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Heather White

Talking With Your Teen About Underage Drinking

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Ten Tips On Talking With Your Teens About Underage Drinking

Teens whose parents talk to them about drinking are much more likely to be safe and to make good choices than those whose parents never address the subject.
Alcohol is the number one substance of abuse for teens. You have the power to influence your teen’s choices about drinking, so get talking.

    1. Make it a conversation, not a lecture. When you talk with your children about drinking, listen to them and respect what they say.
    2. Take advantage of everyday “teachable moments.” Use everyday events in your life to point out things you’d like your child/teen to know about.
    3. Talk about peer pressure. Brainstorm with him/her on a few ways to navigate tricky social situations. Rehearse and repeat different scenarios like school dances and graduation night. Try questions like, “If your friends are drinking at the party, how will you handle it?”
    4. Be clear about expectations. Remember your teen needs boundaries and rules
    5. Discuss Why Not. Be honest and share the facts about alcohol, and be open to discussion and questions.
    6. Discuss laws about underage drinking, including the age 21 law.
    7. Remain open. Friends and life situations are going to change. Make sure your teen knows you are available to talk w/o judgment.
    8. Keep your emotions in check. Chances are you are going to hear something you don’t like. Try and keep your cool. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
    9. Choose a neutral location. Kids often feel more open to discussing “tough” topics when you both are engaged in other activities; cooking together, watching a show together or spending time together outdoors.
    10. Empower them. The more decisions you allow them to make for themselves, the better choices they are likely to make in the real world.

Remember when they ask you about why you enjoy drinking your favorite wine or craft beer, ask them to point out the differences between you and them. Important differences such as height, weight, etc. and internal organs that are fully developed. Remind them how their taste and likes/dislikes change over time as their body matures. Matures, being the driving word!

Happy Parenting & DriveBetter!

Helping Your Teen Know Their Vehicle

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Helping Your Teen Know their Vehicle

Congratulations your teen has passed their driving course. You might be feeling excited, nervous…scared — or a jumbled feeling of all three. Don’t worry, this is totally normal. In addition to you accompanying your teen on the road as they hone their skills, help your new driver become familiar with his/her car:

  • Pumping gas

What type of fuel to select at the pump
Where the gas cap is located
How/where to pay
Safe practices at the pump
Setting a good rule of thumb on when to refuel

  • Keeping track of maintenance schedules

Discuss vehicle stats like the make, model and where the VIN is located
Have him/her read (at least skim) the vehicle’s owner manual
Discuss the type of oil the vehicle uses
Mileage and preferred location for an oil change
How to check the vehicle oil level
Adding windshield washer fluid
Discuss or share relevant smartphone app

  • Learning how to check tire pressure and adding air when needed

Where on the vehicle the recommended tire pressure and tire size is located
How to check the pressure
How to inflate tires to the recommended tire pressure

  • Jump-starting the car

Location of jumper cables – the use of jumper cables is not for a vehicle that has an electronic ignition system or an alternatively fueled vehicle
Where the vehicle’s battery is located and how to access it
Practice where to place the cables and safety guidelines

  • Knowing where the jack, lug wrench, and spare tire are and how to use them

Recommend a local tire dealer or service garage for assistance
The size and location of the spare tire and how to remove it
Discuss a safe place to pull off the road and where the hazard lights are located

Why this is so helpful

Educating your teen about their car means they hopefully won’t be that person who runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere because he/she drove around with a nearly-empty tank, the one whose tire blew out because he/she forgot to check the pressure, or ignored vehicle warning lights.

Expert Picks – The Safest Vehicles for Your Dollar

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Expert Picks – Safe and Affordable Vehicles for Your Teen

With 2017 knocking on your door comes the feeling of a new, fresh year.

Perhaps buying your Teen a vehicle is part of your New Year plan?

Cars and trucks come with many new or improved safety systems to help drivers avoid a crash.

Newer safety features include:

  1. Closing in on a car too quicklyForward-collision warning, with or without an auto brake, is on top of many car shoppers wish list.
  2. Changing lanes into an unseen car Blind-spot warning and rear cross traffic alert are available and a real eye-opener. This is a top rated safety feature by folks at Consumer Report.
  3. Backing out – Whether it be your driveway or the grocery parking spot. Backup cameras are more common on newer vehicles. Backup cameras could become standard on all 2018 vehicles.
  4. Driving distractedLane departure warning alerts you when your vehicle’s wanders out of your lane, helps keep you straight!

While all these safety features are incredible and extremely beneficial, the reality for most parents is buying an additional car is a financial decision. Buying a new model year or even a one or two-year-old vehicle might not be in the budget. With this reality in mind, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of budget-friendly used vehicles with critical safety features for your new teen driver.

