Safe teen driving

Surviving driving is a major theme at BHS Peer Leaders events. Brookline High School was the first venue to host the Promise to Adam campaign, a new effort promoting safe driving among teens. From 2010 onwards, peer leaders and community activists have gathered to generate ideas. Hundreds of Brookline students have signed pledges not to drive under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, to avoid speeding and common driving distractions, and to wear their seat-belts.

The BHS 1200 events on the Promise to Adam theme are organized with the assistance of the Peer Leaders. They have included vivid, moving presentations from Howard London and Barbara Spivak, Adam London’s parents, and Adam’s best friend. The presentations are followed by community forums on the issues associated with teen driving risk. These include

  • A culture of speeding and playing driving games
  • Distracted driving (e.g. switching tracks on iPods)
  • Overcrowded vehicles – a frequent side effect of the distance between BHS and its sports fields – which increases distractions and discourages seat belt use
  • Teens racing home to make curfew
  • Community tolerance of unsafe driving and an unwillingness to hold teens accountable
  • Mixed messages from parents, who may themselves get behind the wheel after having a drink or chat on their phones as they drive.

The discussions have generated many suggested solutions and approaches, including increased parent education around curfews, rule setting and role modeling, student education around distracted driving, and safer means of transport to the school fields. These will be the focus of ongoing safe driving efforts at BHS.

It Can Wait: Travis Tucker’s message to young drivers

Don’t be tempted by portable technology when you’re behind the wheel. That’s the message from American Idol-finalist and high school math teacher Travis Tucker, who tells teen drivers that a call or text can wait, and shows the deadly consequences of distracted driving.

Readings and viewings

Special issue on teen safety behind the wheel
B-CASA Winter 2011
Our newsletter on how our teens are driving, how to talk about it & how to handle accidents

What parents are modeling for our kids
New York Times
Parents’ delusion and why it matters

Game: measure your own reaction time
New York Times
Try the game to test your own reaction times

Tools for parents to keep teen drivers safe
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Lots of info including Graduated Driver Licensing as a solution

Crashproof your kids, driver contracts & other tools
Teen Driving
Varied resources for parents and teens

Training kit for parents of teen drivers
Partners for Safe Teen Driving
Comprehensive community health initiative

Q&A on teen driver safety
Parents, the Anti-Drug
An expert spells out how to handle it