Program to make parents aware of how kids drive

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Mike DuPre'
Saturday, December 1, 2007
— Tanner Davis, oldest son of Janesville police Capt. Dan Davis, was a “terrible driver,” his dad said.

By age 17, Tanner had caused three rear-end accidents—two minor, one resulting in a ticket—and he had been cited for driving 90 mph in a 55-mph zone on a county highway, the elder Davis said.

Davis said he and his wife, Mary, sat down and had the discussion:

“What are we going to do to not only keep him alive but to keep him from killing someone in the community? We were truly that concerned about his driving.”

Years before, Davis had read about electronic devices that could be plugged into newer vehicles’ on-board computer diagnostic systems to record speed, acceleration and hard braking.

The devices also can be set to sound an alarm if a certain speed is exceeded.

They plug into on-board diagnostic ports, which most 1996 or newer vehicles have.

The device—and the limits and consequences for breaking the rules that the Davises set for Tanner—reined in his aggressive driving almost immediately, Davis said.

Now, because of grant from AAA of Wisconsin and in conjunction with the Janesville School District, local police will make 100 such devices—brand name Drive Right CarChip—to parents and teen drivers at both Parker and Craig high schools, 50 chips for each school.

Drivers 19 or younger caused accidents that killed 17 people in Rock County between 2002 and 2006, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The soon-to-start Teen Safe Driving Program is designed to make both teens and their parents more aware of how the kids drive and when they drive aggressively to try to lower that number and the number of injuries and tickets related to young drivers.

Although young drivers’ speeding transgressions will be recorded and shared with police, the program’s goal is not to bust young drivers for speeding but to keep them and others safe, Davis said.

Parents or guardians can register for the free chips and program participation until 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7. If more than 50 families sign up at either school, a drawing will determine who is in the program.

Participation will require attendance at one of two informational meetings the week of Dec. 10, four individual weekly meetings with officers to review results and filling out pre- and post-program survey forms, Davis explained.

Participants must have a computer with a Windows operating system to download data from the chips.

Also crucial, Davis said, will be for parents to establish driving rules for their children and consequences for breaking them. In the Davis household, Tanner would lose his driving privileges for one day for every 1 mph he drove over the limits set by his parents.

“Set the parameters and consequences ahead of time, and stick to the consequences,” Davis said.

Davis acknowledged that he, too, was a bad driver as a teen.

“The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree,” the police officer said.

But after one instance in which Tanner exceeded the speed limit set by his parents, he did not break the limits again, his father said.

Last updated: 9:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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