teen driving safetyLately, I’ve seen a lot of those teen driver academy cars around my Denver neighborhood with very freaked-out-looking teenagers behind the wheel. The weather is nice and I’m sure that parents of high schoolers are dreaming of the freedom they’ll enjoy once they have another driver in the house.

I’m sure the parents are also looking a little freaked-out, too. Putting your teenager behind the wheel of a car is a terrifying experience! Not only do you worry about their own abilities, but you worry about all of the other drivers on the road. Personally, I learned to drive on my parents’ property, tearing up our long rural driveway and the surrounding property. I can’t even imagine learning to drive on Denver’s busy roadways.

So, in an effort to help parents through this scary time, and to keep our Denver teen drivers safe, I’m including the following in this blog:

Please, print this out, share it with friends, and sit down to discuss it with your teen driver over one of those sticky “coffee” drinks they seem to like so much. You could be saving their life.

Top 5 Teen Driving Safety Tips

It may seem like Parenting 101, but you need to have open communication with your teen regarding their driving habits and responsibilities.  Below, you’ll find the Top 5 teen driving tips you should discuss with your teen driver before handing over the keys.

1. Practice Safe Driving Habits in the Car

Remember that, when your teen becomes a driver, he or she will also be responsible for the safety of others. For a while, (at least in the state of Colorado) they can only drive a sibling around, but soon, they will be able to drive friends too. Their safety awareness and habits may save their life and the lives of their friends. Remind them to:

  • Seatbelts are a must! Always wear a one and make your passengers wear seatbelts.
  • Obey all traffic laws and posted signs.
  • Aggressive driving or speeding is never okay.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Pay attention to weather conditions and revise plans accordingly.

2. Limit Distractions: Cell Phones, Food and Music

Technological distractions are one of the most dangerous aspects of driving today. Parents need to not only demand that their teen driver practice un-distracted driving habits, but parents need to model that for them too! Every driver in the family should adhere to the following:

  • Never use your cell phone while the car is running. This includes talking, texting and even GPS usage. Pull over to call, text, or to figure out where you are.
  • Do not use earphones or mp3 players in the car.
  • Do not eat while you are driving.

3. Never Use Drugs and/or Alcohol

Drivers who use drugs and alcohol, die or kill others. Especially when they are teenage drivers who have little experience behind the wheel. Have a heart-to-heart with your Denver teenage driver about the following, but also promise them that you will pick them up, no matter where they are, no questions asked. They need to know that calling you is a safe, calm option. (Reminder: teenagers have always had access to alcohol and drugs. You want yours to feel safe calling you if he or she has made a mistake.)

  • Never drive if you have used drugs or alcohol.
  • Never allow drugs or alcohol into your car.
  • Never allow passengers who have used drugs or alcohol into your car.
  • Never get into another car with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol.
  • Never get into another car where drugs or alcohol are present.

4. Be A Good Friend

In my experience, most teenagers want to do the right thing… but they also want to appear cool to their friends. Teach your teenager to be the one who gives other teens “permission” to be safe.

  • When you’re in the car with another teen driver, speak up when you notice unsafe behavior! There is a good chance that your friend just wants your “permission” to be safe without trying to impress you.
  • Let your friends know that you admire safe driving habits.

5. Call Me

Parents need to be their teenager’s safe haven. Allow them to call you for any reason, no questions asked, to pick them up.

  • Call home if you are concerned for your safety as a driver or as a passenger. (I promise not to ask embarrassing questions in front of your friends.)

You might even plan a “code” for your teen to use if he or she is in an unsafe situation, but doesn’t want to “rat out” a friend. For example, “Mom, I feel really sick. Too sick to drive. Can you come get me?” Giving your teen a way out of unsafe situations is your job as a parent. But make sure not to embarrass your teen in these situations – if you do embarrass your teen, he or she won’t call you the next time!

Teen Driving Contract

Parents, take note!  Before you hand the keys over to your teen driver, you need to have a heart-to-heart about your expectations and the consequences your teen will face for ignoring them.

This does not have to be a “put the hammer down” conversation. Remember that this is an exciting time in your teen’s life (and their newfound freedom could translate into more freedom for you, too!).

The teen driving contract below is meant to inspire positive conversations, help you and your teen to agree on consequences, and reward good behavior! (Parenting 101 stuff)

In the end, it all comes down to teen driving safety.

TO MY TEEN DRIVER:

This is an exciting time in your life!  You can drive!

This is a terrifying time in my life. You can drive!

As you know, car crashes are the number-one killer of American teens. That is a scary statistic for a parent handing the keys over to a teen.  At the same time, I understand that your new independence as a driver is important to you and potentially helpful to me.

