My teenager graduated from a learners permit to driver’s license today. I’m hoping it’s a good omen that he is starting to drive on his own during Teen Driver Safety Week. But, as part of AAA’s promotion of teen safety behind the wheel, I got an email this morning declaring, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the US and teens have the highest crash rate of any age group.”
Gulp. Can we go back to when I was only worrying about what he was up to on the Internet?
I have spent the last year teaching him to drive well. Discussing the dangers of distracted driving, driving under the influence, texting and driving--and sharing very real stories of families destroyed by this last one. I even sent him to an awesome (and free!) defensive driving school.
But I know there is a brief moment, right now, when he wants the keys to my car so badly that he will agree to anything. So I'm downloading, printing, and making him read and sign the parent-teen agreement that AAA created just for this moment. He knows all this stuff. But it can’t hurt to go over it once more and make it clear that even a single infraction will cost him his driving privileges.
I have recently been talking to car manufacturers about technology that’s coming in future cars for a story I'm writing. So I know there will be some very high-tech ways for parents to let the car monitor, coach, and supervise teen drivers in the near future. But my teen is driving now. Today, my husband, teen, and I spent some time going over safety and getting some ideas and information at Keys2Drive, the AAA Guide to Teen Driver Safety. But I am also planning to try out some smartphone apps that coach a teen driver right from his phone, tools that turn off texting while driving, and even--yes, I have come to this!--in-car monitoring tools that let me see where he is and send me an alert if he goes outside a perimeter I set.
Stay tuned for the results of my in-car technology safety experiments.