IIHS’s picks are broken out into two categories:

Best Choices: Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $20,000
Good Choices: Recommended used vehicles for teens starting under $10,000

Furthermore, the IIHS’s recommends purchasing a vehicle for your teen be based on four main principles:

  1. Steer clear of high horsepower vehicles.
  2. Bigger, heavier vehicles may provide better protection in a crash.
  3. Consider Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This feature helps maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads.
  4. Your vehicle should have the best safety ratings possible.

Note: There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list. Small SUVs are included because their weight is similar to that of a midsize car.

IIHS recommends at a minimum your vehicle also include:

  1. Good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test
  2. Acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test
  3. Four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The list and recommendations are a guide to help you buy a vehicle with both safety and affordability in mind for your teen / high-school / college driver, whatever your budget.

Happy Shopping!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Top Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Top Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

Winter arrived early for a lot of folks in the U.S. even though the “first” day isn’t technically until December 21, 2016. As temperatures continue to drop it is important to have your vehicle ready for your everyday commute and before you embark on any road-travel plans.

Top Tips:

  1. Prioritize any scheduled, routine maintenance/tune-up for your vehicle.
  2. Check the battery or ask to have the battery checked by your mechanic. Replacing the battery or making system repairs, including simple things like tightening the battery cable connections is important this time of year.
  3. Check your windshield wipers (especially the driver side), wiper fluid and defroster for all perfect working order.
  4. Inspect your tire pressure and age of your tires. Properly inflated tires save lives! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-inflated tires are the leading cause of tire failure, which accounts for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year. Your vehicle manufacturer posts the recommended tire pressure on your vehicle either near the driver’s door jam, on the glove compartment door or in the owner’s manual. It is recommended that you do not inflate tires to the maximum pressure molded onto the tire’s sidewall.
    Should you need to purchase new tires either due to wear or age, NHSTA recommends checking out www.safercar.gov for tire ratings. You’ll need to ensure the tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. It is also important to have a spare tire, ideally a full-size spare.
  5. Keep a car safety kit in your vehicle that includes some cold weather supplies such as; jumper cables, gloves, flare, water, blanket, extra vehicle fluids, working flashlight, basic tools, cell phone charger and an extra set of winter clothing.

How Does a Graduated License Work?

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How Does a Graduated License Work?

According to the Governors Highway Association report in December 2016, Novice drivers have higher crash rates. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs allow young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges.

Most GDL programs include three stages:

Learner Stage: Supervised driving, cumulating with a driving test
Intermediate Stage: Limiting unsupervised driving in high-risk situations
Full Privilege Stage: A standard driver’s license

GDL driving restrictions for novice drivers vary from state to state, the three below are the most common:

  1. Cell Phones/Texting: 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. (See GHSA’s Cell Phone laws page for more information.)
  2. Nighttime Driving Restriction: 48 states and D.C. restrict nighttime driving during the intermediate stage.
  3. Passenger Restriction: 46 states and D.C. restrict the number of passengers during the intermediate stage.

Curious about the GDL Laws in Your State?

Click here to find out your own State’s GDL laws. You can also check out your licensing agency’s Web site for the driver manual your teen can read and a parent guide to supervised driving.

Most States require parents to certify their teen has completed the required amount of supervised driving practice – ranging anywhere from 30 to 50 hours – before your new driver can qualify for their intermediate license. Some States also require a 6 to 12-month waiting period.

A very simplistic Teen, Parent driving log is available here for download. More examples are available here.

A Parent’s engagement and oversight are crucial in enforcing their teen follow the GDL laws. Set driving ground rules with your teen and explain the consequences for breaking them; then get it in writing and, most importantly, enforce the rules.

Available for download is a sample parent/teen driving contract. Additional examples are available here.

December 2016 Proposed GDL Updates

In a report released December 1, 2016, by the National Safety Council (NSC) and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) both organizations are calling for a three-step, multi-year licensing system that applies to all new drivers younger than 21 (rather than the current law that only applies to drivers age 18 or younger).

Recommended requirements would include:

  1. A mandatory in-vehicle technology to track practice hours
  2. A full-year ban on carrying passengers and driving at night
  3. Decals to aid identification
  4. On-going driver’s education classes
  5. Parents would also be required to spend at least 50 hours supervising their teens driving

Defensive Driving Tips to Avoid Hitting a Deer

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It’s Deer Season!

