I remember when I received my first speeding ticket. I was driving back to university with a friend after a visit home for Thanksgiving. I only had a learner’s permit at the time and was required to have a fully licensed driver in the front passenger seat. I did, but he was napping. The officer who pulled me over gave us both a piece of his mind – and rightly so – me for speeding and the friend for not paying attention to my driving.
The biggest thing I remember about getting the ticket was how surprised I was that I was actually speeding. Everything about driving felt new – so I didn’t know how fast 80 km or 100 km “feels”. As I’m sure anyone with 20+ years driving experience can attest, you know when you’re speeding. But as a new driver, I just didn’t have the miles under my belt.
So many things about driving come with experience. That’s why we need to pay extra attention to new drivers and make sure they have the support they need. Parachute, a national Canadian charity dedicated to injury prevention, holds an annual campaign to build awareness of teen driver safety issues.
The theme for their 2020 campaign, October 18 to 24, is #SpeedIsNoGame. Road crashes are the second-leading cause of death among young people in Canada. Young people are killed in crashes at a higher rate than any other age group under 80 years old.
If you have a teen in your life, be sure and talk with them about speeding and other causes of distracted driving like phones, drinking and cannabis use. The RCMP has compiled a great list of tips to share with your teen to help reduce distracted driving (though they’re good tips for all of us to remember!), including:
- Plan your route ahead of time.
- Put your cellphone away.
- Notify your passengers.
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving.
- Keep music or radio at a reasonable volume.
- Keep personal grooming for the home.
They also have made a number of other resources available for starting productive conversations with teens about distracted driving, including lesson plans for grade 11 and 12 students.
MADD Canada shares ideas and strategies about how to have the tough conversations with your teen about driving, alcohol and drugs:
Let teens know that their safety comes first, especially when you tackle the more difficult issues around drinking and marijuana. Let them know they can depend on you to help them if they feel concerned about their own or a friend’s safety.
Set an example by being responsible about your own use of alcohol and other drugs. If you choose to drink, refer to Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and discuss how you use the guidelines to manage your own drinking.
Recognize that experimentation and mistakes happen. By understanding that a teen’s brain – especially the areas in charge of impulse control – is still developing, you’ll be able to better understand why your teen may place themselves in risky situations. Help your teen to reflect on a mistake to make it into a learning opportunity, but be sure to wait until you’re both calm and ready to discuss a problem rationally
Learn about all 10 of MADD Canada’s strategies in their Parent Action Pack for helping teens make good decisions about drugs, alcohol and driving.
How do you talk to your kids about distracted or impaired driving? Share your stories in the comments.