When I picked up “Crashproof Your Kids: Make Your Teen a Safer, Smarter Driver,” by Timothy C. Smith, published in 2006, I thought about my grandson, Josh.

He is only 10, but when he visits Stillwater, and we’re returning home from a drive, he makes sure we don’t unbuckle our seat belts till we’re in the driveway. So far his parents are doing a great job informing him and his little sister about safe driving.

Smith’s book is about a subject that is supremely important. In Oklahoma, there have been about 600 traffic fatalities so far this year. Can you imagine the public outcry if 600 Oklahomans had died of a new, mysterious disease in the same period?

But traffic deaths, so common and so frequent, have become just part of routine daily news reports.

Smith, a driving instructor and racer, has a wife and three children and lives in Chicago. His suggestions apply to any driver, but he is most concerned about teenagers because the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States is car crashes. Most are caused by careless driving.

The typical accident story in the morning paper is that an 18 -year-old was killed when his car left the highway, crashed into a tree and overturned. The highway patrol said two passengers were flown to a nearby hospital in serious condition. No one in the vehicle was wearing a seat belt.

But adult drivers, parents especially, can do a lot to change bad driving habits. It takes some action. Smith’s book is excellent, with quotations that fit his arguments. This one says a lot: “Regret for the things we did can be tempered over time. It is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”

And what he suggests is not hard. He writes that he would like to improve and require drivers’ education for everyone in high school. He writes that it is much more rigorous in other countries. Those trying for a driver’s license in Germany have to have spend many hours in class and then pass a hard test. The new driver is then on probation for two years.

Getting a feel for how a car works, its size, its blind spots, its braking system and its overall handling is important. Smith takes readers through all these, including how to follow simple directions from one place to another, how to yield, how to pass, how to drive well in city traffic or on the interstates and how to be conscious at all times of speed.

One of Smith’s best ideas is this: “The lessons you teach your teen as he learns to drive will serve as a metaphor as he or she drives through life.”

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