Supermodel Niki Taylor knows all too well the risks of unsafe driving. In 2001, Taylor was involved in a car crash that nearly took her life-all because the driver of the vehicle she was in, James Renegar, did something that many drivers do: he reached to answer his cell phone while he was driving. That quick glance away from the road caused Renegar’s car to swerve off the road and crash into a telephone pole, leaving his friend, Niki Taylor, critically injured.
The young mom underwent dozens of surgeries during her long recovery period before life was back to normal for her. This year Taylor, the mom of 14 year old twin sons Jake and Hunter, gave birth to a baby daughter, Ceil. But Taylor’s brush with death is not something she’ll soon forget.
This week, in honor of National Teen Driving Safety Week, Niki Taylor has collaborated with State Farm Insurance Company and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to help concerned parents talk to their teens about safe driving.
On the website Betterteendriving.com, parents can find resources like a parent handbook, house rules for teen drivers and a teen driver safety quiz. In this day and age of cell phones and text messaging, teen drivers are at more risk than ever to be distracted while driving.
Another major risk factor for teen driving crashes is multiple passengers in the car. According to the website Ridelikeafriend.com, three or more passengers in a car driven by a teen driver greatly increases the risk of a fatal accident.
Research from the Better Teen Driving website says that parent-child communication can greatly influence a teen’s driving habits. The site also lists important information regarding laws in each state, including seat belt laws and cell phone laws.
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, twenty one states prohibit the use of cell phones by new drivers and text messaging by drivers is illegal in 18 states. But teen drivers in every state should be educated that cell phones and texting while driving are unsafe.
And while some of the facts may be grim- and teens may think they are invincible- the bottom line is parents must take the time to educate their teens about the unique driving dangers they face.
For the record, James Renegar was 27 years old at the time of the car accident that nearly took Niki Taylor’s life. Which just goes to show, driver safety is not just for teens.
National Teen Driver Safety week runs from October 18 to October 24, 2009.