Do you remember what you felt like the day you got your driver’s license? Close your eyes and think back to that teenage milestone…the thrill, the exhilaration...the intoxication of youth and invincibility combined with - FINALLY - freedom…
Now fast forward and imagine you are the parent of a seventeen year old driver. Eight days ago, you handed over a set of car keys and most of your “control”… Now you are waiting… The subconscious fear you steadfastly refused to name or acknowledge has broken free and you are slowly succumbing to the weight of the possibilities…
The panicked call came not long ago and you’ve made it to where you need to be but now you’re in the hellish position of wanting to know and scared to the point of paralysis of finding anything out…
A trauma surgeon enters the room, locks eyes with you and says the unthinkable: “I’m very sorry, but…”
Open your eyes…I don’t have to imagine, because it happened to me. I AM that parent. On June 12, 2008, our seventeen year old son Brian was involved in a three-car motor vehicle accident in the Pineville area of Charlotte; he survived for two hours before ultimately passing away due to his injuries.
Brian did a lot of things right: he was wearing his seatbelt; he wasn’t speeding; he wasn’t drinking; he was alone; and he wasn’t texting…
Nevertheless, he was distracted from the important task of driving by trying to make a phone call.
I cannot tell you how our heartache has been compounded knowing he lost his life over the press of a button…
On October 19th, I was thrilled to participate in the NC Governor’s Highway Safety press conference; I shared Brian’s Story as part of the “5 to Drive” campaign kickoff in honor of National Teen Driver Safety week, which was October 18-24, 2015.
The ‘5 to Drive’ premise is quite simple:
No cell phone use or texting while driving;
No extra passengers;
No alcohol; and
No driving or riding without a seat belt.
As I made the four hour return drive from Raleigh, I had plenty of time to think…
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in our country.
In light of this fact, I have to wonder…at what point in time did we PARENTS forget that we are our children’s first driver education instructors?
From the moment they are born, they watch us and learn from what they see us do.
How many of us are guilty of the behaviors outlined in the ‘5 to Drive’ list? A quick text at the traffic light or phone call while rolling down the interstate? Tacking an extra 5 to 7 mph onto the speed limit? Having a glass (or two) of wine during dinner at a restaurant before driving the family home? Failing to buckle up because it’s only a couple of blocks? Cramming one more person into the back seat instead of taking two cars?
We tend to become complacent / overly confident / arrogant when we successfully get away with something without incurring negative consequences. One time…a hundred times…a thousand times… But what if time number one thousand and one, your luck runs out?
Hopefully, you won’t end up like me…
Today I am challenging the moms (and dads, grandparents, etc.-basically everyone who drives/rides in motor vehicles) of MomsCharlotte: starting now, implement the ‘5 to Drive’ rules and make them your family’s new normal. Help me facilitate change with our children through your willingness to change your behavior. Please be the role model we weren’t for Brian….
If you accept this challenge, let us know & share the message! #rememberbrian #MomsCharlotte #safeteendriver #safeparentdriver #5todrive @Briansmom061208