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Attorneys Richard P. Hastings and Timothy Hollister are Interviewed by WFSB on Teen Driver Safety

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

Attorneys Richard P. Hastings and Timothy Hollister are Interviewed by WFSB on Teen Driver Safety

 

Attorney Richard P Hastings, a personal injury lawyer with the Connecticut law firm of Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP and Attorney Timothy Hollister, a land-use lawyer with Shipman and Goodwin in Hartford were interviewed by Kim Lucey of Channel 3 WFSB on teen driver safety.

 

Both Attorney Hastings and Attorney Hollister are on the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles Teen Safe Driving Committee which is developing proposed national models for safer teen driving. Tim Hollister spoke about his son Reid, who died in a motor vehicle accident, which experience spawned his book “Not So Fast”. He also stressed the fact that this was the single greatest cause of death for individuals from 16 to 21.

 

Richard Hastings spoke about the parent driver agreement which was drafted by the committee and can be downloaded by visiting www.CT.gov/teendriveragreement. He also discussed the importance of parents being good role models for their teen drivers because teens are more likely to be involved in an accident if their parents engage in bad driving behavior and the fact that parents need to be constantly involved in monitor their teen’s driving behavior.

 

Tim Hollister’s book can be found at www.nsfteendriving.com and additional information on teen driver safety can be found at www.ct.gov/teendriving.com

When Teen Driving Accidents Hit Home: Getting the Call that Your Teen Has Been in a Car Accident

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

Coincidentally, I had just concluded my meeting with a CT DMV official in Wethersfield about the production of the new Teen Safe Driver video when I received a call from my son, a high school senior.  “Dad, I’ve been involved in an accident.”  “Zach” I said “are you alright?” “My neck really hurts and I think the car is totaled but it wasn’t my fault!”

I then begin one of the longest rides back from Wethersfield that I have ever experienced.  I begin to think of the potentially life altering effects this could have on his very young life.  These thoughts flooded into my mind as I prepared myself for the worst.

I arrive at the Danbury Hospital emergency room and begin to get the news when I meet my son and wife.  He is stretched out in the hallway on a gurney, a brace around his neck, in excruciating pain.  Evidently, while leaving the high school at the end of the day, the traffic in front of him slowed down and as he slowed down as well, he was hit from behind at full speed by a 16 year old who was evidently using his cell phone and did not even apply the brakes.  Zach was then catapulted into the car in front of him.  He showed us the pictures of the car and it was crushed in on both the rear and the front. We later find out that the other driver became distracted while handling his phone.

As we waited for him to have a CT scan, the recurring thought going through my mind was: “what if.”  Although I was just working on the new Teen Driver video, all of this became so much more real.  Teen driving accidents are the number one cause of teen deaths and serious injuries.  The video was literally playing out in my mind.

So what is the message and the lesson to be learned?  As parents, we have an obligation to really impress upon our kids the fact that driving a motor vehicle is a very serious undertaking that can result in dire consequences if not done properly.

Parents, please review the rules with your teens.  Impress upon them the very real dangers in not following these rules.  Establish consequences for violations of these rules and constantly reinforce and monitor these rules and their compliance with them.

One of the best ways to have this dialogue and establish these hard and fast rules is to download the CT DMV Parent/Teen Driver Agreement that our Safe Teen Driver Committee just completed.  It can be found at http://www.ct.gov/dmv/lib/dmv/parent_teen_agreement.pdf.

This incident really underscores what is important in life and how things can change in an instant.  It has reminded us of how grateful we are for family and health.  I hope we as parents can be actively involved in our teens’ driving development to help prevent these needless accidents and we hope the other young man, who was involved this accident, is well and has learned a valuable lesson.

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.

National Teen Driving Safety Week: It Takes a Village to Help Educate Our New Teen Drivers

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teenage deaths. Sadly, each week 68 families across the country have to deal with the unimaginable horror of burying their child. This equates to one teen driving death every two and a half hours. As a result of this epidemic, Congress in 2007 declared that the third week in October is to be recognized as National Teen Driver Safety Week.

CT DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey announced that her office has taken some special initiatives to help teens and parents understand the importance of safety behind the wheel. The Commissioner has created a special advisory committee, which first met last week, to address the key aspects of promoting safety, the state’s tough laws and training requirements for 16 and 17-year-old drivers. “This is a time nationally and in Connecticut for reminding our youngest drivers and their parents about preparation, caution and diligence behind the wheel,” said Commissioner Currey.

One of the greatest challenges faced by our new drivers is the lack of experience in operating a motor vehicle. This lack of experience and the dangers that are present is highlighted in a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which found that teens are much more likely to get into an accident during the first month of driving.

The data studied concerned teen accidents in North Carolina from 2001 through 2008 and determined that teens were more than 50% likely to get involved in an accident during their first 30 days of unsupervised driving than they were after their first year on the road.  During those first 30 days, first time unsupervised drivers, were almost twice as likely to be involved in an accident than they were after two years behind the wheel.

So what were the main causes of almost 60% of these accidents?  The three most common mistakes made by these inexperienced drivers that resulted in accidents were: speeding, not paying attention and failing to yield to another vehicle. One of the most common driving situations that resulted in accidents was left hand turns. But as teen drivers gained the needed experience accidents involving left hand turns dropped dramatically.

What can parents do, especially during this nationally recognized teen education week, to help reduce teen driving accidents? Be a good role model for your child. Review driving basics with your teen driver including safe stopping distances and being very careful in left hand turn situations. Establish a vehicle safety check that should be performed before operating the vehicle. Go over emergency situations and what to do if one occurs and talk about the common causes of accidents that must be avoided: speeding; distracted driving; and violating motor vehicle laws.

You should also develop rules and backup plans that anticipate that your teen may make a mistake and get into a situation where they may need to call you. This plan should include the understanding that they should call you, without a fear that might otherwise dissuade them from, seeking your needed counsel.

As parents, we can take these much needed opportunities to further educate and train our teens in how to understand anticipate the ever present dangers that they confront on a daily basis in an effort to increase their chances of avoiding an accident. By discussing these thoughts with your children, friends and neighbors we can help each other and hopefully greatly reduce these largely avoidable accidents.

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.

Download | Teen Driver and Parent/Guardian Contract

Bridgeport, Norwalk, Danbury, Ridgefield, Stamford, Connecticut

The Teen Driver & Parent/Guardian Contract: 

It is no secret that good communication contributes to healthy families and relationships through a more thorough understanding of the expectations of all involved. The goal of this contract is to get the parents and teen to find the time to sit down, and articulate exactly what they expect of each other, as it relates to their child’s driving experience. Understanding and agreeing to explicitly stated expectations and obligations will discourage prohibited behavior and alleviate issues resulting from misunderstanding and “grey” areas. Further, your teen driver should be better equipped to enjoy his/her driving experience because he/she knows exactly what is expected of him or her. A collaborative effort, involving both parties will be more supportive and contribute to the teenager’s maturation as a driver

To download your own copy, please fill out the form below.