I read a great article in Texas Highways this month and it brought back a few memories of some road trips I have taken.
The article, written by Clayton Maxwell is entitled, “A Travel-Loving Parent Shares Her Road Trip Wisdom with Her Teenage Daughter.” If you have high school or college students, you need to read this. We want our kids to make fun memories and this article outlines advice for young adult drivers as they hit the road alone or with friends for that gloriously fun, memory-making road trip.
These days, high school and college students plan the entire year for where they will spend spring or summer vacation. There is usually a road trip involved. This article points out how important it is to make good memories, how to really enjoy road trips, the importance of self-reliance, putting down the phone and keeping a journal along the way. Of course, choosing the right soundtrack for the ride is very important to the overall experience. I still can’t go to the beach without hearing “Swingtown” by the Steve Miller Band over and over in my head. It brings back one of my favorite South Padre Island road trip memories.
To those suggestions, I would add a few more to make sure everyone has a safe trip. TxDOT is working statewide to get the word out this month in hopes that not one spring breaker will be injured in a crash. In 2018, there were 444 crashes involving young drivers who were under the influence. Of that number, there were 11 killed and 37 injured.
I urge parents, whether your child is in high school or college, sit down and have the safe driving talk with them before they start the car. Make sure they know that underage drinking is illegal. Make sure they know they can face up to $17,000 in fines and fees, jail time and the loss of their driver’s license if they are stopped or in a crash while driving under the influence of alcohol. Make sure they know there is no shame in calling a cab, designating a sober driver or even calling you for a safe ride home.
Will there be parties that don’t involve drinking during spring or summer break? Of course there will be. But just as sure as I am of that, I am equally as sure that there will be parties that do involve drinking. Parents, I urge you to make sure your young adult knows the drill.
Road trip memories should make you laugh years later, and everyone should be humming a song like “Swingtown” when they think back on them. Have a safe and super road trip, wherever it takes you.
- Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.