Nelson Mandela is being praised around the world for his work in overcoming apartheid and promoting integration and understanding among racial groups, but he also has a legacy in traffic safety. His great -granddaughter Zenani was killed in a car crash in South Africa in 2010. Out of that tragedy came the worldwide Long Short Walk campaign for pedestrian and traffic safety, which I wrote about on this blog on May 14,2013. At the Global Youth Traffic Safety Month event in Washington DC on May 8, I had the honor of meeting Kweku Mandela, Nelson’s grandson and a cousin of Zenani. Perhaps one measure of Nelson Mandela’s worldwide influence was that he lost his granddaughter in 2010 — and within two years he and his family had founded and promoted a worldwide advocacy movement in her honor.
The article linked below, which was tweeted by the National Safety Council, is an excellent summary of the risks involved when drivers start send or read text messages while their foot is on the brake and the vehicle is stopped. The problems include not paying attention to when it is safe to proceed, slow starts that congest traffic and annoy other drivers, failures to perceive changes in the traffic situations while looking at the cell phone, and going forward without taking the time to view and comprehend the surrounding traffic.
This article is an important reminder for parents of teen drivers, that their warnings about, and steps to prevent, texting need to include whenever the car is not in Park. Parent-teen driving agreements need to make this clear: no use of any electronic device that could be a distraction “when the car is not in Park.” Here is the link:
Seven years ago today, Reid left us too soon.
For a long time — in fact, until recently — I regularly counted the weeks and then months and then years that had passed since that cataclysmic day. I suppose I was trying to defy the passage of time by keeping track of it, making sure that Reid’s memory was not fading, no matter how many days had gone by.
In the past several months, I now realize, I have stopped counting, and the primary reason is that Ellen, Martha and I have witnessed so many of you embrace Reid’s story as part of the cause of safer teen driving. In a very real way, seven years after his passing, Reid’s star is rising. Your enthusiastic support for From Reid’s Dad and now Not So Fast have shown us that you are our partners in tending to Reid’s legacy. It is hard to express how gratifying and comforting this feels.
I have often said that I did not start my From Reid‘s Dad blog or publish Not So Fast as therapy for our family tragedy; I launched into writing because after serving on Connecticut’s Safe Teen Driving Task Force, I was convinced that there is a big gap nationally in the information available to parents of teen drivers, and someone needed to fill it. The motivation has always been, “How can I not do this?”. The blog and book have been public service, not emotional recovery.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the bookstore . If my subliminal goal, shared by so many parents who have lost a child, was to make sure Reid did not die in vain, then this year, it appears that that has been arranged. Reid is becoming one of the national faces of safer teen driving, through the loving help of Our Safe Teen Driving Friends.
This realization was slow to emerge; there was no epiphany or magic moment. Perhaps the September 9, 2013 Launch Party for Not So Fast came the closest – 150 friends gathered to celebrate in a room where, front and center, was a poster of Reid — adorned with balloons.
Our family will always have what the writer Anna Quindlen has called “a chasm deep in the middle of who we are,” a feeling of loss that never goes away. But this year, with your help, we have the distinct sense of something gained, of a counterweight to Reid’s loss. He has become less of a memory and more of mantle. Seven years after he died, Reid is saving lives. It’s a great feeling.
I have debated whether to end this post with a list of those we want to thank, for fear of leaving someone or some organization out, but decided to take the risk. So, by way of giving a shout-out to everyone who has helped with From Reid’s Dad and Not So Fast, from Ellen, Martha and me, THANK YOU ALL:
· Cathy Gillen
· Curt Clarisey
· Joy Tutela
· Everyone at Chicago Review Press and Independent Publishers Group
· Pam Fischer
· The Denver 2013 Lifesavers Conference Focus Group
· Dr. Kelly Browning and Impact Teen Drivers
· Garry Lapidus, Kevin Borrup, Dr. Brendan Campbell, and everyone at Ct Children’s Medical
· Everyone at Kohl’s Stores
· Bill Seymour, Commissioner Currey and the DMV Teen Driving Advisory Committee
· Sherry Chapman and everyone at Mourning Parents Act
· Sandy Spavone, Lindsay Colcombe and everyone at NOYS and FCCLA
· Duby McDowell
· Everyone at Asylum Hill Congregational Church
· Erin Meluso and Roy Bavaro of NOYS and Penny Wells of SADD
· Starrla Penick of MADD
· Bruce Hamilton, Peter Kissinger and Jack Hoch of AAA Foundation
· Diana Dias, Dave Raposa, and Fran Mayko of AAA of Southern New England
· Kathleen Miklus, Friends of the Simsbury Library, and the Ct-N Television Network
· Monika Samtani of WUSA TV in Washington DC
