Sometimes, when I'm watching TV, I am so moved by some small fact on a
show or during a commercial that I must get up immediately to research
the subject. I saw a commercial just now from Allstate Insurance that
shows a long line of vehicles driving on the highway towards the
viewer; as we watch, we see that each car is filled with carefree
teenagers. My first impression was how much I liked the music, and that
once I heard enough of the lyrics, I might want to see whether I could
buy the song on iTunes. But then I heard the voiceover begin: "Every
year nearly 6000 teenagers go out for a drive..." and as the camera
angle changes to watch the line of cars driving away, it continued,
"and never come back."
Well, that statement moved me. It got me up off the couch and over to my computer, so I could check the allstateteendriver.com site to learn about Allstate's Parent/Teen Driving Contract. I found an abundance of information, too much to present all in one blog, so in addition to the highlights below, I strongly recommend that you browse the site yourself, as well. You can also watch the commercial here: http://www.allstateteendriver.com/commercial.swf
According to Allstate, "You are the strongest influence on your teen, especially when it comes to driving safely. That's why Allstate created the Parent-Teen Driving Contract. It helps you talk together about the importance of safe driving. It lets you set guidelines and discuss consequences. Most importantly, it starts a conversation that might save your teen's life." The excellent site presents a selection of informative subjects from ways to talk about safe driving, ways to make your teen a safe driver, insurance, driver's education programs, as well as information about graduated licensing laws, and much, much, more.
The safe driving page
asks "When's the best time to talk about safe driving? Right now.
Research shows that too many parents put off the conversation until
their teens are "permit age" (generally 15)... But the consequences of
unsafe driving can be deadly, so the earlier you have the conversation,
the better." My own son is 14 and a half, and it recently occurred to
me that he is less than a year away from getting his permit. Whenever
we drive together, I take every opportunity I have to point out to him
the safe or dangerous techniques of the drivers around me. It's an
ongoing casual conversation that I hope he will remember when it's his
turn to drive. Sometimes he even tells me when what I am doing is
dangerous. It's a good dialogue, and much easier to discuss without the
stressful environment that many encounter the first few times our
children take the wheel.
One of the site's most valuable bits of information is on the Smart Driver page. It says: "Practice what you preach. If you speed, roll through stop signs, make rude gestures at other drivers, or chat on your cell phone behind the wheel, your teen is likely to do the same." This is good advice to remember.
Be sure you visit the Contract page that allows you to create your own Parent/Teen Driving Contract. The document is meant to help parents outline their teen's key driving responsibilities, decide on the consequences associated when those responsibilities are not met, and define the parent's role in helping their teen succeed. Each step of the process is informative, educating users with factoids meant to help your teen become a safer driver. Subjects in the contract include speeding and tickets, drinking and driving, seatbelts, crashes, number of passengers, and more.
By the way, the song in the commercial is called "From Where You Are," and it was written by Jason Wade of the band Lifehouse, specifically for Allstate. The song is "dedicated to the teens who have lost their lives in car accidents, and to allthouse who loved them." The single will be available at iTunes on November 6, or you can watch the beautiful music video through the Allstate site at http://allstateteendriver.com/video.swf.
I want my son to be a safe driver. I
plan to discuss this site with him as soon as he gets home. I recommend
all parents to do the same, and start your own conversation.
By Brandy Schaffels
Contributing editor and mother of a soon-to-be-teen-driver