A father wrote to me two weeks ago to ask: what car would you recommend we get for our teen who has hemophilia and is learning to drive? His timing was impeccable. Tommy just totaled his car a few weeks ago. He was driving his 10 year old convertible Saab--convertible. And a truck hit him square on. Luckily, Tommy was wearing his seatbelt. Or not so luckily: this is one thing we always insisted our kids do when they get into a car. He walked away with only a severe bruise on his side. And it was a blessing in disguise: I never liked that Saab, with its seats that never went down, top that never functioned and a speedometer that went to 180 mph.
So what car is best for a teen with hemophilia, who is learning to drive? I decided to poll some of our readers and here's what they said:
Carol M. said: "We have raised 3 boys; Andy is age 25 and married. He has severe factor VIII deficiency plus Von Willebrand disease; Ben is age 21 with severe factor VIII; and Jacob is age 19, no hemophilia. When they got their first vehicles, they purchased nothing new or fast and each bought their own insurance and paid for their vehicles themselves. Purchasing a vehicle yourself makes you value it more. All have since upgraded to newer cars and pickups. Praise the Lord none have had severe wrecks, but they have all hit a deer!"
Beverly told me, "Regarding teens driving, I taught 2 daughters and 2 sons to drive. I do not worry anymore or any less over my sons driving as I do about my daughters, teens starting to drive are a worry for every parent and as you've just showed us it doesn't have to be our children who cause an accident, sometimes they just happen. When my youngest got his license I was nervous mainly because there are just so many cars on the roads and everyone is going faster and faster and seem to be preoccupied but I gave him the same advice I gave my oldest daughter 14 years ago: watch out for everyone around you! A plus for us also these days are cell phones: the kids can call when they are running late and we can call when they are late! I have always tried to treat my boys as normal as my girls and getting a license is certainly normal. Tell that new driving dad that his son will be fine, he won't be going to bed early as like the rest of us we wait for the car to pull into the driveway."
Carl L. recommended, "A 3 to 9 year old Volvo or Audi."
Carol B. replied: "That was very lucky for your son. Our son Mike started driving 2 months ago and we decided to give him the truck rather than the convertible :-) He saved and we matched his $1400 for a (not exactly what he had in mind) 92 Dodge Dakota. It is quite the gas hog but we feel better knowing that he is in a car that has some weight and a drivers side airbag. Of course he never drives with out his medic alert dangling from his neck.
Allison P.: "This is probably something you have already seen in some form or fashion, but I remember reading about a "Driving Contract" that teenagers make with their parents. I've attached a link to one of these sites (I'm sure there are dozens). I think it is a good idea - especially for those of us with children with bleeding diorders!
Another parent recommended: "I would advise reading Consumer Reports. They do a annual safety report on cars."
Carl Lampe then wrote and changed his mind: tongue in cheek, he recommends the car sitting in the drivevway in the photo!
Susan G. offered: "Brett turned 16 last October, but just got his license 2 weeks ago. He has a latex allergy, so will airbags pose an even further problem? As a parent, your mind starts going into high-gear as their independence grows, doesn't it? :)"
Amy M. thought: "I think you hit the nail on the head that it isn't the car but the child that makes the difference. A very highly rated car will not withstand the impact of a semi truck hitting it on the interstate regardless of what it cost or what the federal highway commission says it will withstand. For me, I used the keys as a privilege. You screw up and you lose the privilege. The best thinking I can share is to get the son out on the road under different conditions with supervision and allow him to become comfortable and capable behind the wheel. The more I expected of my boys the more the produced in the way of responsible habits. I am the parent and I what I say goes because I am legally responsible for the car, insurance, and passengers as long as that child is under 18 and still will have the potential for a law suit if damage is done before he is 21. Good luck and pray the prayer of they are not mine God and I know you will take care of them when I can't."
Andrea B. wrote: "Spencer received his license this past July and had his first (and hopefully last) accident this past Friday; one day after we returned from a great family holiday in the Bahamas and one week before the start of school. Good grief!
"The following are a few of the guidelines we used in selecting a used vehicle for Spencer:
* We called our insurance company for information on the guidelines they use when insuring teenage drivers.
* We also found helpful information on safety issues by researching the government and the Insurance Institute's crash test results: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, www.nhtsa.gov and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, www.iihs.org
* Four key items to look for in a vehicle: midsize vehicle, front impact airbags, side impact airbags as well as head-protecting side airbags. The last item is particularly critical for those with bleeding disorders.
* A bit off topic, but by far, the most instrumental and influential information about safe driving came from his father and me. I know that while Spencer had his learner's permit, he dreaded driving with us because of the constant and consistent dialog (though decidedly one-sided) that occurred every time he got behind the wheel. Though, he still managed to get into an accident and thank God, it was in our driveway; I know the next time he is allowed behind the wheel, he'll remember all our conversations and fully realize the importance of safe driving. He now realizes we weren't just talking to hear our voices, it was and still is because we love him."
"I was thinking of something along the lines of a Buffalo or Cougar," said Robert and Amy W. "They are bomb resistant vehicles made by Force Protection in Ladson, SC and are constructed on a frame from Mack Trucks. I still have some time before having to cross this bridge. Our son is 5. Hopefully, by the time he is of legal driving age, the war in Iraq will be over and we can pick up one of these from a surplus sale at a bargain."
And what of Tommy? He told me that the guy who hit him actually threatened him at the scene of the accident! As if! He said if Tommy reported the acident, he would come after him becasue "I know where you live." Apparently, this guy was at fault in another accident just the week before! I was worried about Tommy, who lives alone, but he reassured me when he said, "Don't worry, Mom. I gave him our home address." Oh yeah, that reassures me a whole lot!
Tommy turns 21 on September 8. We bought him a used but good Subaru Outback: good with gas, not too fast, reliable and practicle and NOT a convertible!
Great Book I Just Read
Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergreen
Like oil today, the European quest for spice drove the world’s economy and influenced global politics. The global spice trade underwent upheaval in 1453 when Constantinople fell to Turks, and the overland spice route between Asia and Europe was severed. The Age of Exploration began when the Spaniards and Portguese took to the seas to find new routes. One of these explorers was Ferdinand Magellan. This remarkable story will amaze you as you learn about the courageous men who charted the world, and how they suffered at sea for years in the 1500s. Magellan was a fascinating, fearless but flawed leader, who literally went where no man had gone before and where no one knew what lay ahead. With no reliable maps, no way to record longitude and often no food or water, Magellan relentlessly pursued his vision of global circumnavigation. He died in battle on the shores of the Philippines, where I will be headed in October. Not a trace of him was ever found. One of the greatest exploration and sea epics ever. Four stars!