In my house, it’s summer break and my two teens are taking full advantage of their time off before one heads off to college a few states away and the other enters his sophomore year in high school.
It’s that welcomed time of year when life moves a little more slowly, where sleeping late is the norm, when the pool is the central meeting spot, and where having fun is their first priority. And they’re driving more….alone, with siblings, and with friends, still with the first priority of having fun and probably with a more relaxed attitude.
But here are some sobering facts that as parents of teens drivers we need to keep in mind—and share with our teens. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) calls the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer. Statistics show that from the past five years combined, an average of eight teens (aged 16-19) were killed in car accidents every single day during these months, a trend that is likely to continue in 2012.
We can’t afford to underestimate the critical role we need to play in preparing our teens to be safe whether they're behind the wheel or in the passenger seat. Yes, of course we can do that by enforcing rules, emphasizing road safety, reviewing specific permissions, but more importantly being excellent role models as safe drivers ourselves.
Think about the last time you were driving with your teen, or even alone, and just happened to pick up your cell phone to check a text, phone call, email or check your GPS. Distraction behind the wheel happens all the time. I’ve been guilty of it even though I know it’s the wrong message to send to my son. It only takes a few seconds of distraction for a dangerous driving situation to occur which can result in serious injuries and fatalities.
Fortunately, technology is coming to the forefront and there are many new innovative safe driving tools to help. And at StreetOwl, we’re 110% behind this effort. StreetOwl is a new startup currently at Hub Ventures, an accelerator for high-growth for-profit startups with the potential for significant positive social and environmental impact.
In fact, we’re really excited about our new mobile product, RefuelMe, which is a free distraction-free iPhone app designed to allow teens to earn rewards or cash (endorsed by you, the parent) just by driving safely. We’ve been conducing a teen pilot program with amazing response to the concept and a clear validation that teens (especially those who are very new drivers) want to drive more safely with RefuelMe.
Now, we’re looking for parents of teen drivers who want to become part of our early testers group. The first 50 parents to sign up will be sent a $5 Starbucks gift card! You’ll be part of a concerned group of parents with teen drivers who want to make a difference by testing the RefuelMe system and providing us with your feedback. And (!) if you have a teen driver that can participate as well, there is a matching incentive for him/her too.
You can learn more and sign up on the RefuelMe Parent Signup Page. There is no obligation, no cost, and no commitment required, other than spending a little time testing the product and giving us your feedback. We’ll look forward to seeing you there.
Enjoy a safe summer.
Cyndy Sandor, mom of a teen driver, startup addict, StreetOwl founding team member. Reach her at email@example.com