Plenty of dads connected with a car ad that first aired on TV two years ago.
In that 30-second Subaru spot, a father leans in the passenger window of the car, parked in the family’s driveway, and methodically gives his daughter safety reminders just before her first solo drive. He finally hands the keys to his 16-year-old, but in the commercial’s early moments, the girl strapping on her seatbelt as he delivers his pointers looks 6 years old again, in his eyes.
“So, you can see good? Got the mirrors all adjusted, and you can see everything OK? Just stay off the freeways; I don’t want you going out on those yet. Just leave your phone in your purse. I don’t want you texting.” She gets the keys, thanks him, and starts backing out of the driveway. The dad adds, “Call me, but not while you’re driving.”
There’s a better chance the teen will follow those instructions if she’s seen her parents observe those same driving standards.
The youngest drivers often mimic the bad habits of their parents, such as disregarding speed limits, going too fast for the weather conditions, rolling through stop signs, and not wearing seatbelts. Last week, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued a report about the upcoming summer driving season. The auto club labeled the Memorial-Day-to-Labor-Day period as “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. That heads-up refers to various studies showing that youngsters often emulate the routines, positive or negative, their parents practice while behind the wheel.
Anyone who chokes up when watching that Subaru ad understands why both generations of drivers need to be smart this summer.
For example, in a separate nationwide survey of 1,200 teenagers conducted for AT&T, 41 percent said their parents text while driving. Fifty-three percent said their parents text while stopped at a traffic light. And, 77 percent said they agreed with the statement, “Adults say that kids should not text or email while driving but they do it themselves, all the time.”
They do what they see. Parents, and adults in general, need to remember their influence.
“It’s become a part of their culture, and adults are doing it, too,” said Stan Henderson, a longtime advocate of stronger teen driving laws and a retired Indiana State University associate professor of health and safety.
It is indeed cultural. According to AT&T’s teen driver survey, 90 percent of teens expect a reply to a text within five minutes. They should resist that urge. Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to crash than those who don’t, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded.
Henderson is an expert on safe driving. In addition to his long tenure at ISU, he helped the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration develop national standards for teen driving. In July, he’ll become president of the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association. The teen driving laws in Indiana, toughened in 2009 and 2010 by the Legislature, are adequate, in his opinion. Enforcement is the key.
“We need to stop and get serious about implementing what we have, and get the culture, and the parents, and the kids on the same page — that it’s cool to be safe,” Henderson said.
The “graduated driver licensing” laws work by safely giving teens more road experience before they get full driving privileges. In 2009, Indiana enacted a curfew on night-time driving, and restrictions on passengers and cellphone use for teens, as well as requiring them to get 50 hours of practice time with an adult. In 2010, the state upped the minimum ages for driver licensing.
As a result, the number of serious accidents among teens dropped by about 40 percent in one year, said Sherry Deane, public affairs specialist for AAA in Indianapolis.
The laws mean nothing, though, unless parents honor them. “The parents are really the number 1 enforcer of our teen driving laws,” Deane said. Police can’t monitor who heads out the door of a house with the car keys.
The passenger restriction offers an ideal example. For the first six months with an intermediate license, a teen driver cannot transport any passengers, except an adult 25 years or older riding in the front seat. As Deane tells teens, the law is to protect, not punish, them. The risk of a serious crash doubles with one passenger, triples with two, multiplies five-fold with more. Knowing those statistics, parents should be careful not to let a freshly licensed teen to go “out driving for no real purpose,” Deane said. They need to be headed to an appointed place, at an appointed time. “It’s that out-cruising-around-with-no-real-direction,” she added.
Ideally, the kids should take those drives with a mom, dad or adult family member. Deane said AAA recommends parents supervise their kids through 100 hours of practice time behind the wheel — twice the state requirement. And, when the roles are reversed and the parent drives while the teen rides along, that mother or father should follow their own rules.
Most likely, the teen will mirror those habits, like it or not.
“It’s going to be one of those things where they do as they see, not as you say,” Deane said.
Remember, those teen drivers began taking mental notes years earlier … at about the age of that 6-year-old girl in the Subaru commercial.
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or email@example.com.
Plenty of dads connected with a car ad that first aired on TV two years ago.
EDITORIAL: A timely call-out of NSA critics
As if it couldn’t get worse, politicians in Washington have again tied themselves in knots.
Yes, we know. What else is new?
READERS' FORUM: June 19, 2013
• Nutrition info falling short
RONN MOTT: Why Syria?
Russia is making a lot of noise in favor of Syria. They are supplying Assad’s army with more armaments and basic things such as ammunition and such.
LIZ CIANCONE: Another beloved dog goes to heaven
We are short one granddog. This past week, “Indy” could no longer use her back legs and she went to that great dog kennel in the hereafter.
