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A Time For Refocusing Our Efforts on Teen Driving Accidents

Advocating For Highway and Auto Safety in CT

I have intentionally not written an article on accident prevention or teen safety issues since the horrific event that befell our friends and neighbors in Sandy Hook. The overwhelming sadness that was felt by people around the world made this subject matter seem insensitive and inappropriate. I struggled with when might be the right time to once again advocate for these issues and this week I received, what I believe, was the answer.

My friend and colleague on the CT DMV Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving, Sherry Chapman, sent her fellow committee members an e-mail on Monday. Sherry is in Washington DC at the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety’s Press Conference this week where they are going to announce how each state is doing in its efforts to fight teen driving accidents and teen deaths. 

Sherry is the founder and president of Mourning Parents Act, Inc. Sherry’s involvement is a result of losing her 19-year-old son Ryan in a car accident in 2002. Sherry continues in her very valiant effort to spare others the unimaginable grief that she continues to endure. It is through Sherry’s tireless efforts that I have decided to resume this column now because it is always the appropriate time to carry on the work of attempting to prevent accidents, reduce injuries and save lives.

There can be far fewer times when we should be more mindful than ever about how dear human life is and that each of us have an opportunity, and I would suggest a responsibility, to be a part of this important movement that is championed by people like Sherry Chapman. If you are not moved to volunteer and get involved personally in some way, at least help to become more involved in being parents who are very vigilant in educating your children as to acceptable behaviors, being good role models, and properly dealing with situations which could create increased risks to themselves and others.

If you have a teen who is just starting the driving process, please go to www.ct.gov/teendriving and download the free Teen Parent Driving Agreement so you can carefully review it with your teen and have this much needed conversation about your expectations and the consequences for violations of the rules.

It is the hope of people like Sherry Chapman that we be spared something that no parent should ever have to endure. Please help her in becoming a part of her effort and the efforts of so many like her. Our collective hearts ache for all of those affected by these horrible tragedies, and especially our friends and neighbors in Sandy Hook. As one parent who lost a child in a recent accident so poignantly remarked, “we will get through this, but we will never get over it.”

Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. He is a member of the CT DMV Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving. He has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents." He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.

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