Disclaimer: Super big thanks to Toyota for having me as a guest at the Lifesaver Conference in Denver Colorado. My travel expenses were covered. I was not compensated for attending the event or for writing about Toyota. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by Toyota.

Are Our Teens Safe on the Roads?

I’ve always known that teenagers often lose their lives to fatal car crashes. What I didn’t know, until recently, is that the number one killer of teens are car crashes.

When I was a teenager, and being the daughter of a police officer who frightened me when I was learning to drive, I knew how precarious driving a vehicle could be. I knew then that teens lost their lives often due to car crashes. This is something that became a harsh reality when I was a teenager and I lost friends, acquaintances in High School or friend’s lost family members due to car accidents. We heard the stories, we often saw the aftermath of the wrecks, we felt the heartache and fear, but, it didn’t stop most teens I knew from driving recklessly.

The most distraction we had, back then, was from our own idiocy, loud music, posturing and silliness.

The only electronic device that distracted us then was a pager.

Now? Well, how much are we connected? How often are we distracted as drivers? How often do we stare at the moving map on our GPS? What about eating and drinking? Changing music? Texting or talking on your cell?

We know that texting and driving is dangerous and if we are going to chat on our phones we should be hands free. But, even hands free is a huge distraction.

Combine all of these distractions with an inexperienced teen driver and the world has created a cocktail of catastrophe.

Encouraging a Safe Teen Driver Starts Early

I have an almost 14 year old step-son and a diva of a 11 year old daughter. The focus from first foods, first words and first steps has shifted to first loves, first heartbreaks and first cars. The world of driving is just on the horizon for them… and this frightens me a little. Yes, I still have a few years until this starts being an actual reality. The truth is that their driving behavior has already started to form in their sponge brains.

It starts with us. The parents. Those who drive them around now. They watch, learn and repeat.

I’ve spent so much time advocating for my chronically ill daughter who has life threatening health issues. I’ve, naturally, assumed that would always be our biggest battle. Realizing that her getting into the car as a teen could the tragic mistake I made was jolting. I know I talk about being a safe driver, point out with colorful words when others are not driving safely (hehe) and I think I’ve instilled driving safety in the kids… but has it been enough?

Sure, I want to lock her up, and her siblings, and throw away the key forever. I want to do this for plenty of reasons! I won’t… I didn’t say I can’t because I SO could if I needed to… but, for now… I won’t. Did you read that kids?!

Be the Example

The first thing I decided to change was my own driving behavior. The statistics on distracted driving, and the tragedies that followed, made me physically ill and brought more tears to my eyes than any other events in the past year combined. In order for me to expect my children to be good drivers it has to start with me.

No more texting and driving. Not even when the light is red. Not even for a quick second. I just don’t pick up that phone, the phone is put on silent and everything can wait.

I do not even talk on speaker when I am driving. We aren’t completely focused on driving when we are caught up in a conversation on our cells.

I sure don’t want my soon to be driving teens to risk having a conversation and driving so I have to set that standard.

Be a Part of the Learning Experience

I am also starting to educate myself NOW on how to be a better supporter for my kids when they become drivers.

Toyota is celebrating their 10th year of saving lives through the Toyota Driving Expectations program. Toyota offers complimentary 2.5 hour classes for teens and their parents to help prepare the newest driver in the family. It is a hands on experience that has one mission – to help save lives on the roadway. Signing up for classes on their website is easy.

Here are the current dates and locations for the Toyota Driving Expectations Spring Tour –


Toyota Headquarters in Torrance, CA – May 4 & 5

Bass Pro Shops in Denver, CO – May 18 & 19

Toyota Texas Plant in San Antonio, TX – June 8 & 9


It’s FREE – I just thought I would emphasize that. 😛

Toyota can also bring the program to your local high school and your local Toyota dealership.  You can visit the Toyota Driving Expectations site to find out how to bring this lifesaving program to your community.

Toyota also has another resource for parents and teens called Toyota Teen Driver which is a plethora of online information for the whole family.

I don’t want my kids to be terrified to drive with me in the car… I want them to drive me, safely, everywhere I want to go. I want to be able to lovingly annoy them about how long it will take to get there, when we will stop for a bathroom break and why we have to listen to that horrible music… I want them to take road trips and know they will come home with memories of awesomeness… I want them to be able to take the car out, on dates… wait, no… scratch that one. No dating. Ever. I do want to know that every time they get behind the wheel or trust a friend to drive them that they will be empowered, safe and come home safely… and most importantly, I want to do everything that I can to make sure they won’t add to the statistic of teen deaths.


I was invited to join the Toyota Womens Influencer Network aka TWIN thanks to the Clever Girl Collective and it’s been such a genuinely eye opening experience. As part of this program I am introduced to the core values of Toyota and am able to have a deeper understanding of what Toyota is about.

