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Parents, teens need safe driving contract

Most schools will be out for the summer this week and the good news is the morning commute may be faster for those who travel near schools or share the road with school bus routes. But what's of concern to the Doc as a parent is the number of teenagers, my daughter included, who will be on the road.

The usual concerns arise, knowing teen drivers will be packing the ever-present buzzing and ringing cell phones from which most seem incapable of parting. We've had the discussion many times at our house of the idiocy of driving while using a cell phone and especially driving while "intexticated," and as confident as I am that my kid won't do it, there's always that nagging concern that the slightest distraction can lead to tragic consequences. Speeding is another concern. Even though we have driven by the scarred crash site in our neighborhood where four young men lost their lives last month, we all know time fades the awareness that is heightened right now.

Knowing that constant reminders from concerned parents usually do little more than annoy teens, I did some looking around for other approaches to communicating with my kid and her friends about driving smartly and defensively.

One suggestion I ran across is establishing a parent/teen driving contract with your teen driver. There are dozens of examples of such agreements available online. Check one out at www.saferchild.org/driving.htm. Most contracts include a lot of great points and ideas that parents can use to help with the ongoing dialogue with teens. The most basic and important point is that driving is a privilege, not a right. Another is a license doesn't mean they know it all and are ready to be unleashed on the roadways without further tutelage. I often tell my kid that I am confident with her driving skill to a point. Having to make a harrowing split-second decision when another driver does something unexpected is a whole different level of learning about driving. In the meantime, I hold my breath and pray that the learning comes without accidents.

38th Avenue N

Driver asks: What's up with detour signs?

A few readers have asked about detour signs related to the 38th Avenue N construction project. Hardy Bryan asks:

"Perhaps you can provide a logical explanation for this: As you travel south on Fourth Street N from 54th Avenue to 38th Avenue, there are signs warning motorists that 38th Avenue has a detour and we are to turn east (not west) on 38th Avenue. Coming from the south approaching 38th Avenue N on Fourth Street, signs also direct drivers to turn east because of the detour. What gives?"

We touched base with Meg Korakis of Pinellas County Public Works and asked about what seems to be convoluted information. Korakis explained that those drivers are seeing only the tail end of the detour. She offered this explanation:

"If you were a motorist traveling east on 38th Avenue N at, say, 49th Street, you would find signage directing you around the road closure in this way: Head south on U.S. 19 (34th Street), east on 22nd Avenue N, and north on Fourth Street. Then, as you approach 38th Avenue (which is where you wanted to be until the road closure got in your way), there is a sign directing you to turn right (eastbound) where you can take up your intended route again. Further, at that point, there is an "End Detour" sign (indicating you won't be bothered with signs and road closures from that point on). … The issue arises that there are many opportunities for motorists to enter onto the detour route from different directions or whose travels have no bearing to the road closure at all. For them, these signs are no doubt confusing. However, we have to accommodate the "start-to-finish" traveler."

E-mail Dr. Delay at [email protected] with traffic concerns or questions.

Parents, teens need safe driving contract 05/30/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 30, 2009 4:30am]
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