Please Parents, I Beg You to Share This With Your Teen Drivers

My son asked if he could go out for a ride last week. He’d handed in all of his school work, cleaned his room like I requested and he held down a good job as well. In other words, he was a responsible kid so when he asked to go for a drive, I agreed.

car accident
My son had a car accident and we were lucky he and his friends weren’t hurt.

My son loved his car

My son loves his car and paid for it himself. He’s also footed the bill for insurance, registration, any repairs and his gas. There have been times I’ve been looking for him and he’s literally been staring at his beloved machine, arms crossed standing tall.

Something else about my son: he’s always been the cautious one. He’s never been someone who has no fear and just jumps into dangerous situations. He’s more of a play-it-safe-and-I’ll watch-you-type of person.

He doesn’t go fast on jet skis and you’d never find him jumping off a diving board or off a cliff into water. It’s not his speed and it never has been. He’s not interested in going on crazy rides at the fair, either. He likes the feeling of being in control.

He asked me to come get him after he flipped the car

He’d been gone exactly thirty minutes when I got a call from him. As soon as I picked up the phone he said, “I’m fine Mom, but I flipped my car. It’s upside down in a ditch and I need you to come get me. The police are on their way.”

I’m still not sure what I said but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t much. He’s okay, he’s okay, he’s fine, kept going through my head. 

“Mom, can you come get me?”

I told him I’d be right there. He was only 2 miles from our house and before I got there he reminded me again that the situation looked really bad, but he was fine as were the three friends he wasn’t supposed to have in his car. Thank God.

Where we live, kids have to wait 9 months before driving passengers under the age of 20 (besides family members). My son had less than one month to go before his restriction was lifted, but he decided not to abide by the law and to go for a joy ride with his friends.

As I got there, the cop was asking him questions. He got after him more than once saying things like,” Don’t lie to me or your mom. You were going faster and you know it. You were showing off for your friends.”

I had to let him handle the fallout by himself

Watching your child in a situation like this is difficult. Not nearly as difficult as it would have been watching him being taken away on a stretcher, or seeing one of his friends injured though.

I wanted nothing more than to handle this for him but instead I just stood there and did nothing. I could see his posture and the way he hung his head that he was shaken. Good. I knew if I interceded, he’d learn nothing. This was on him; facing the police officer, the hefty fine, the loss of his totaled car, and the fact he has to live with the realization that he came very close to taking some of his friends’ lives, simply to pull a donut in a parking lot. 

I’m not sure when I’ll let my son drive again. I think I need more time for that one. Three months? Six months? I’m not sure that he really let what happened sink in enough to satisfy me.

But what I do know is that he came very close to losing his life that night. I know I haven’t slept much since. I know that one minute you can watch your teen back out of the driveway while you settle in to watch a show, and the next time you hear their voice, they can be telling you that they flipped their car. Dwelling on the fragility of life will absolutely send your mind into a tailspin that won’t quit.

Parents of teens-warn your teens about the dangers

Parents of teen drivers: Show this picture on my son’s car to your children. Tell them he was close to home. Tell them my son was a “safe” driver. He loves his friends. He loved that damn car. He didn’t mean to flip it obviously, but he said it happened so fast he doesn’t even remember the details. 

One minute he was taking a corner way too fast trying to burn rubber, the next he was in a ditch, upside down not sure if he’d be able to get out of his car, or if he was all right. 

What was meant to be an innocent drive, having fun with his buddies didn’t turn out the way he expected. And yes, it could have been far worse. As his mom, I’m hoping it was bad enough to give him the only wake-up call he’ll need when it comes to driving. I hope he now realizes that he’s dealing with a dangerous machine and that there are enough worries and dangers in the world he doesn’t need to add to them by acting irresponsibly.

Please show your kids this picture

Maybe if he’d seen a picture like this it would have made him think twice. Maybe it would have negated the “it won’t happen to me” mentality that he and so many teenagers have.

I’m here to say it can happen to anyone.

It happened to my cautious son who decided it would be worth the risk fo a few minutes of entertainment for his friends. So, please. Please show this picture to your teen driver and tell them the story and hug them extra tight today.

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

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About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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