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Connecticut DMV’s Teen Safe Driving Video Contest: How CT High School Students are Making a Difference with Teen Driver Safety

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

This year over 100 teens statewide submitted a video entry into CT DMV’s teen safe driving video contest; From the Directors Chair to the Drivers Seat. These 25-second video public service announcements focus on teens talking to teens about safe driving. This year’s contest centered around the theme; How a Community Helps to Make Teens Safe Drivers.

The top 5 videos will be awarded cash prizes to the winning student’s high school for supporting teen safe-driving programs in the amounts of: 1st Place – $5,000; 2nd Place – $4,000; 3rd Place – $3,000; 4th Place – $2,000; and 5th Place – $1,000. These prizes are underwritten by the Traveler’s Insurance Company.

These 100 videos have already been viewed and evaluated by screening judges. The top 13 of those videos have been evaluated by finalist judges and next Monday the top five videos will be selected at the Traveler’s Insurance Company corporate headquarters in Hartford.

I have the honor of having been chosen as one of those judges along with: Governor Dannel Malloy; DMV Commissioner Melody Curry; Traveler’s President and COO Brian MacLean; State highway officials; Public health officials; Judicial and law enforcement personnel; The co-chair of the State Transportation Committee; high school students; and other parents, some of whom have lost teens in driving accidents.

This is a very exciting opportunity to discuss weighty teen driving issues with the people who are at the forefront of research, development, enforcement and implementation of teen driving rules, regulations and laws. It will provide staunch advocates of teen driving safety a forum to discuss good ideas that will hopefully morph into the implementation of practical solutions that will help to save our teenagers lives.

A lot of good ideas, programs and educational information will hopefully be generated from this meeting that will be shared with communities across the state. However, the best classrooms where this information can be shared with and taught to our teens is within each teen’s home by involved parents who can make a huge difference in reducing teen driving accidents.

Connecticut’s Safe Teen Driving Awareness Week: Using The New Teen-Driver Agreement to Help Reduce Your Teen’s Crash Risk

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

This week is officially recognized as Connecticut’s Safe Teen Driving Awareness Week which is meant to be an opportunity for community leaders statewide to organize their area teens around the theme of How A Community Helps to Make Teens Safe Drivers.

Connecticut’s Safe Teen Driving Awareness week has taken place in early December for the past several years. This very important educational and awareness week was championed by !MPACT, officially known as Mourning Parents Act, Inc., an organization of families and friends of teens who died in car crashes.

DMV Commissioner Melody Currey’s Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving finalized a new Teen-Parent Driver Agreement this week which is being made available to the public to help raise awareness of the dangers of teen driving and to help reduce a teen driver’s crash risk. The Committee, of which I am a member, worked hard at putting together a comprehensive, user friendly agreement that is to be reviewed and signed by new teen drivers and their parent(s).

Teen-Parent Driving Agreements are a proven way to raise awareness of the dangers of teen driving and reduce a teen driver’s risk of being involved in an accident.  Motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of teenagers.  This Agreement spells out safety risks and what happens if the teen driver violates his/her obligations.  The Agreement is to be reviewed between parent and teen before the teen obtains a learner’s permit, and should be reviewed again when the teen obtains their license.

The new agreement will be placed in the Connecticut driver’s manual for parents and adults involved in a teen driver’s training teens to consider using. It sets out issues for discussion and responsibilities of adults and teen drivers.

DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey, stated that “The new parent-teen agreement also gives communities as well as parents and teens a good starting point for discussions about safety.”

Dr. Brendan Campbell, pediatric surgeon and researcher in teen driving matters, said, “We all – parents, police, health care providers and all other safety advocates – need to remain vigilant in our outreach to these youngest of drivers. Communities and agreements like this one can help tremendously in stemming this public health problem of crashes being the leading cause of death among 15-19 year-old teens.” Dr. Campbell is Director of Pediatric Trauma at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

The new Connecticut Teen-Parent Driver Agreement can be found at:http://www.ct.gov/dmv/lib/dmv/teenparentagreement_dmv_12_2011_final.pdf

Automobile Accidents and Young Adult Fatalities

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

Automobile accidents account for the leading cause of death for young people ages 16 to 21. A major reason for this tragic statistic is driver inexperience. There are a number of other major factors that combine that lead to these deadly consequences. These factors include immaturity, impulsivity, reckless and thrill seeking behavior, peer pressure, poor judgment, speeding, alcohol and drug use, distracted driving and failure to abide by the law.

Parents can help to reduce teen driving accidents by becoming a partner in educating their teen about the great importance in following parent mandated rules and regulations regarding the operation of a motor vehicle. Driver training and education, between the parent and teen, should also be an ongoing exercise to constantly educate teens about new driving situations and reinforce good driving habits already taught to them.

An important consideration for parents to remember about their teen is the fact that a teenagers brain is not yet fully developed and that their brains process information differently than adult brains. As a result something that might seem quite obvious to an adult might not register as such with a teenager. Teens often do not think in advance about the consequences of their actions the way a more mature adult might.

