Driving and Accidents

     Our Rules
     Your Goal
     My Accidents
     Washington Post Articles

Driving is the most dangerous activity you will ever do. Each year 43,000 people die in car accidents. That makes it even more dangerous than parachuting or mountain climbing, and motorcycling is the most dangerous way to drive. The most dangerous time to drive is your first few years of driving, that's why insurance costs so much for young drivers. I had most of my accidents when I was a teenager. In fact, flying is safer than driving. You can get a pilot's license for sailplanes at 14, but you have to wait until you are 16 for a driver's license. I learned to fly before I learned to drive.

In a teenager's life the most dangerous time is driving. More parents loose their children that way than any other accident. We love you too much, so we don't want to make it easy for you to loose your life. We don't want you to ride with anyone else either. The more teenagers in a car, the more likely it is to crash (2x for two and 4x for three or more!).

  • 60 percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol-related. Tips for Parents
  • Inexperience behind the wheel (i.e. first two or three years),
  • Driving fast,
  • Night,
  • Distractions - texting, cell phones,
  • Multiple passengers.

    These are the reasons insurance is so expensive for teenagers. They are the most likely to be involved in accidents.

    Remember, if you ever feel uncomfortable about driving, or riding with someone else, call me, and I will stop whatever I am doing and come pick you upAnd please don't ride with someone if there is another passenger.

    Here's a story about a police officer that lost his own child to a car crash. Proms, graduations and teen crashes: The worst season for a parent

    Teen deaths in car crashes climb,

    In this season of proms and graduation parties, teenagers unthinkingly put themselves at risk.

    “It takes only one second to loose your life.”

    I've never liked driving. I use a car to get somewhere more quickly than a bicycle or when I have to drive a long way or the weather is bad. A car is not an extension of your personality nor is it a way to impress the world with your wealth, style or taste, unless it's a a bright yellow 1978 Corvette :-)

    I never owned a car until I was 33. My bicycling accident in 1996 -- I bought Tzu-Ling's car and wrote her a check for it while I was in my hospital bed when she came back for graduation in May.

    Our Rules

    You can drive after you can afford a car, insurance, and gas. If Maryland offers a learners permit, for the first six months, you'll have to drive with an adult. For the six months following, you can drive alone, but no friends are allowed to be in the car with you. No driving at night. No cellphones. And you can only adjust the radio or temperature after you are stopped at a stoplight or stopsign. The reason for these rules is in the Washington Post articles below.

    Don't be in a hurry to get through a yellow light.

    Rush hour is aggravating, but usually safe. Not much damage occurs going five miles an hour

    Your Goal

    The most dangerous time of your teenage years will be when you learn to drive and when you ride with, or drive with, your friends. Driving is especially dangerous if you are sleepy or if you've had any alcohol.

    I have one goal when I drive: to get there and back safely. I tell myself that when I start the car and try to repeat it whenever I become impatient and want other cars to get out of my way. Focus on driving, not your friends, not your radio, not your exams, etc. Be extra careful at intersections, stop signs, and when lights turn green. Remember the few seconds you try to save when running a yellow light may be the last seconds of your life.

    Always think, when you first get into the car, that you might have an accident today. Worry about other drivers and try to imagine, as you are driving, what they might do -- In other words, be aware, have a sixth sense, of where other cars are around you at all times. Then you will know if you can swerve without hitting someone.

