Baja kit. It had gigantic tires and a teeny little Aftermarket steering wheel (wisely replaced by my father). I would always get a circular soot mark on my jeans from one of the two chrome exhaust pipes while scraping the rear windshield on chilly Wyoming mornings. But my favorite thing to do was making it LOUDLY backfire by holding down the clutch as I coasted downhill on my way home from school.
That car was was my first love.
Cell phones in those days, if you even HAD one, were the size of shoe boxes that you had to plug into the cigarette lighter and teenagers communicated by passing notes in the hallway. No iPhones, iPods, texting - heck...the internet hadn't even been invented yet! (kidding)
I can't imaging the distractions teenagers face in this current environment, nor can imagine the challenges parents face trying to communicate the dangers of distracted driving. I have only faint memories of my mom slamming on the phantom passenger brake and the rest of the trauma (on her part I am sure) is gone. As a teenager the learning to drive rite-of-passage was a ticket to freedom. Safety messages could not compete with the glory of not having to take the bus or being able to leave campus for lunch.
This week is National Teen Driver Safety week and there are a lot of great resources out there to help parents spark these difficult discussions. I've rounded up a few of them:
Gorey but effective Public Service Announcement highlighting the dangers of texting while driving:
The Century Council has produced an interactive initiative called The Concentration Game which mimics some of the distractions drivers may face.
The Ride Like a Friend site has a nifty Rule Setting Tool to help teen drivers set ground rule behavior for their passengers. The conversation is the first step, but the most effective tool is to lead by example. Also - nagging works. I come to a complete stop to this day because my Dad taught me how to feel the backward "lurch" when the car redistributes itself after stopping. It took a few times, but I eventually got it.