Seat belt sorrow: Mourning parent, state trooper discuss teen driving safety

Seat belt sorrow: Mourning parent, state trooper discuss teen driving safety

(WAFF) - Parents, you try to your best to keep your children safe, especially when they reach a life milestone like getting their driver's license. You hope they listen and take those lessons to heart. But sometimes the unimaginable happens.

Anna Thornton and Teresa Hardiman are close friends. Thornton's son, Jonathan, was dating Hardiman's granddaughter, Maddie.

"They were a pea and a pod together. They were just an amazing young couple very in love," Thornton said as she described the two kid's relationship.

The lovebirds often talked about their future, like graduating from college and eventually buying a house.

On the evening of April 14, 2017, things took a tragic turn. Maddie and Jonathan were headed to a water balloon fight in Arab when they crashed on Gullion Road. Maddie was flown to Birmingham while Jonathan was rushed to Huntsville Hospital.

"I was sitting on my couch at the time and I got a call from Huntsville Hospital," Thornton said, describing how she found out about the car crash.

Both Maddie and Jonathan died that night. Neither of them were wearing seat belts.

Alabama State Trooper Curtis Summerville said teenagers are the largest group of people who don't wear their seat belts.

"They get in the car, they got their friends, they're listening to music, doing so many other things, and that's kind of at the bottom of the list, so to speak, to put their seat belt on, and I just think they don't understand the dangers of not wearing a seat belt," Summerville said.

He suggests that in order to get the message across to teens, there has to be re-enforcement from teachers, parents and law enforcement.

There is a way that you can track your teens driving habits. AT&T has an app that is free for iPhone and Android users called AT&T Drive Mode. It automatically turns on when the car starts moving. It will alert you if your teen turns the app off.

Canary notifies you if your teen is texting and driving. You'll also receive updates about your teens driving speed and if they are driving faster than the speed limit or if they break a curfew you can set on the app.

Cell Control is a little black box that you place on the windshield of you your teen's car and an app is downloaded on their phone. The app will let you control what your teen can and can't do while behind the wheel.

Hum by Verizon is an app that let's you know how your teen is driving and where they are driving to. You can also track their speed and it can also summon roadside assistance.

AutoBrain was created by parents, a techie and a volunteer first responder. It plugs into a port in your teen's car and reports your teen's speed, if they go somewhere they're not supposed to, or if they have been in an accident.

There are several apps that let you track your child's driving. These are just a few available to you. You can find more at Lifewire or ParentMap.

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