ATLANTA - It's almost Labor Day, which means we're nearing the end of summer and the "100 Deadliest Days" for teen drivers, which began on Memorial Day.
For parents, handing over the keys to a teen driver can be scary and stressful. Tim Hollister is an author from Connecticut. Tim lost his 17-year-old son, Reid, in a wreck nearly 12 years ago. He's spent that time turning his tragedy into tougher driving laws and now Tim hopes to share his knowledge with both parents and teens in his book, "Not So Fast."
Reid Hollister, 17, was your typical teenager. "To his friends, he was always the life of the party, happy go lucky, a very handsome young man, which I can say because we adopted him. He didn't get his good looks from me obviously," says Reid's father, Tim Hollister.
In 2006, a crash took Reid's life. Tim has spent the last 12 years advocating for tougher driving laws and penning the safety blog "From Reid's Dad." "I can count that as something positive that resulted in Reid's death, but on the other hand, I miss him every day," Tim says.
Now, Tim has worked with other national safety advocates to write his 2nd edition book, "Not So Fast." The book is designed to help other parents and he says rule number one when it comes to handing the keys over to a teen driver is to be a parent.
"I advocate as a mindset for parents to be like an air traffic controller, not a friend, but someone in charge of the situation," Tim says.
"Not So Fast" outlines Tim's five biggest dangers when it comes to teen driving, and it encourages parents to have daily conversations with their teens about them. "P.A.C.T.S.: passengers, alcohol and drugs, curfews--meaning night driving, texting, and electronic devices and seatbelts," Tim outlines. "This is not a one-time conversation when they get their license, it's a daily conversation because you're checking the safety tips every single time your teen gets behind the wheel."
One of Tim's biggest piece of advice is to always focus on safety, and not let your teen become a shuttle driver around town. "Don't put your convenience ahead of the safety of your child. It's great now that you have older brother or sister able to drive the younger sibling but if you think about it, younger siblings may be the worst imaginable, the most distracting passengers in the car and the phrase that I like is, don't entrust your most precious cargo to your least experienced driver."
To help get everyone on the same page, Tim suggests coming up with a custom parent/teen driving agreement to set rules, consequences and rewards upfront. "A teen driving agreement is an opportunity for the parent and teen to sit down across the kitchen table and customize the rules," recommends Tim.
After 12 years of grief and healing, Tim hopes other parents take their responsibility maybe a little more seriously than he did 12 years ago. "When you get your license, I'm not going to make the assumption that you're safe. I'm going to make the assumption that we're both taking a big risk and we need to manage that day by day," he adds.
Tim says something else for parents to consider is that there's no such thing as a "safe teen driver." He says it doesn't matter if your teen is an honor student, and never been in trouble, research shows the human brain isn't fully developed until about age 22 to 25, and the last part to develop is the one that perceives risks and avoids danger.
Tim is partnering with Hum, a vehicle monitoring technology from Verizon. It plugs into the dashboard of a car and can send real-time information about your teen's driving to a parent's phone, like speed and location alerts. Hum can also detect vehicle diagnostics, maintenance reminders, and emergency roadside assistance. It's a piece of technology Tim recommends.
The proceeds of "Not So Fast" go toward helping infant and childhood education. For more parent and teen tips, and for more on where to purchase Tim's book, you can visit fromreidsdad.org. For more on Hum, you can visit hum.com.