Program aims to make teens safe drivers
Paul Conlin got tired of teenagers driving recklessly past his Fargo home. As a parent who is protective of his two preschool-age children who play in the yard, he tried yelling and throwing footballs at the young drivers to get them to slow down...
Paul Conlin got tired of teenagers driving recklessly past his Fargo home.
As a parent who is protective of his two preschool-age children who play in the yard, he tried yelling and throwing footballs at the young drivers to get them to slow down.
Then Conlin realized he might make a difference if he could show teens what can result from irresponsible driving.
The stay-at-home dad founded a program called Cars and Kids, which aims to teach teens about the responsibilities and consequences of operating a vehicle.
The sessions, geared for teens and their parents, feature speakers who were either victims or affected by drunken driving crashes.
"It's sad, but we become desensitized to this issue," Conlin said. "But when you come face to face with a victim, someone whose life's been really changed, it really hits home."
The seminars also educate teens on the legal and insurance costs involved with drunken driving or getting into a car crash.
North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman, a member of the Cars and Kids board of trustees, said the program's safety message hits home with teenagers.
"The program has some very innovative ways to get that message across to parents and to their teenage drivers," Poolman said.
The seminars are unique because they involve the whole family, Poolman said.
Conlin began offering the sessions in January. In August, Cars and Kids became a nonprofit organization, and Conlin now offers the sessions for free.
Some participants have been surprised at the extent of fines, legal fees and other intangible costs involved with getting a DWI, said public defender Joe Parise who speaks about legal ramifications.
A first-time DWI in Minnesota can quickly cost someone thousands of dollars, Parise said. A conviction could also prevent a teen from getting a job in the future that involves driving, he said.
When the program catches on, Poolman said he hopes insurance companies will offer a discount to families that complete the program.
"Teaching responsibility behind the wheel can be a family event and can potentially save lives," Poolman said. "To me, there's nothing more important than that."
The next seminar is split into two evenings, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, Fargo. It's geared for 14- to 17-year-olds.
To register, contact Conlin at (701) 866-3761 or carsand email@example.com . For more information about the program, look for information brochures at Hornbacher's stores.
A fundraiser for the program, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Friday at Meadows Golf Course in Moorhead, includes several contests.
In one, the person who can hit a golf ball closest to the hole will win a 1988 Honda Civic.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590