    Checklist for Teen Drivers

    Take the advice of Ryan Buckholtz. When he was a teen learning to drive, several of his classmates were involved in car accidents. So he created a website, www.teendriving.com, to help teens become better drivers. Some of the tips he offers include:
  • Always wear your seat belt, and make sure all your passengers buckle up, too.
  • Make sure your windshield is clean. At sunrise and sunset, light reflecting off a dirty windshield can momentarily blind you.
  • Never try to pack in more passengers than there are seatbelts in the car.
  • Make sure your car has gas. Don't ride around with the gauge on empty because you don't want to become stranded.
  • Obey all speed limits for both maximum and minimum speeds.
  • Come to a complete stop at lights or stop signs.
  • Use your turn signal to indicate that you want to turn or change lanes. Turn it on to give the cars behind you enough time to react before you make your move. Also, make sure the signal is off once you're done.
  • When a light turns green, make sure the intersection has cleared before you go.
  • Obey curfews and leave yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Don't blast the radio. You might miss a siren or a horn that could warn you of possible trouble.
  • Don't drink and drive, and don't ride with anyone who has been drinking. Call your parents or friends to pick you up if you need a ride.
  • Don't take drugs and drive, and don't ride with anyone who has been using drugs. Even some over-the-counter drugs can make you drowsy, so check the label for warnings.
  • Don't drive with small children or even small teenage friends in the front seat of a car that has a passenger-side air bag. They should be buckled up in the back seat instead. Children and small people can be hurt if the air bags deploy, even in collisions at slow speeds. (It's actually safer not to drive with friends and kids in the car when you're learning to drive because they can distract you.)
  • Don't talk on your cell phone, put on makeup, comb your hair, or eat while driving. If you need to make a call, pull off the road to a safe spot and park.
  • Always pull over (to the right side of the road) if a police officer stops you.
  • Don't allow friends or other uninsured drivers to drive your car.
  • If you feel tired or sleepy, pull off the road and call your parents or another adult to help you.
  • Don't drive like you own the road - drive like you own the car.

    Driving safely is crucial to learning the rules of the road. Just remember to be safe, use good judgment, and practice as much as you can. If you do, you'll enjoy driving even more because you'll know you're protecting yourself and your passengers. (Source: KidsHealth.org)

    My Accidents

    Let me tell you about my accidents:

    I used to enjoy driving with my best friend in the rain. The streets in Las Vegas don't drain the water well, so whenever it rains, a lot of water would be on the streets and parking lots, so we would go fast, slam on the brakes and fishtale over parking lots, and sometimes streets. I excused my behavior by saying I did it where there weren't any other cars around and could say I was learning how to control a car when it skidded - "Turn in the direction of the skid"

    But a year or two later I was driving on a straight dry road during daytime and something (I don't remember what) made me slam on the brakes. I went into a skid, overcorrected, then skidded and over-corrected again. This happened several more times until I finally skidded off the road and did a 180 and ended up in the dirt. Several cars went by and I feel very fortunate nothing bad happened because I was all over the road.

    My first accident was in a parking lot on a bright clear morning, by myself. Both cars were driving through the parking lot and because the lot was deserted we were paying no attention to the painted lines and we slammed into each other. His car was totaled, my car (actually my mom's car - I didn't own my own car until my bicycle accident when I was 33). Since it was a private parking lot at a mall, and neither of us was injured, and both of us were at fault, no one got any tickets.

    My worst accident was while I was making a right turn but for some reason I didn't see the other car coming and turned right without stopping and he hit me right behind the driver's seat.. I think he was speeding and could have avoided me, but I was supposed to have stopped and didn't so I got the ticket, I totaled my mom's car, my glasses were thrown off, I was in a daze, but was not hurt. I was driving with the same girl who was with me when I spun out.

    The most minor accident was when I backed out of a parking space and hit the supporting pillar next to me. The pillar was right beside me, but instead of pulling out straight, and then turning my wheel, I turned the wheel as I pulled out - the dent in my mom's car still remains almost 20 years later.

    Remember -- Focus on driving. Have only one thought -- imagine you might be in an accident today, and do everything you can to keep that from happening.

    June 17, 2006 - And then there was the accident going between the two sign posts at Executive Child Care Development Center. You were with me, remember?

    March 19, 2007 - Just had an accident today. I turned to wide and hit a curb at Beach and _____. The tire went flat instantly, but I wasn't sure so I drove out onto Rockville and pulled over. It was flat. Walked to Grosvenor apartemtns to cancel dentist appointment and called Helena. Walked back and pulled car to side up onto grass. Changed tire. Pulled out, car stuck went backward, onto road, then hit the side of the wheel I'd just changed. You can never be too careful backing up. The front of the car moves in ways you don't expect.

    Another accident - October 2007 - I was distracted with the CD player as we were coming to a stop. $600 for a little dent in her rear bumper. I gave her an extra $100 for the time it took her to get the estimate and the time off from her work

    Washington Post Articles

  • A most dangerous time
  • Make Driving Lessons a Family Affair
  • Driving Safely When the Snow Sticks