The Case of Truckee Teen Kiely Rodni and Teen Driving Safety

Teen driving

In early August, Truckee teen Kiely Rodni disappeared after a graduation party neat Tahoe National Forest at Prosser Lake. The case captured the attention of Northern Nevadans and people across the nation, as searches continued for three weeks. Unfortunately, searches came to a devastating end last month, on August 23, when a private dive team found Rodni’s car submerged in Prosser Lake with her body inside. [1] The car was found upside down about 14 feet beneath the lake’s surface. An investigation is still ongoing regarding the manner of the death. Rodni was sixteen years old.

Teen Driving Safety in Nevada

While Rodni’s death is still under investigation, police have stated the nature of the roads in the area are steep, curved, and narrow in some areas. Law enforcement has already stated that underage drinking was present at the party.

As a parent, you spend years trying to protect your child from danger, so it can be scary to hand your keys over to your teen. Seeing the news such as that of Rodni can cause more fear and anxiety for parents. Statistics show that in 2019, more than two thousand people were killed in a crash that involves a teen driver, between the age of fifteen and eighteen. Additionally, about seven teens die due to motor vehicle accidents daily, with hundreds more being injured. [2]

These statistics are scary but having a conversation with your teen and preparing them for circumstances they may face on the road will not only ease your anxiety but make your teen a safer driver. So, what exactly can you do to prepare your teen for the road? The following list is a good place to start:

    1. The first step is to understand the restrictions that come with your teens driver’s license. These restrictions vary from state to state. In Nevada, a teen must be fifteen and a half to receive their permit and the learning stage must last for at least six months. During the six months the student must receive fifty hours of driving practice, ten of which must be at night. This practice driving should be completed with an adult (over the age of 21). Once a teen completes a driving test, they can receive a full driver’s license, but it does come with some restrictions. A teen cannot drive at nighttime until they are eighteen years of age. This means no driving between 10pm and 5am unless they are going somewhere specific, such as an event. Additionally in the first six months they cannot drive passengers under the age of eighteen unless they are family members.
    2. Be a good role model— While you might not realize it, your child looks up to you as a driver so ensure you are also practicing the safe driving practices you are preaching. This can include driving at the speed limit, and avoiding texting or calling while driving. Spending time with your teen as they become more accustomed behind the wheel can greatly impact their experience and improve their basic driving skills.
    3. Teach teens about the dangers of driving under the influence— While this is somewhat self-explanatory, it is illegal to drink under the age of 21, and even more illegal and dangerous to drive drunk.  If a teen is under 21, his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) should always be at .00, not just under .08, which is the legal limit for drivers over the age of 21. Once at the legal age to drink, remind your teen to drink responsibly and use either a designated driver or taxi/ride-share to get home.
    4. Don’t Rely on Driver’s Education to teach your teen how to drive— Teens spend only a few hours with driver’s education, and it may be helpful to supplement their education with your own teaching. This can include driving tips, supplemental videos, and resources, etc. Remember, you have a lot more influence on your teen than you think. Being a good influence, as well as being involved with their driving journey can greatly impact their experience behind their wheel.
    5. Set Consequences— Set rules, curfews, and other policies with your teen so that they know they will be held accountable for their actions. It is important to remind them driving is a privilege and not a right. Some parents have found limiting teen phone usage while driving, by using parental controls, is effective. Others have found limiting the places they can drive is also impactful in making the teen a more responsible and safer driver.
[1] https://katiecouric.com/news/what-happened-to-missing-teen-kiely-rodni/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

Image Credit: Carissa Rogers

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