It’s time to have THAT talk with your teen – summer driving safety reminders

Do you remember your first speeding ticket? I do.

I was 16 and it was April 1. That’s right. April Fools’ Day. But the only fool that day was me. I was definitely speeding and I was busted.

The worst part was telling my dad. I got home later that night and told my mom. She was the easy one, and I was praying she was going to tell Dad for me. But I didn’t get so lucky. Instead, she walked me down to Dad’s office and waited while I fumbled with the words that didn’t want to come out of my mouth.

When they finally stumbled out, Dad laughed. He laughed. Loudly.

He didn’t get red in the face. He didn’t get mad. He didn’t yell. He laughed.

I don’t remember much about what happened next. I’m pretty sure I was in shock. I think Dad said something about me coming by it naturally (he had gotten a few speeding tickets in his day), followed up with the fact that I would be paying for it myself, out of my own money. Then he asked the particulars – how fast, where we were, who the officer was, etc.

(To add insult to injury, not only did I get my first speeding ticket on April Fools’ Day, the officer turned out to be a guy my parents knew.)

I got lucky that day. All I got was a ticket, the misery of admitting to my parents what I’d done and the task of paying a fine. But, according to, speed is a major contributor to fatal teen accidents. My foolishness could have had a far worse result.

With the onset of summer, more teen drivers will be taking to the road. Whether they are driving to a summer job or off to enjoy some fun in the sun with their friends, now is a good time to review safe driving tips with your teen.

If you don’t know where to start, here are four tips that should pave the way to a productive conversation about safe driving practices for both you and your teen.

  1. Obey the speed limit. As mentioned above, speeding can have serious consequences. Plan ahead. Leave five minutes early. Arrive alive.
  2. Put the cell phone away. Keep it in the glove box or purse. Turn it off. Use a safe driving app that automatically alerts anyone calling or texting that you are currently driving and will get back to them when you have reached your destination.
  3. Keep distractions to a minimum. Friends, the radio, food … anything that takes your attention away from the safe operation of the vehicle increases the likelihood of having an accident.
  4. Turn on your headlights. Even if it’s daylight and you don’t feel like you need them, headlights can help others more easily see you.