Baby You Can Drive My Car

For most teens, driving a car is a right of passage – especially in the USA. Of course, you’re going to want to be smart and safe about it. So, here’s a bit of information on how to do that.

Are You Ready to Drive?

Before getting behind the wheel, you need to consider your developmental readiness, social functioning and ecological awareness.

The responsibilities that come with a driver's license are vast. You must consider several factors before deciding to begin driving. Because teenagers develop at different rates, each teen needs to consider whether certain markers have been achieved.

Also, teenagers need to express the appropriate attitudes and concerns before becoming drivers. So, to make sure you do, read on.

Indicators that a Teen is Ready to Drive
Developmental issues worthy of close attention include physical, social and emotional guide points. If these markers are not readily evident, you may wish to wait before taking the wheel. As hard as that may be to wait.

Physically, teens are developing at different rates. Teens require extra sleep yet often seek to push their bodies past the tired point. Do you?

Also, adolescent brains are still growing and preparing the teen to have the capacity to understand rules and exercise good judgment. If these are not evident in other areas of your life, perhaps you should take pause.

Socially, teenagers who drive are under a large amount of peer pressure from non-driving friends. These pressures may include induction to risk-taking and thrill seeking behaviors. Also, as substance abuse begins to become more prevalent in the same time frame of age as most adolescents begin to drive, you must be aware of any drug or alcohol use of your friends. And, if you have ever engaged in alcohol or drug abuse, you and your parents should make certain this issue is addressed before validating your desire for a license.

Again, peer pressure is a paramount social concern. You should have already proven good responsibility in the face of friends' poor judgment.

At the 2008 Lifesavers Workshop, Dr. Jean Shope presented a study indicating peer influence may be the strongest factor in social development. As such, friends of the teenage driver should be positive role models as well. A friend's propensity for risk-taking could lead to very dangerous situations while you’re driving – even if you’re not directly engaged in the behavior. But especially if you are.

Once the decision has been made to go forward with getting your driver's license, you should respect legal restrictions and testing required by the state. This includes driver's education and licensing testing. Once licensed, you must clearly understand the responsibility that comes with a newly minted permit.

First responsibility falls in following all the laws of the road. You should continue to learn as you drive, not only driving skills but driving etiquette. In today's climate, road rage and other detrimental social interactions behind the wheel take place everyday. Your problem solving skills should be kept sharp. You and your parents should cover these topics in ongoing conversations and you should  come to them with questions as specific situations arise.

A Teenage Driver Readiness Checklist
So how do you know when you’re ready to take the wheel? Consider this:

  • Am I physically ready to take the wheel?
  • Do I have any sleep deprivation concerns or other organic functioning  problems?
  • Am I socially ready to take the wheel? Does I have the ability to stand up in the front of peer pressures?
  • Am I having other difficulties that would distract me from being a good driver?
  • Do I have any history of drug or alcohol use? Are there other emotional factors to consider?
  • Am I ready to address any current driver concerns? Am I ready to handle road rage and intelligently address concerns to the ecology?

Before taking to the road, you should take a serious look at yourself as a driver. Physical, emotional and social concerns and points must be addressed. Once all of these concerns have been satisfied, you can look forward to driving with more confidence and safety.

Adapted from the article Factors Affecting Readiness in Teenage Drivers: Developmental, Social andEcological Teen Driver's License Concerns
Author: Reece Manley
Published: Apr 19, 2009


American Family Insurance Reaches For Teens

American Family Insurance is partnering with MTV and Mindshare Entertainment to reach teenagers about safe driving habits.

The integrated marketing effort includes five episodes of "The Road to the Woodies," in which a teenage driver navigates closed-course obstacles and typical teen distractions to improve her driving skills using Madison, Wis.-based American Family Insurance's proprietary Teen Safe Driver program.

The promotion kicks off with the launch of a co-branded microsite at where participants can enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to attend the 2009 mtvU Woodie Awards. Site visitors also can virtually "sign" a safe-driving pledge, test their safe-driving knowledge, learn more safe-driving tips from American Family, and watch each of the "The Road to the Woodies" episodes.

