The Dangers of Teens Behind the Wheel

Are you familiar with the “disease” that is the leading killer of teenagers, claiming the lives of 2,400 each year? What’s more is that this “disease” could easily be prevented through inexpensive behavior changes.

The truth is, no such “disease” exists: motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage deaths – not any disease.1,2 In 2012, 2,439 teen drivers and passengers died in motor vehicle crashes.3 In half of these fatal crashes, the teen wasn’t using a seat belt, and this proportion has been relatively unchanged over the last decade. In both fatal and nonfatal crashes, a greater percentage of passengers are unrestrained than drivers.4

SERIOUSLY how freaking hard is it to take 5 seconds to buckle up?!?!

The top reason teens gave for not buckling up is that they “forgot”, or that it just wasn’t a habit.  Note to Parents: These habits start young! Teens who aren’t using seat belts have indicated that they do not  see their parents use a seat belt when they drive. So parents: In order to help your teen stay safe on the road, set a good example!! Of course, not using a seat belt is only part of the issue. Teens who don’t use seat belts are almost more likely to admit that they text while driving than those who do wear seat belts — a problem that we all know is much too common. Of teens who don’t use  a seat belt admit to 73% texting while driving —  compared to 52% for those who do wear their seat belt. Granted, the goal is to have 0% of drivers texting and driving, but the point is that danger has been compounded by not wearing a seat belt with the greater likelihood of texting while driving.  Keeping teens safe in cars starts long before they are ready to drive or ride with friends. By following these tips, we can make sure that teens are making safe decisions when riding as passengers today and drivers tomorrow:

  • Make using a seat belt for every ride a habit, starting when kids are young.
  • Be a safety role model by observing speed limits, putting phones away while driving, and following the rules of the road.
  • Talk to teens and kids about ways to speak up if a driver of any age isn’t driving safely

Teens in Cars (SafeKids) Infographic courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide

If you live in Indiana and would like to discuss your insurance with me Click Here. 

 

Related articles:

Sources:
1. CDC Leading Causes of Death for Ages 13-19 in 2010
2. NHTSA 2010 Fatality Analysis (Ages 13-19)
3. NHTSA 2012 Fatality Analysis (Ages 13-19)
4. NHTSA 2003-2012 Fatality Analysis by Restraint Use (Ages 13-19)

U Think Ur Good @ Texting & Driving? Ur Not. U Suck @ it!

I’m not going to lie & say I’ve never done it — ashamedly, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve done it — but once is already WAY too many times.

Alexander Heit's last text

A grim reminder of the harsh consequences of texting while driving.

I’ve declared myself to be one selfish SOB. Not just selfish, but also very lucky — there is NO reason whatsoever why I shouldn’t be a statistic labeled in news headline as that selfish bastard who just could not wait until I wasn’t driving to read a text. I cringe to even admit that I’m guilty of responding to a few as well.I’ve been luckier than any lottery winner in history: I’ve performed these selfish actions without murdering anyone, or having caused irreversible damage to anyone — or myself for that matter.

But that’s ALL it was — Luck — nothing more

Having put the lives of others in danger unnecessarily makes me ashamed: I’m ashamed as a human being, as an insurance professional and as an passionate safety advocate. I’ve been a freaking hypocrite — and if you know me at all you know that I LOATHE hypocrites, just about as much as I hate admitting that I am one. I am now passionate about putting that damned cell phone down.  For crapsake, I live in Lafayette, it’s not like I have far to drive —what the hell is so damned important that I’ve felt couldn’t wait for 15 freaking minutes?!?To my friends and family — go ahead and call me a nerd — I really could care less. But I do care about your safety and mine, which is why I’m BEGGING you to do the same. Up to this point you have only been sharing the same teeny tiny pot of luck I’ve been scraping out of — and trust me — it’s running on “E”.

To think that you have mastered the skill of texting and driving is the most pathetic mind trick.
Trust me: You REALLY suck at it.

It’s time to PUT THE PHONE DOWN! It’s that one text that can change everything. Hindsight is always 20/20 — so have some foresight and think about it. Do you think you could drive the length of a football field blindfolded without incident? Well if that’s something that you think you’d be uncomfortable with know that is EXACTLY what you are doing when you take your eyes off the road to read or send a text.  

If you want to roll your eyes & think “Well there goes Melissa again on one of her crazed nerdy save the world tangents” just know: When your luck runs out, I’ll come hold your hand in jail & pray for you & with you, but I also promise to leave you there…unless of course it is me or one of my family members, in which case I’m sorry, but that offer is off the table.

Related articles:

If you live in Indiana and would like to discuss your insurance with me Click Here. 

Photo courtesy of  Greeley, Colorado Police Department

Cyberbullying: The Scourge of the Internet

Facebook and other Social Media sites have become the new schoolyard for bullies — moving from the playground to the web — where they have 24 hour access to their victims.

Those Rumors You Spread About Me Made My Dog CryThe explosive growth of social media has enabled a lot of new opportunities for kids and teenagers that did not exist for many of us while growing up. But the proliferation of social networking has also come with a disgusting downside —Cyberbullying.

Conversations once held in the schoolyard have evolved to take place on Facebook, allowing for bullying and nastiness to become easier in the 24/7 world of social media, causing victims often feel that they have nowhere to hide –not even from the safety of their own home! Nearly 69% of kids ages 13 to 22 have experienced some for of cyberbullying, 20% of which saying what they experienced was “very extreme”.1 

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that most cyberbullying cases don’t make it to a criminal level –some bullying victims are tired of hiding in the depths of darkness and despair, which can lead to a tragic results such as suicide –or Bullycide. The mere fact that this is such a phenomenon that a portmanteau word has been created to define this tragedy is absolutely appalling.

Even more shocking, it was found that 75% of parents said that they do not have the time or energy to keep up with their kids’ online activities, 62% think their kids can’t get in trouble online and only 17% were said to believe that the online world posed similar dangers as the offline world.1 How in the world are parents supposed to protect their children from cyberbullies while remaining in the dark about who their kids are interacting with online, and how they are interacting with those people?!?

While sometimes it’s difficult to reach out and get our children to share about their lives, both on and offline, it’s imperative to educate our younger generation about online safety. There are a number of steps that parents can take to start the conversation, initiate precautionary measures, and respond in times of crises. First and most important though is to have that conversation and open the lines of communication for children to speak up offline about what they may be seeing online.

  • Talk about the news. Sometimes, it helps to have a real life incident to help you start the conversation and see how your child is feeling about the subject, what they think about it, and perhaps Internet safety in general. By both exposing them to the fact that many people deal with this issue, and opening that dialogue, it can help create a doorway to talk should something happen to your child or a friend.
  • Limit time spent with online devices. Whether your child is using the home desktop, a laptop, tablet or smartphone to access the Internet and/or social networking sites, give hard-stop time limits to their usage. Setting boundaries for social media interactions, and time limits for web activities is a good rule of thumb in general for kids. Some wireless providers will also allow you to block text messaging during certain hours.
  • Use filters and parental controls. Without the proper protection and filtering in place, you could be letting the world into your home through your computer monitor. Set up comprehensive protection for all of your family’s devices —computers and mobile—including safe web searching, risky site alerts, identity protection, time limitations and other parental controls.
  • Educate children on appropriate behaviors. Kids need to know that just because you can share something, it doesn’t mean that you should. A moment of poor judgment when it comes to online sharing can haunt you for the rest of your life. Help kids understand what type of content is and is not appropriate to share online and how to setup privacy controls for the information they post to social media sites.
  • Report inappropriate interactions. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the majority of social media sites have systems for blocking and reporting users who are being abusive or inappropriate. These can help keep your child safe, as well as make sure the user behind abusive accounts is held responsible. Visit the help section of each social media site for instructions on how to block or report a user.
  • If targeted, make sure your kids don’t retaliate. Cyberbullying incidents can often get worse if the exchange becomes more involved back and forth. While you don’t need to respond online, there are other ways to fight back. Assist your child in saving and documenting incidents to report to the police or school officials, if applicable. Keeping record is the best thing you can do when making a case against a bully.

Cyberbullying Infographic
Infographic courtesy of McAfee© Blog Central

If you live in Indiana and would like to discuss your insurance with me Click Here. 

Related articles:

Sources:
1. Lynn News Cyberbulling Survey
2. Cyberbullying: Words do Hurt When it Comes to Social Media
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ ThatsNotCool.Com

Be More Than a Bystander – Stop Bullying!

End Bullying NowThere has been a lot of attention paid recently to bullying — as there SHOULD be!

Anybody who knows me is aware that bullying is something I simply have no tolerance for.  It is freaking relentless. Recently in my neighborhood I had the displeasure of observing a middle-school-aged girl being trailed by two boys who were “oinking” and shouting cruelties at her. This girl graciously continued walking, never turning back to defend herself, or stooping to their level of exchanging cruel words.

To my husband’s embarrassment, I stormed out of our house to approach these boys and give them a firm lecture. (Hopefully I wasn’t being a hypocritical bully myself!) While I wasn’t cruel to these boys, I was very firm in letting them know that their behavior was the furthest thing from being “cool.” I let them know that while the bullies I grew up with may have been perceived as somewhat “popular” at the time, there isn’t a single one of them that I am aware of that became successful adults  — or moved out of their parents’ home for that matter. I let these boys know that what they were doing to this girl not only had a negative impact on her  — possibly for the rest of her life  — but that they were also hurting themselves by risking their chance at having a successful future.  Granted, I know my statements were blunt and were not facts that I can cite, but I do believe I got through to them hard and clear. They didn’t argue back, and they ultimately apologized to me.  I told them I am not the one that deserves the apology, but rather the girl they were yelling at  — along with anyone else who they may have treated similarly  — and simply requested that they learn from this, and not only stop bullying, but learn to stand up to it.

No one should have to put up with bullying — this is crap that we need to put an end to now!

StopBullying.gov has created their first infographic that shows the alarming statistics about bullying, and what you need to know about preventing it and how to take action. 

StopBullying.gov Infographic

View the full infographic here

StopBullying.gov Widget Logo

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net