we trust. I mean 16... they can't even find their sneakers!

shortmama said...

No teen drivers yet...but the thought is terrifying!

Cheryl said...

I think it is great! We have our daughter (13) practice driving since she could reach the pedals. I do not want her to grow up but like you said, it is part of being a parent. Good Luck!

Michelle (hometc) said...

If I had my way, no young person would be able to get a full driver's license until the age of 18. I don't think these young kids have developed enough common sense before this age and often even after, to be given free reign in a machine that turns into a death trap. When I was 15 and out driving with my 17 year old boyfriend and some friends, he wrecked the car and I broke my neck. I haven't walked in 24 years. My parents gave me the same promise of picking me up anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. In one ear and out the other.

Kim said...

Hi, I am new to SITS, I hope you have/ are having a great day!

Two of my children have their licenses, a third has her permit. This is one of those mom times when I hand the responsibility to my husband! I don't mind riding with my licensed drivers at all now, but I was way too jittery during the learning process.