The campaign is being promoted via online and on-air at MTV, according to Telisa Yancy, advertising director at American Family Insurance. This includes promotional TV spots and VJ spots on MTV, as well as co-branded banners and editorial throughout

"We've focused most of our communications outreach on the parents of beginning drivers, which makes sense because the parents are our customers," Yancy told Marketing Daily. "While we feel Teen Safe Driver is the best program available, some parents simply cannot overcome the reluctance of their young drivers to give the program a try.

"That's where MTV comes in, with its strong appeal to teenagers in the beginning-driver years. If we can open their eyes to the possibilities of Teen Safe Driver, that makes the parents' job all that much easier and helps American Family reach many more teens who can benefit from the program." "The Road to the Woodies" features a teen named Lauren completing four driving challenges on a closed course to prove to her family that she is a safe and responsible driver. If successful, she wins tickets to the 2009 mtvU Woodie Awards in New York.

The challenges will air in four two-minute segments premiering Oct. 28 during MTV's "The Ruins." The short-form series will culminate with the fifth segment airing during the Woodies on Dec. 4 on MTV.

As she navigates the course, Lauren is tested by surprise calls and texts from her family and friends. She also receives highway driving tips from experts like 2006 Indy Pro champion, Jay Howard. Lauren's parents will view her driving "report card"' through Teen Safe Driver's unique in-vehicle video and audio unit that captures risky driving behaviors and provides expert analysis and coaching tips.

The company launched a related marketing campaign Aug.10, 2009 themed "The Family You Choose." A 30-second TV spot shows a car full of teens hoisted safely aloft by caring friends and family, symbolizing the company's commitment to work with parents to keep teen drivers safe. The campaign also includes print, radio and digital efforts. It is scheduled to run though Oct. 24, 2009, which includes National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 18-24.

Teen Safe Driver, offered through American Family Insurance, combines technology, expert advice and parental involvement to help young drivers overcome learning-to-drive challenges. American Family, in association with DriveCam Inc., provides the year-long Teen Safe Driver at no cost to American Family auto insurance customers who have a beginning teen driver in their household. The program is now available in all 19 of American family's operating states.

More than 6,000 families have participated in the program, with teens averaging a 70% decrease in high-risk driving events, according to the company. Research has shown direct involvement from parents vastly improves teens' driving habits.

Automakers Panic As Gen Y Abandons The Automotive Dream
Posted by Susan Chi on October 9, 2009 06:22 PM

Detroit's year of bad news just got worse: the car industry isn't only losing sales from current buyers depressed by the economy -- it's losing the future.

A new J.D. Power report says teens and twenty-somethings lack what was once thought to be the genetic desire to own a car.

The study, which analyzed hundreds of thousands of conversations on blogs and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, showed young people have a poor image of the auto industry. The bad economy and high gas prices could be to blame. But J.D. Power blames social media itself: "with the advent of social media and other forms of electronic communities, teens perceive less of a need to physically congregate, and less of a need for a mode of transportation.”

Of course, research done among social media diehards that finds social media is more popular than driving may be suffering from an echo-chamber effect. People chained to Facebook and Twitter may indeed be too busy to go out. But the trend is real, and has been building: The New York Times reported last year that fewer 16-year-olds now rush to get their licenses as soon as they're eligible.

Kia is trying to reach this key demographic through the tried-and-true car-sales tactic of rock 'n' roll. The Kia Soul is a new line of basic, inexpensive cars (starting at $14,000) targeted at college students and twenty-somethings. But it’s not a cheap Hyundai, mind you, it’s “hip” – just ask the cute hamsters in Kia’s “A New Way to Roll” commercial. A Soul test-drive earns you a free ticket to Kia’s “Collective Soul” festival – a series of indie-rock concerts and art installations across the U.S. featuring bands like MGMT and Santigold. Soul sales have being doing well.  Kia isn’t the only car currently resorting to music as a means to reach young consumers.

The Toyota Scion, outfitted with Scion-branded mix CDs, is branded as a music lover’s car, although not necessarily a Gen-Y music lover’s car, based on Toyota's selections. Honda, on the other hand, is trying to reach the 25-49 age group with a documentary series on innovation and creativity, "Dream the Impossible," which launched online in January. The site's traffic has increased tenfold, but its correlation to sales has yet to be determined. If these strategies fail, auto brands can still find an encouraging market in China, where car sales are rising and the youthful dream of shrugging off all responsibilities to go on a soul-searching joyride is alive and well.

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