READERS’ FORUM: June 18, 2013
• Beware those who follow Ayn Rand
• Poor excuse for gas price hikes
MAX JONES: For loyal readers, a bit of news from the T-S newsroom
As journalists toiling to create a content-rich, relevant and compelling community newspaper each day, we feel a special bond with our legions of readers across the Wabash Valley and beyond.
GUEST COLUMN: One Million Bones exhibit meant to raise awareness, inspire action to end genocide
The National Mall: A grassy corridor in Washington, D.C., lined with America’s greatest museums and monuments.
Ending at the U.S. Capitol building, it is a symbol of our belief in the power and greatness of America. Last weekend, we turned it into a mass grave.
EDITORIAL: Insisting on ISTEP quality lawmakers’ primary duty
Now that everyone, on both sides of the aisle, seems backslappingly happy to agree that this spring’s ISTEP school testing debacle was unacceptable, that at least some of the results lack credibility and that the issue carries high-stakes significance, what next?
The Obama Debate: Is he a liar or incompetent?
I read the letters on the opinion page daily and I find an unusual silence from your liberal progressive contributors lately. Could it be because they don’t have anything to expound upon? Well, maybe I can give them some material.
A Fathers Day Tribute: Transition — from child to father
Transition seems like a big word to use as his story unfolds. Transition was probably never used in conjunction with speech, his speech, but it demonstrates his life, as it does in many lives lived in his generation.
READERS' FORUM: June 16, 2013
Horrible crime cries out for stern justice
Confused about groups’ merger
Global warming fraud exposed
The Obama Debate: President has served us well
I have not heard a positive thing by those in this area about this president since his 2008 election and 2009 inauguration. Why this manifestation, I just can’t understand.
RONN MOTT: Not hurried a bit by 21st century tech
Unlike so many of you, I do not get up in the morning and run to turn on my computer. In fact, if you need to reach me in a hurry, I would say that 19th century invention of Alexander Bell’s would be the best way. If you do email me or use some other electronic convenience, better give it a couple of days because I am not in that big of a hurry.
READERS' FORUM: June 15, 2013
America needs another hero
EDITORIAL: And now we wait for justice
It is a word we would rather never have on our front page — homicide. That we had to use it twice on Wednesday’s front page is sad, but unavoidable.
READERS' FORUM: June 14, 2013
Mott statements contradict history
Display the flag
RONN MOTT: Kill the Umpire!
I don’t know who appointed Major League Baseball’s umpires “Gods,” but if they have been appointed “Gods,” they have appointed people who cannot see or think very well.
READERS' FORUM: June 13, 2013
Bad odor from gas prices
Build personal library
Morning after? No worries
EDITORIAL: Remembering Sister Jeanne
Terre Haute is mourning the loss this week of an accomplished and beloved community activist and leader whose life’s work is an inspiration to all who strive to serve.
EDITORIAL: Embrace the value of traffic planning
Never underestimate the value of a good plan to deal with a crisis, large or small, even if the final analysis of the management of a specific crisis is, “It could have been worse.”
READERS' FORUM: June 12, 2013
Like it or not, change coming
RONN MOTT: What’s happening?
I know I may have looked at these situations differently when I was in my twenties. The world, my life, my career, and the growth of my family all lay ahead of me. So perhaps now, many years later, I see it differently.
READERS’ FORUM: June 11, 2013
• Great support for local cause
• Another idea on housing issue
LIZ CIANCONE: Withdrawn society not very social any more
My Best Friend and I went out for lunch the other day. It was a sit-down place with our own “server” (in my day I was called “a waitress”) and everything offering personal attention. The manager even came over to ask if everything was all right.
READERS’ FORUM: June 10, 2013
• What is the cost of our austerity?
• Vintage campers to gather at rally
• Seek a healthy food alternative
EDITORIAL: It’s time to assess ISTEP
Later this month, the company behind this spring’s abysmal online administration of ISTEP testing for 27,000 Hoosier schoolchildren is being called to the principal’s office.
Readers’ Forum: June 9, 2013
• Taking time to help the world
• Reform by politics will not improve education
• Questions from a wondering mind
FLASHPOINT: Storm chasers must heed warnings, remember why we chase storms
The tragic death of noted weather researcher and former Discovery Channel storm chaser Tim Samaras has shaken all of us in the meteorological community.
Will you be happy if you win the lottery?
A Psychology Today article titled “What Will You Do if You Win the $550 Million Powerball Lottery?” caught my attention. Helping lottery winners with their money is my long-time gig.
- RONN MOTT: The ‘wilds’ of Collett Park
- More Opinion Headlines
- EDITORIAL: A timely call-out of NSA critics