Therefore, I want us to agree to some fundamental rules for your driving experience. If you follow these rules, you will maintain your driving privileges. If you do not, you will face consequences. Likewise, I have included my own promises and responsibilities, and I have even included rewards if you exhibit outstanding driving behavior.

Together, if we abide by these rules, we can keep you safe and give you the freedom you desire!

BEFORE YOU DRIVE

  • Check in with me before you drive.
  • Let me know where you are going and what time to expect you home.
  • Tell me who your passengers will be.

Consequences for violations:  No driving for ________ weeks/months.

SAFE HABITS IN THE CAR

  • Always wear a seat belt and make your passengers wear seat belts.
  • Obey all traffic laws and posted signs.
  • Never speed or drive aggressively.
  • Keep both hands on the wheel.
  • Do not drive in adverse weather.

Consequences for violations:  No driving for ________ weeks/months.

PASSENGERS

  • Never drive with more than ________ teenage passenger(s) in the car.
  • If you believe your passenger is being unsafe or distracting you, pull over and call me. You can tell me a white lie so that your passenger is unaware of your concerns and I will come get you! (For example, “I suddenly feel too sick to drive.”) (See “CALL ME” section below.)

Consequences for violations:  No driving for  ________ weeks/months.

CELL PHONES, FOOD AND MUSIC

  • Never use your cell phone while the car is running. This includes talking, texting and even GPS usage. Pull over to call, text, or to figure out where you are.
  • Do not use earphones or mp3 players in the car.
  • Do not eat while you are driving.
  • Consequences for violations:  No driving for ________ weeks/months.

DRUGS AND ALCOHOL

  • Never drive if you have used drugs or alcohol.
  • Never allow drugs or alcohol into your car.
  • Never allow passengers who have used drugs or alcohol into your car.
  • Never get into another car with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol.
  • Never get into another car where drugs or alcohol are present.

Consequences for violations:  No driving for ________ weeks/months.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

  • I expect you to pay for all traffic citations. Until those are paid, you can’t use the car.
  • I expect you to contribute to the costs of gas, maintenance and insurance as listed here _____________________________________________________________.
  • I understand that plans change. Call me if you’ll be later than expected.

Consequences for violations:  No driving for ________ weeks/months.

GRADES

  • I expect you to maintain good grades in order to keep your driving privileges. If your grades drop as listed here, you will lose driving privileges until they improve.
  • Grade expectations: ____________________________________________________________

CALL ME

  • Call home if you are concerned for your safety as a driver or as a passenger.
  • As your parent, I promise that I will pick you up no matter where you are, no matter the time of day or night.
  • I promise not to ask embarrassing questions in front of your friends.

BE A GOOD FRIEND

  • When you’re in the car with another teen driver, speak up when you notice unsafe behavior! There is a good chance that your friend just wants your “permission” to be safe without trying to impress you.
  • Let your friends know that you admire safe driving habits.

REWARDS FOR EXCELLENT DRIVING BEHAVIOR

To my teen,

  • For every one month of safe driving, following all of the rules outlined here with zero infractions, I will: _____________________________________________

(suggested rewards: pay your cell phone bill for one month; fill your gas tank once; get you that “bling” you’ve always wanted, etc.)

  • If you achieve six months of safe driving, following all of the rules outlined here with zero infractions, I will  ____________________________________________

(suggested rewards: pay your cell phone bill for two months; fill your gas tank for a month; get you that “bling” you’ve always wanted, etc.)

Teen Driver

I agree to abide by all of these rules in order to maintain my driving privileges.

Signature: _______________________________   Date: ____________

Parent

I promise to take time to help my teenager develop good driving habits. I will also listen when he/she proposes reasonable changes to this contract.

Signature: _______________________________ Date: ____________

“Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.” ~Bill Dodd


1980s-Era School Supplies, Fashion Accessories and More

As I get ready to brave the Target aisles for school supplies, I thought it might be fun to make a Throwback List for your reading pleasure!

Back when I was in middle school, the school supply lists were much shorter than they are today… and cheaper!

My newly anointed high schooler needs a calculator that can practically brush his teeth and make his bed! So, here’s to the good old days.

  • Do you remember…
  • Trapper Keepers
  • Pee Chee Folders
  • Pencils (always a staple)
  • Tissues (still a must-have)
  • Hair Product (seriously, the 80s put today’s kids to shame)
  • Compass
  • Members Only Jackets
  • Parachute Pants
  • “Jellies” and Other Pointless Shoes
  • Jelly Bracelets (all the way up to your elbow)
  • Walkman
  • Scholastic Book Club order forms
  • Swatch Watches
  • Crayola Crayons (“Mom, pleeeeeze don’t get RoseArt Crayons!”)
  • Speak & Spell
  • Garbage Pail Kids
  • Hello Kitty Everything!

That was a nice trip down memory lane. I think I’ll stream “The Wonder Years” this weekend.