· Dave Wallace, the Traffic Safety Guy
· Bob Green and John Berger of Survive the Drive
· Paula Fahy Ostop and her colleagues at Go Media
· John Dankofsy and everyone at WNPR Radio
· My Shipman & Goodwin colleagues and co-workers, especially our School Law Group and Marketing Department
· Those who have posted reviews on Amazon
· Those who have contributed to Reid’s Memorial Fund over and above buying books
· Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, for the five-star reviews
· Chairman Deborah Hersman, Jenny Cheek and Stephanie Davis of the National Transportation Safety Board
· State Representatives Tony Guerrera, Tim Ackert, and David Scribner
· Administrator David Strickland and everyone at NHTSA, especially Region 1
· Jonathan Adkins and everyone at GHSA
· Allan Williams and Secretary Norman Mineta
· Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr
· Joe Cristalli, Robbin Cabelus, and Juliet Little of Connecticut DOT
· Pina Violano of Yale-New Haven Hospital
· Kirsten Hawkins and the American Academy of Pediatrics
· Jen Stockburger and Ami Ghadia of Consumer Reports
· Dave Preusser and Neil Chaudhary
· Rick Green and Rose Lichtenfels of the Hartford Courant
· Mark Pazniokas of the Ct Mirror
· The professional driving schools owners and instructors of ADTSEA and NETSEA
· Maureen Vogel everyone at National Safety Council and the Drive It Home website
· Everyone at Ford Driving Skills for Life
· Brandi Anderson Nannini and Jaime Alvis and everyone at the Century Council and IKnowEverything
· Sharon Silke Carty and everyone at AOL Autos and the Huffington Post
· Janette Fennell at Kids and Cars
· Kym Drake and everyone at IDriveSafely
· Melanie Batenchuk at BeCarChic
· Hillary Rettig
· Seth Maloney
· Julie and Lloyd Garner of Project Yellow Light
· Joan Hunt and the Reminder News
· Jim MacPherson, The Car Doctor
· Andrea Obston
· Radio host Mary Jones
· Patrice McCabe and the Ct Association of Boards of Education
Wishing you all of the joys of the holiday season.
I have been asked by the Century Council and its IKnowEverything program to submit a series of guest posts. Here is the first one!
I am going to call a technical foul on Subaru for its recent TV commercial entitled “Stick Shift.” It shows a father instructing his teenage son in how to drive a stick shift, while the boy’s twin brother sits in the back seat. The car lurches forward as the father pleads with his son to put the car in second gear. The twin in the back accuses his brother of wrecking the car. The message is that Subaru’s are built tough enough to handle training a teen driver.
By showing a sibling in the back seat during driving instruction, the commercial shows conduct that is illegal in several states, and that most of the driving instructors I have talked to say is a bad idea. They say that a driving lesson should be a driving lesson, undistracted by siblings or any other passenger. The ad also implies that there is nothing wrong with having a sibling as a passenger, which is not so. As the saying goes, “Do you want to trust your most precious cargo to your least experienced driver?” Recently in Minnesota, one of a teen driver’s three younger sibling passengers was killed on the way to school. Lastly, how many teens today drive a stick shift, and isn’t a stick shift one more challenge that a new driver doesn’t need?
I am pleased to share the link below to a guest post of mine that was published yesterday by the Huffington Post. HP is doing a month-long series on distracted driving by all drivers, not just teens. From the link below you can jump to other guest posts and videos on the same subject. I note with interest that I shared the guest post privilege yesterday with Deborah Hersman, Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Here is the link:
What keeps me going with this blog and the promotion of Not So Fast? Emails like this one, from a mother of a new teen driver:
“I just finished “Not So Fast” and printed out the Model Teen Driving Agreement. Last month, my son flipped our vehicle on a slippery road while buckled in and not speeding (going the speed limit of 35). He had his license one week to the day. He had his friend in the car. Their guardian angels were with them and they are OK. We had signed the Allstate Teen Agreement but I like yours better. We are updating our agreement and we are far more knowledgeable after reading your book. I’m so sorry for your loss. Reid was a beautiful young man.”
As much as I try to keep up with changes in technology that affect driving, so I can integrate the latest developments into my advice to parents of teen drivers, I will admit to sometimes feeling, and being, behind the curve. And so it was when I received a press release from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles warning young drivers about what apparently has become a fad: using cell phones to take and send photos of themselves while driving. If I had heard about “Selfies” before I don’t remember it. (I had heard about a similar Facebook game in which teen drivers get the speedometer of their car above 100 MPH, take a photo of the dashboard, and post the photo to their Facebook page or somewhere else on social media.)
