Natatia Bledsoe is the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.
Remind teen drivers to stay safe behind the wheel
It’s a well known fact that I am the meanest and most unreasonable mother in the whole world. Just ask my teenaged boys. I ask ridiculously pointed questions about where they are, where they’re going, and who they’re with. I’m not always satisfied with the answers I receive so I ask again. I verify and I double-check. I’m sure I make their lives miserable.
While leaving the doctor’s office recently with my younger son, the doctor (a mother herself) advised him on our way out the door: “Car accidents are the number one cause of death for 15-20 year olds. Don’t drink and drive, and always wear your seatbelt!” This public service announcement was well-timed as high school graduations take place and we enter the summer season, statistically the most dangerous time of year for young drivers.
Teenagers are among the least likely age group of drivers to wear seat belts, while they are the most likely to be distracted by cell phones, loud music, and the antics of their passengers. According to AAA, the presence of just one teenaged passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by almost fifty percent, while the nighttime crash rates for teens are double that of daytime rates due to a young driver’s lack of experience and judgment.
These factors are behind the laws that curtail late night teen driving and limit the number of their passengers, and these laws help parents to set appropriate limits on their teen drivers.
My husband frequently reminds the boys: “Our job is to keep you alive.”
Accomplishing this mission sometimes requires me to enthusiastically embrace the role of Meanest Mother, to which my younger son will attest. I’m fairly certain that Younger Son holds the current record for “Fastest Forced Surrender of a New Driver’s License”, after some poor decisions on his part led to the parental suspension of his driving privileges just 48 hours after DMV issued him a brand new license.
While this 30-day takeover of Younger Son’s license seemed harsh at the time, the Commonwealth of Virginia has similar mandatory suspension penalties for drivers under the age of eighteen who commit certain driving and other offenses, including seatbelt violations. To avoid the loss of that precious key to freedom and, more importantly, to protect their safety, teen drivers should be urged to:
- BUCKLE UP!
- SLOW DOWN!
- DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!