Fort Worth, Texas,
17
October
2016
|
05:02 PM
America/Chicago

‘Who is driving so fast?’ ‘It's my daughter!’

A mom talks speeding and the consequences to driving too fast

While driving home on a dark road one Saturday evening, I hear the loud roar of an engine. I feel the vibration of a speeding car pass me by. We are on a two-lane road where the speed limit is 55, but that person seems to be going almost twice the legal limit.

”Who is driving so fast?!!!”

Once the dust clears, I see that the fast, reckless driver was none other than my sweet 17-year old daughter! This can’t be my little girl. Can it?

I speed up in an effort to make eye contact with her, but couldn't. She was simply going too fast. I realize there’s no way to catch up to her without being a reckless driver myself. So, I slow down and say a quick prayer for her safe arrival at home.

Thank goodness we are only two miles away from home. We do get home safely, but the prayer doesn’t help me with my anger. I see red.

The harsh reality of this whole situation is that yes, my child was driving reckless and driving way too fast. I had to face this new found reality head on, and realize that my child isn’t perfect and that it could’ve easily been me receiving that dreadful unwanted phone call or knock at the door ….

I’m thankful that I was in the right place at the right time, if I had been a second earlier or a second later, I wouldn’t have known about the poor choice my daughter made.

I thought I did everything right. My daughter took driving school very seriously. We’ve had multiple conversations about being safe and paying attention, while being aware of her total surroundings. I can still hear myself saying …” When you drive, you drive for everyone else on the road.”

But in the end, none of that mattered that evening. Just part of being a teenager, right? Maybe, but that doesn’t ease my mind at all.

According to AAA, teen drivers were involved in nearly 14,000 fatal crashes in just the past five years. Yikes!

But parents, we have to take some responsiblity. AAA gives these tips for parents:

  • Commit to being active in the learning-to-drive process and set a good example behind the wheel.
  • Enroll your teen in a quality driver edcuation program. 
  • Enforce Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions at home.
  • Sign a parent-teen driving agreement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. 

I sat down with Lonny Haschel, a sergeant for Texas Highway Patrol, to share my experience and to gain more insight of the life and death decisions our children make every day. Sergeant Haschell says “all teen drivers have tunnel vision, they just don’t think.” They get in the car and drive and forget everything they’ve been taught sometimes.

Our job as parents is to make sure they don’t forget next time.

Because my daughter decided to not think, she had to deal with the consequences of her actions. I didn't allow her drive her car or any other car for at least one month. Sergeant Haschel also suggests she wrote her own driving contract. Having a written agreement can be very effective as your teen driver sets their (mutually agreed upon) own rules, privileges and consequences.

And trust me, if I ever catch her going that fast again .... well, it will be trouble. Most importantly, I just want my daughter to be safe and not hurt herself or anyone else while she's on the road.

Please see these helpful resources for teen drivers:

 

About the author

Janeen Walls is the community relations coordinator in the public relations department at Cook Children's Health Care System. To schedule a speaker for your organization, please visit Experts on Call.

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