Adventures in Teen Driving: Farewell

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Adventures in Teen Driving #26: Farewell
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Jul 22 2016 / By Kathy Bernstein Harris

Adventures in Teen Driving: Farewell

I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. Declan has had his license for about a year now and thankfully, neither he nor the car are any worse for wear.

Well, that’s not entirely true…the car has the permanent stench of hockey gear – but everyone in my family is used to the smell!

Has my life become easier since Declan has been driving by himself? I would have to say yes, for the most part. I’m not running nearly as much as I once was. He can get himself to school, hockey and as of this summer, work.

Am I completely carefree? No. I have Mairead to chauffer around. Dan and I still aren’t completely comfortable with the both kids together in the car, so because Dan works afternoons and evenings, it falls to me to get her from point A to point B. It’s okay—it’s safer for everyone.

Over the course of the past year, Declan’s curfew has progressively moved later as he’s improved his night driving skills. At this point, he’s following the GDL laws in Illinois: 10pm weekdays and 11pm weekends. Honestly, he rarely drives on weekends because he’d rather stay out until midnight; our household rule—when he’s not driving. The ride-share business is making a fortune off me, but again, it’s safer for everyone.

Declan is now legally allowed to drive as many passengers as he wants (as long as there is a seatbelt for every passenger), but as hinted, Dan and I haven’t turned him completely loose. We still limit the number of buddies he has in the car. We know our son and we know he can be easily distracted by friends—one or two is plenty.

It’s been a fun year, watching Declan grow and mature. Getting a driver’s license seems to have helped push him along. He’s now working his first job; it’s at a paint store. He can tell you what paint you need for the job and what grade of sand paper you should use to prep surfaces. He’s even mixing the 5 gallon buckets of some kind of fancy paint—he tells me it costs over $200 (who knew?!). Most importantly, he’s a good reliable employee. He has a sense of pride in being able to cover his costs and buy his own gas. I’d like to think that some part of that grew out of our coaching. Being a responsible driver laid the foundation for being a responsible young adult.

Dan and I are proud of Declan and as his first year of driving of comes to a close, it’s time to turn the page on “Adventures in Teen Driving”. He’s a senior now and I don’t think he wants to endure another year of his buddies reading stories about his driving antics, so we’ll let him off the hook.

I’m also turning the page as well. After five years as the Senior Manager of the Teen Driving initiative at the National Safety Council, I’m happy to announce my new role at NSC: Senior Manager of Volunteer & Award Programs. It’s a new and exciting job and though I’m ready for it’s challenges, teen driving safety will always be close to my heart.

And I’m leaving you in good hands. Before I go, I’m proud to announce the new DriveitHOME. You’re reading this blog on it right now, so when you’re done, feel free to browse around and kick the tires. It’s the same great content, but we’ve made it easier to navigate and use. We’ve also added a few new pages to help improve your coaching game: the risks of drowsy driving, information about vehicle safety technology and, probably our most requested feature, a guide to teen monitoring technology. From apps to hardware to vehicles with built-in teen safety features, we’ve go a great overview so you can make the best decision for your family.

Thank you so much to all the loyal readers—I hope my journey has helped make your easier, funnier, less intimidating…hopefully all three. I’ve really enjoyed it and hope you have, too. And don’t worry—I’m not gone for good. In fact, Mairead starts driver’s ed this week. She’ll have her permit soon.

I can only imagine how this is going to go… I promise I’ll be back to share.


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