A teen drives down a street and encounters another driver close in age. They turn their heads and stare at each. Without speaking a word they agree to race. The light turns green, and both teens slam their feet on the gas pedals. Down the road there's loud screeching, followed by four or five thuds. One of the drivers has lost control of the car and has died in the crash.
This type of incident can happen in any city, including Aliso Viejo. Wednesday night, at Aliso Niguel High school, Podiatrist Dr. David Sabet and Sheriff's Deputy Eric Barnard gave a presentation on how parents can keep their teens safe behind the wheel.
“One of the leading causes of teen accidents is inexperience, distraction and speed,” said Sabet, whose daughter was killed in a car accident when she was 16. “Around 65 percent of teen drivers who are in fatal accidents are killed because of these three things.”
Sabet offered some advice:
- Wear a seat belt.
- Limit the number of teens in a car. Every teen in the car raises the fatality rate.
- Reduce distractions.
- Turn off cell phones.
Teens are also afraid of speaking up about bad driving and other dangerous situations—67 percent of them won’t, Sabet said.
“I’ve paid enough money for funerals,” Sabet said. “I’d rather spend money on college.”
Barnard told a story about how easily marijuana can be obtained by 18-year-olds.
“Back in 1996 when Prop. 215 was passed [legalizing medical marijuana] it made access to marijuana a whole lot easier,” he said. “Once, I pulled over a car that was going 35 miles per hour on the highway. I could tell that the kids inside were nervous. As soon as I stepped up to the car, it reeked of marijuana. The driver gave me his medical marijuana license and said he had a broken toe. He got out and walked just fine. The other passenger also had a card and said that he smoked it for pain. Then when I asked the passenger in the back why he had his card, he said he smoked it for anxiety. I called up the driver’s mother, and she had no idea that he had the card.”
The deputy gave the following tips to keep track of your teen's activities:
- Check your teen’s Facebook pages. There could be videos of them using drugs.
- Check your teen’s cell phone.
- If you have food that is a brand you've never heard of, throw it out.
- If your teen smells suspicious, there’s a good chance he is under the influence.
- Open a line of communication with your teen. Let him trust you.
One wrong decision can change the life of a teen and his parents. Take some time with your teen and ensure he buckles up and drives safely.