The past 2 years of heavy rainfall in many parts of the U.S. have led to an increase in the deer population making it more likely for auto/deer collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. We have compiled a list of tips to get you over the hill and through the woods to grandma’s house safely this holiday season!

Defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:

  • The highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions are from sunset to midnight and the hours around sunrise.
  • Remember Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others are typically nearby.
  • Drive vigilant when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population such as agricultural and forestland.
  • Scan both sides of the road! Some evidence shows that drivers tend to watch the side of the road next to the passenger seat more than their own side, making a false assumption that only one side is a problem.
  • Drive in the center lane if you are traveling on a 3 lane road, or center the car as much as possible if it is a 2 lane road.
  • When driving at night, be sure to use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic.
  • Brake firmly, blow your horn solidly and put on your hazard lights when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their car.
  • Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers buckle up too. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
  • If you hit a deer, don’t touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. Best practice is to get your car off the road, if possible, and call the police.

5 Tips For Driving Safely In The Rain

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Wet Roads = More Accidents

Wet roads contribute to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year, making rain events the most hazardous weather conditions for drivers according to AAA Exchange and U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (USDOTFHWA).

5 Simple Tips For Driving Safely In The Rain

Slow Down

Aim for at least 15 mph below the posted speed. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway. When your tires are not touching the road, bad things can happen!

Maintain a Safe Distance

Vehicle stopping distance is doubled in the rain. Increase your following distance. If it’s raining and you are driving at night, you should aim to be 6 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.

Avoid Heavy Breaking

This is a good safe driving technique regardless, but in the rain it is crucial. Braking late can cause skidding, hydroplaning, and potential accidents. Slow your vehicle by taking your foot off the accelerator earlier than you typically would.

Headlights On

Turn your headlights on even in a light rain or in gloomy, foggy or overcast conditions. Not only do they help you see the road, but they’ll help other drivers see you. If your car has daytime running lights you still should put them on, so vehicles behind you can see you better.

Good Working Windshield Wipers

Check the quality of your wipers before the rainy season. Seeing can be very useful while driving!

5 tips for driving in the rain from DriveBetter.com

DriveBetter monitoring driving habits and promotes safe driving for the whole family!

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New Driver Checklist for Parents and Teens

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The time has arrived – your teen is learning to drive!
This will not doubt be a memorable experience for both of you. We have put together a helpful checklist to help parents prepare for the road ahead!
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for teenagers because they lack the necessary driving experience. Many states have implemented a Graduated Driver Licensing program that introduces teenagers to driving in phases to help them gradually – and safely – build their skills and experience behind the wheel. Check to see if your state has implemented the Graduated Drivers License law. This program allows your teen becomes more prepared to handle adverse conditions as they gain driving experience and driving maturity.
Like it or not, Parents are the role model and coach, for your teen driver. They watch what you do and will look to you for your guidance and expertise. Some important aspects of your job include:

  • Knowing and enforcing the driving laws.
  • Knowing the stages of your state licensing laws. (A Graduated Licensing program includes three phases: Learner’s License, Intermediate License, and Full Privilege License.)
  • Enroll your teen in a Driver’s Education course.
  • Always supervise your new teen’s driving.
  • It is critical that parents enforce and certify their teen have completed at least 50 hours of supervised driving.
  • Set family driving rules and limits and impose consequences for violations. A great parent resource is a parent-teen driving contract.
  • Talk with other parents about teen driving and safety.
  • Choose a safe vehicle for your teen.
  • include safer driving smartphone apps to help both you and teen see areas of improvement.

These are just a few points parents can use to help teach your teen to be a safe and confident driver. Please help encourage your teen to be a safer driver.

Parents are key to a safer teen driver

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The ninth annual National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW for short) 2016 kicks off Monday, October 16 and runs through Sunday, October 22, 2016. This full week is designated by Congress each year to raise awareness of teen driver safety topics and to encourage safe teen driver and passenger behavior.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year-olds in the United States. A recent study released by AAA and reported by CBS This Morning.

“The number of teenagers involved in deadly car crashes is rising for the first time in nearly a decade. New data from federal regulators reveal a 10-percent increase last year in teen driving deaths. Teens are more than one-and-a-half times more likely than adults to be involved in a deadly crash.”

Scare tactics and using tracking-type devices alone aren’t the answer. Research shows that teens understand they are vulnerable and are well aware of many risks. Instead of battling with your teen, focus on positive actions your new teen driver can take to drive safe and the importance of keeping their passengers safe can be a more powerful message for teens.

During NTDSW, we are asking parents, grandparents and/or loved ones to take action to help prevent teen driver crashes and promote safer driving habits – learn how you can make a difference today with DriveBetter.