Teen Driver Safety Week Part 1: A West Hartford dad’s important advice

Connecticut Families

HARTFORD – “My son, Reid, when he was 17 years old in 2006, died in a one car crash on an interstate highway in central Connecticut,” says Tim Hollister of West Hartford.

Two other multiple fatality teen-involved crashes followed shortly after.

“At that point, then Governor Rell said, ‘Enough is enough’ and appointed a task force to look at our teen driver laws which were then among the most lenient in the nation,” explains Hollister who served on that task force. He learned he had not been well-informed and felt many parents were in the same position.

“The human brain is not fully developed until we reach the age of 22 to 25 and remember we’re teaching our teens to drive at age 16,” he says.

The work led to changes in the law for new drivers including an 11pm curfew, a limit on passengers and a two-hour class for parents. “I think it’s the single most important thing we did,” says Hollister.

Now, Connecticut’s laws are among the strictest in the country.

Hollister started a blog – From Reid’s Dad – which grew into a book called Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving.

“You can’t put your convenience ahead of your teen driver’s safety and a corollary to that is don’t push a kid that’s not ready to drive into driving,” he says.

The acronym PACTS helps parents remember the five biggest dangers in teen driving: Passengers, Alcohol and drugs, Curfews, Texting and Seatbelts.

“I very much felt a public service need to get the information out there,” says Hollister.

Since the new laws, there’s been an astounding 70 percent reduction in teen driver fatalities here in the state.

Hollister says be vigilant. He knows all too well it’s a matter of life and death: “Getting your license doesn’t mean you’re a safe driver. It means you’re a beginner at a very dangerous activity.”

Coming up Wednesday, we visit a local driver’s education class and share strategies for parents about managing those stressful moments when your child begins his journey behind the wheel.

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