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Updated safe driving contract now available

What a month! Daylight Saving Time kicks in, stealing an hour along the way. Unseasonably mild temperatures, soft breezes and blue skies make us wonder what happened to March coming in like a lion. And young people are taking to the streets on foot and in vehicles to celebrate the coming of spring and the promise of summer.

That means it’s time for a friendly reminder about “vehicular responsibilities” from Fred Beans Family of Dealerships and CB Cares for parents and the young drivers in their families.

The 2012 CB Cares-Fred Beans Safe Driving Contract, designed to help parents and teens negotiate the rules of responsible vehicle use—and agree on consequences for infractions—is available in hard copy or as a PDF at any Fred Beans location as well as from CB Cares, a local nonprofit that serves as a catalyst among community leaders, agencies, businesses, schools and families to improve the quality of life in Central Bucks.

The two organizations, who collaborated to develop the first Safe Driving Contract in 2008, have just updated the teen safety tool to incorporate the new state law banning texting while driving, which went into effect March 8. As a primary offense, it allows police officers to stop any drivers seen to be texting, reading a text or in any way having hands and eyes on an interactive wireless device of any kind – and slap them with a $50 fine.

But that is just one of the topics for parents and young drivers to discuss using the sample contract.

For the majority of us, having a newly licensed teenaged driver in the household creates some of the heaviest worries—and the hottest battles—of parenthood. Remembering our own early behind-the-wheel years rarely makes us feel less anxious, especially with all the new distractions that are waiting to catch our kids off guard: cell phones, GPS screens, smart phones and tablet devices, hundreds of radio stations and hundreds more vehicles on the roads of our communities.

For many families, the 2012 CB Cares-Fred Beans Safe Driving Contract can be used right out of the box. For others, it will initiate the conversation and remind kids and adults about points they may want to discuss, from cell phone use to who pays for gas, how many passengers are allowed, who sees to regular maintenance, what’s the curfew, who is responsible for insurance and inspections, do home chores and grades impact driving privileges—and the biggie: what happens if the teen driver breaks a rule.

“We hope to provide families with a starting point for a frank and respectful conversation between parents and young drivers on the use of a vehicle,” says Beth Beans Gilbert, vice president of the automotive organization and mother of four. “We want to avoid miscommunication and ‘missed communication.’”

“This way,” says CB Cares executive director Kimberly Cambra, “all parties can negotiate the rules and consequences and have a written document. That way, there is no confusion.”

Negotiating the contract also gives parents an opportunity to treat their young adults like the independent adults they are very soon going to be, and that is good for all parties concerned.

With prom season, Senior Week, graduation and summer closing in fast, it’s not too soon to sit down as a family and make sure you’re all on the same page regarding the use and responsibilities of the drivers in the household.

Besides the above link, the contracts are available at CB Cares in the Bailiwick office complex at 252 West Swamp Rd. (Rt 313), Unit 5, Doylestown, PA 18902; at Fred Beans dealerships and subsidiaries; through CB-Cares.org and FredBeans.com (look for link under “Social” tab); and via email to CB Cares.

And look for the reminders CB Cares installed at exit points for CB West and CB East high schools:

Seat Belts ON.
Cell Phones OFF.
See you tomorrow.