One of the best teaching techniques a parent can utilize with their teen is to be a good role model in how they operate a motor vehicle. You should always use your seat belt before driving your vehicle and insist that all occupants do so before proceeding. Always try and anticipate situations that your teen might have to drive in where they have little experience for example night driving which presents a different set of challenges, driving in the rain or on wet surfaces, snow and ice, especially black ice, and other extreme weather situations.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts teen driving accidents occur that can result in a variety of injuries from minor soft tissue type problems to broken bones to fatal accidents. If you or a loved one have been involved in a teen driving accident it is important to get properly advised as to your rights and determine what you should be doing and as importantly, what you should not be doing. We have been answering questions, advising clients and representing injured parties for decades. Contact us today to get our FREE book, “The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims.” Visit us at www.hcwlaw.com or call us toll free at 888. 842.8466. Let us answer your questions.

Searching For Teen Driving Reformation, Who’s Responsible? How Can We Make a Difference in Effecting Change?

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

In August,  I had written an article in response to the tragic death of one of our teenagers as a result of a teen driving accident. In that story, I suggested that our legislators change the current law requiring that the parent/ teent driver education program, which is required before a teen gets their license, be changed to before they get their permit.

I also suggested that a video be developed that would be mandatory viewing for all parents and teens who are required to attend this class.  The video would stress the great dangers that teens are confronted with in operating a motor vehicle and provide teens with defensive driving techniques and parents with driver education tips to utilize while instructing their children in driver training.

Since the publication of that article, I have communicated with State Senators and Representatives from both parties and the Department of Motor Vehicles about these proposed changes.  I have been met with great enthusiasm and support.

I am happy to report that I met with Melody Currey, the CT Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles, members of her staff, the Injury Prevention Coordinator of the Trauma and Surgical Care Department at Yale-New Haven Hospital, an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at UCONN School of Medicine and Senior Program Manager of the Injury Prevention Center of the CT Children’s Medical Center, a member of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a parent who lost a teenage son in a teen driving motor vehicle accident who was a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Teen Safe Driving.

Commissioner Currey was very interested in these thoughts and ideas and wanted to develop a more comprehensive plan to see how this could be implemented, which spawned the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Teen Driving.

This week approximately twenty-five people met at DMV Headquarters in Wethersfield who comprise the Commissioner’s Committee on Teen Driving.  These people included Federal and State Government Officials, parents, students, a law enforcement officer, a Supervisory Chief State’s Attorney, Public Health indiviuals, an organization of parents of deceased teen drivers, driving school instructors, members of Commissioner Currey’s staff and myself.

Committees were formed to research, investigate and make proposals for a new teen driving video, a parent/teen driver agreement, a parent outreach program along with a proposal for a curriculum for a uniform parent/teen safety class.

There is a lot of work to be done but there are a great number of committed individuals prepared to see this through.  I am very optimistic that we will be able to make a difference in further protecting our children.  Out of sadness we will effect crucial change.

Parent and Teen Driver Contract: Ways to Promote Our Children’s Safety

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

(skip the article just get – Parent and Teen Driver Contract )

An Important Step in Safeguarding Our Children

As the parent of a teenage boy who is about to get his driver’s license, I began to think about the fact that I have not been specific enough about my expectations and the unyielding rules which will apply to his operation of a motor vehicle.

We have discussed the fact that this is a privilege and not a right and that he will soon be in a position where, if he is not careful, he could run the risk of seriously injuring himself, someone or even worse.

We have also discussed the risks that cause most teen driving accidents: inexperience; immaturity; speeding; having other passengers in the vehicle; driving distractions including talking on the cell phone, texting, eating, drinking, playing music or riding with an unrestrained family pet; drugs and alcohol use; and not being incredibly vigilant in the operation of our vehicle and by not practicing defensive driving.

There are so many other issues we did not discuss that need to be addressed, such as:

– Does he need to maintain a certain grade point average in school to be able to drive and if so what?

– What expenses will he be responsible for?

– What restrictions regarding hours of operation, weather conditions, and the number of passengers are to apply?

– What are the hard and fast penalties for having anyone enter the vehicle that has drugs or alcohol?

– What are the unyielding penalties if he ever consumes alcohol or does drugs and then operates the vehicle?

– What are the penalties for any moving violation which he receives?

– What happens if the he causes property damages or injures someone in an accident?

– What happens if he needs to call for alternative transportation to avoid either riding in or driving a vehicle where alcohol or drugs are involved?

After considerable thought I decided the best way to memorialize these requirements and so there can be no room for a misunderstanding, was to draft a Parent and Teen Driver Contract which sets forth all of the rules and penalties for not following the requirements that are specifically set forth in the contract. I sat down with my son to fully review these requirements and to once again explain to him the great responsibilities that come with operating a potential object of death and destruction. I fully reviewed all of the terms, the reasons for their imposition and the consequences for violating any such rule.

I also explained that if he ever operated a motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or doing drugs his privilege to operate any motor vehicle, exclusive of what the court system or the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles does, would be permanently revoked for the duration of his high school career.

One great benefit of the Parent and Teen Driver Contract is that it allows me, once again, to fully explain each rule, the reason for the rule, and the consequences, which result from any violation. It allows me to stress the profound importance of the rules and the formality of signing the contract reinforces this fact.

Despite understanding the reasons for its imposition, I was met with the initial resistance from my son in being required to sign a seemingly onerous document. I told my son that he did not have to sign it but that it was a requirement for operating any of our motor vehicles. After further discussion, it was signed.

The contract should provide one more safeguard in making my son a better driver, a more vigilant and defensive operator and will help my wife and me to feel just a little better knowing that we have taken this collaborative step in reinforcing these important considerations.

Please, click here to download a FREE copy of the Parent and Teen Driver Contract.


By Connecticut Attorney, Richard P. Hastings