Needless to say, the DMV release, http://www.ct.gov/dmv/cwp/view.asp?Q=534928&A=807, contains a stern warning about the dangers of using a cell phone to take a selfie while driving. But let me add a few observations about this phenomenon. First, selfies are a good illustration of the fact that because the human brain is not fully developed until we reach our mid-20’s, teens are attracted to risk taking and do not fully appreciate the danger of doing things like taking a selfie. Second, selfies illustrate a gap in our distracted driving laws and how they don’t keep up with latest technology or uses of it. I seriously doubt that any distracted driving or cell phone law anywhere that expressly prohibits the operator of a motor vehicle from taking a photograph, and thus there is technically no prohibition on taking a photo of oneself. This practice would only be covered under the more general reckless driving laws. In fact, in my new book Not So Fast, www.nsfteendriving.com, I advocate an all-encompassing ban on electronic devices for teen drivers (“no use of any device to text, type, read, watch video, or make a phone call while the vehicle is in gear”), but I didn’t think about taking photos.
Selfies, then, are another powerful argument for a zero tolerance policy for teen drivers and electronic devices: the cellphone goes in the glove box before the ignition is turned on, it stays there until the car is turned off, and teens do not use dashboard-mounted interactive screens while driving; they focus on the road.
Recently it has been my privilege to be in contact with the folks at IDriveSafely, an online driving school based in Carlsbad, California. They were kind enough to conduct an interview with me and post an article on their website about Not So Fast. I am pleased below to pass along information about their national teen video contest about distracted driving, which is underway with entries due November 22.
I Drive Safely Launches ‘Heads Up, Hands on the Wheel’ Anti Distracted Driving Campaign in Time for National Teen Driver Safety Week Oct. 20-26
Campaign Kicks Off With ‘Watch Out Loud!’ Teen Video Contest on Facebook
CARLSBAD, Calif. Oct. 21, 2013- I Drive Safely, the nation’s leading online provider of driver education training programs, today announced the launch of its ongoing campaign against Distracted Driving called “Heads Up, Hands on the Wheel,” to help drivers understand the definition of distracted driving, the dangers that it imposes on their safety and those around them, and how to practice safer habits to prevent it.
The campaign kicks off today with the “Watch Out Loud!” teen video contest on Facebook at http://bit.ly/HauudU in coordination with the 7th annual National Teen Driver Safety Week Oct. 20-26, supported by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. In addition, this age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
The “Watch Out Loud!” Teen Video Contest encourages teens to take a stance against driving distracted by creating a video up to two minutes highlighting the dangers of distracted driving for other teen drivers. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 22 and prizes include:
· First prize: GoPro® HERO3+ camera and $2,500 donation to the winner’s school
· Second prize: $200 Amazon® gift card and $1,000 donation to the winner’s school
· Third prize: $100 Amazon gift card and $1,000 donation to the winner’s school
The official contest rules and links to the entry forms can be found at http://bit.ly/HauudU or under the Distracted Driving tab on I Drive Safely’s blog, The Express Lane. People’s Choice voting begins Nov. 23 on Facebook and winners will be announced Dec. 10. I Drive Safely is encouraging the public to vote for their favorite video and share their vote and support for the campaign on their personal social media pages.
The ‘Heads Up, Hands on the Wheel’ campaign is designed to educate drivers of all ages about the three types of distractions that can occur while driving: visual, manual and cognitive.
“Texting is by far the most distracting activity that drivers can engage in, but people need to know that other activities such as eating, grooming or adjusting the radio are in some respects equally dangerous since it causes drivers to take their eyes off the road,” says Greg Hallinan, Chief Marketing Officer of I Drive Safely.
In 2009, the public took notice about the dangers of text messaging while driving and distracted driving in general when the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released its breakthrough study on cell phones and distracted driving.
“The message that resonated with people was that text messaging while driving increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 23 times over a driver who wasn’t distracted,” said Hallinan. “With teens at the highest risk for accidents and driving fatalities, I Drive Safely felt it was important to kick off a public awareness campaign, with a focus on teen drivers, to help educate them about the importance of removing or ignoring distractions when they are driving a vehicle.”
Teens age 15-19 are encouraged to show their support of the campaign by entering the “Watch Out Loud!” Teen Video Contest on Facebook starting today through Nov. 22 at http://bit.ly/HauudU. For more information about I Drive Safely’s “Heads Up, Hands on the Wheel” campaign or “Watch Out Loud!” contest, visit http://expresslane.idrivesafely.com/distracted-driving.
About I Drive Safely
Based in Carlsbad, Calif., I Drive Safely, LLC is dedicated to building better, safer, more accomplished drivers through its industry–leading, computer-based training programs. More than 5 million consumers have completed the company’s state-by-state approved online training courses, from new teen drivers looking to earn their licenses, to adult drivers looking to complete court or insurance-mandated remediation. Learn more about the nation’s leading online provider of driver safety, education and training; visit www.idrivesafely.com.
Those of you with keen powers of observation may have noted that I have not posted very many new items this month. Well, that is because for National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 20-25, I was invited three times to submit a guest post on other national blogs: BeCarChic (a Washington, D.C. based group of all-things-automobiles), IKnowEverything (run by the Century Council, an association of the distiller businesses), and today the National Safety Council. I am honored to have been asked to do so. Links to the three guests posts are below (so we will count this as three posts!):
National Safety Council: