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:

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

Don’t let Fido become a distraction – or a missile!

At just 30mph a 80-pound pet becomes a 2,400 pound projectile!

Although I consider myself to be a pretty passionate safety advocate against distracted driving, as well as having a huge heart for animals I have an embarrassing confession to make: Everytime I take my boys for a car ride I become a distracted driver, while also putting my four-legged kids in harm’s way. I’ve never really taken the time to think about the distraction that having Cheech & Diesel in the car brings. A survey of drivers who travel with their dogs showed 56% of pet owners have driven with their dog in a vehicle at least once a month over the past year. (Guilty)

Sixty-five percent of dog owners admit to engaging in at least one potentially distracting activity while driving with their dog:

  • 52% admit to petting their dog (Guilty)
  • 23% admit to using their hands/arms to keep their dog from seat hopping (Guilty)
  • 18% admit to reaching in the back seat to interact with their dog (Guilty)
  • 3% admit to taking a photo of their dog (Only guilty when my husband is driving, but I am sure that is just as distracting)

In addition to the driving distraction that Cheech & Diesel present as passengers in the car, they also pose another safety hazard — becoming a flying missile in the event of a sudden stop. At an abrupt stop Cheech & Diesel would keep moving at whatever speed the car was traveling.  In the event of a crash, even if I was only going 30 mph, Diesel’s 80 pound frame would exert about 2,400 pounds of force.There are some auto insurance policies that now offer coverage for pet injuries sustained as the result of an accident — however there is no coverage for the unbearable heartache one would endure in such a tragedy.

Tips for a safer trip:


  1. Large dogs (such as Diesel) should be restrained with harnesses linked to a car’s seat belt.  Smaller pets should ride in crates or a travel-safe dog bed.
  2. Dogs should never ride on the driver’s lap.
  3. Don’t let your dog stick their head out the window — even though they love it.  Dirt and debris can cause injury or infection.

NEVER leave an animal in a parked car, even if the windows are partially open. Even on pleasant days the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke and possibly death. Pets can very quickly suffer just like humans, from heat stroke or heat exhaustion. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk.

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


A Young Life Taken Too Early

Joe Teater
April 12, 1991 - January 19, 2004

Had it not been for a cell phone distracted driver, Joe Teater would be celebrating his 21st birthday today.  Instead of celebrating a joyous day, Joe’s parents will be visiting him at the cemetery, only able to imagine what their son would be like had he made it to this milestone.

Sadly, Joe is one of thousands who die each year at the hands of a distracted driver. Distracted driving is an absurd epidemic that only continues to get worse.  While the issue fortunately does receive national attention, it hasn’t been enough.

This month (April) is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is a perfect time for every motorist to take the pledge  to drive cell free while on the road so you are not responsible for the senseless death of another human being. No text is worth a life.

The Faces of Distracted Driving: Joe Teater, 12 | Hear the Stories. Get the Message Continue reading