Last night First Impact, the traffic safety program, held a 90-minute informational presentation led by the Director of First Impact Deana Dothage for both teenagers and parents. Another informational session open to the public takes place at Battle High School on Nov. 13. First First Impact’s goal is to reduce new driver crashes that causes injuries and fatalities by increasing parental awareness and enforcement of the Graduated Driver License law (GDL). On the whole, Dothage recommends parents with new drivers to write up a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement.
“Research shows that if they know what the consequence are they are gonna [have a] better behavior,” Dothage said. “If my son knows that if he’s caught without seat belts or if he’s caught talking on the phone, he’s going to be riding the bus. [By knowing the consequences] they are less likely to do risky behavior.”
Deputy Steven Verbel, a guest speaker and presenter, agrees with Dothage on the importance of parents and their teens making fixed terms when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
“It spells it out clearly. It makes the expectations known from both sides.” Verbel said, “As we would like, when the contract gets made, both parties to have input into it.”
The session was held in the cafeteria from 6:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. Leila Willmore, a parent who attended the presentation, said she knew about the GDL law beforehand and appreciated hearing from the different speakers as it settled her concerns about her son who will soon be driving.
“I have a son who will be taking his instructional permit test this week,” Willmore said. “The timing is perfect and I want us all to be as prepared for this big step as possible.”
Both Dothage and Verbel broke down how parents can help monitor and prepare their kids using the following five critical steps:
- Increase practice driving hours; 40 required, 100 recommended, and 10 required at night.
- Limit nighttime driving: Your teen may not drive alone between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
- Limit passengers: Only one passenger the first six months of independent driving.
- Enforce safety belt use: All drivers and passenger must wear safety bells.
- Create and enforce a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement.
The information Willmore learned facilitated discussion at home with her husband and son, whom she wished had gone to the meeting with her as she holds it in high regard.
“I learned more about the details of laws in place that will help me set boundaries and incrementally prepare my son for safe, independent driving,” Willmore said. “I felt empowered to set expectations from the start that will help us all feel safe.”