I think this must be said… there is a huge freaking difference between companies that write a check to have their name on a cause to boost their PR image and companies like Toyota that genuinely stick to core values that have a genuine impact.

As an introduction to Toyota members of Toyota Women Influencers Network were invited to their headquarters in Torrance, California for a “TWIN Camp” where we learned about all things Toyota. I’m an information geek so the opportunity to learn is something that I get giddy over.

This is a company that takes care of as well as values it’s people… and at this TWIN Camp it showed. It’s sometimes hard to find a company that appreciates what a Social Media Entrepreneur does. It’s a important to spread the word on how to do it right as well as being appreciative for the companies, like Toyota, that are trying to do it right.

What is the primary thing that a blogger needs to build a foundation of success for any campaign?

Information, respect and inspiration. We need something about the company that motivates us.

Toyota delivered that and then some. Everything I learned about Toyota motivates me in a genuine and authentic way because they are a company that is doing it right.

The TWIN Camp was an information packed day filled with presentations from many departments, tour of the Toyota Museum as well as test driving opportunities. We also got a lot of one on one time with those that could answer our most pertinent questions as well as reciprocate what we feel Toyota could do with Social Media.

Highlights of what I learned:


  • Toyota practices the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen. Kaizen means improvement or change for the better. It is something that is always in progress and continuous. You will see a lot of companies rush to make changes and improve when things start to fall short, however, with Kaizen you are always making small continuous progress upward.
  • I’m in love with how all the Toyota vehicles handle. I’m not a car snob or a car expert by any means but I love everything about the Toyota vehicles. I also really want a Tundra one day, however, the Prius has my practical side leaning towards it. The new Prius models really make it possible for anyone to have the perfect Prius for them.
  • By supporting Toyota we support it’s amazing philanthropic efforts. They believe that an auto company can be a vehicle for a change. With programs like 100 Cars for Good as well as their programs for the environment, education and safety it’s evident they are actively making a difference.
  • I love old cars and running around taking pictures with them. The Toyota Museum was a lot of fun.

  • Every single person I’ve met who works for Toyota has nothing but great things to say… even after a few drinks! Seriously, that is substantial. There is a lot to be learned about a company based on it’s employees and what they truly think. Not only does everyone with Toyota love working for them but they are all extremely inspiring, genuine and highly intelligent people.
  • I adore all the women involved in TWIN and I’ve formed some fast friendships. Please hang out with us on Twitter under the #ToyotaWomen hashtag. We all have very different blogs and interest so we will all be blogging and chatting about very different topics! Check out Tech Savvy Mama’s TWIN Camp 9 Facts post , Zensible Mama talks about Toyota Culture and Lisa over at A Daily Pinch who recaps TWIN Camp.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity and learning about Toyota’s corporate structure. I’ve also loved connecting with those of you who are proud Toyota owners who can echo what Toyota is trying to accomplish.


Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I was given Toyota branded items at the TWIN camp as well as gifts. My travel expenses were covered for attending the TWIN Camp.  I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.

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It’s Girl Scout cookie season and philanthropy is fresh in my mind right now. I always become inspired by my girls in their cookie selling efforts and the ways they want to use that money to give back to their community.

It’s not just about cookies! It is about teaching my Scouts to understand business practices, profits, budgets and balancing the fun things we do with our earnings as well as service projects.

More often than not the focus is on how to help others with that money we earn. It is inspiring.

My daughter regularly thanks her cookie purchasers for assisting her in making a difference.

My daughter told me last year that she wants to be a business woman so she can make a lot of money to give to those who need it. That has been a huge topic since then. She understands what a sponsorship is and how large and small companies give money to organizations in needs.

She wanted to learn about companies that do this and why. We have done a lot of research and learned a lot together. Okay, we are a little strange I suppose. These are the things that we bond over.

When I was introduced deeper to Toyota which is launching their second 100 Cars for Good Campaign and when I told her about it she said, “See, that’s what I want to do! How many cookies do we need to sell to give someone a Toyota car?”

The ambitious gleam in her eye was wonderful and scary! I explained that we could do a lot but maybe buying someone a car would be out of our cookie range at the moment!

In 100 Days Toyota gives 100 cars to 100 charitable organizations.

That is a whole bunch of cars!

You can read more on their FAQ page. I’m going to quote part of it because I found it really powerful.

“Toyota believes that motor vehicles, and the mobility they provide, can also be vehicles for change to contribute to the betterment of society.”

On March 12th they will open the flood gates for applications and will close submissions on March 26th or until they reach 5,000. On May 12th everyone who visits Toyota’s Facebook page can help vote for the winners! Even if I can’t give someone a car it is rewarding to spread the word about this and be a part of the voting process.

Please take the time to watch the video. Share this if it motivates you and please be a part of it. And I will take a lesson from my daughter and say:

Thank you to all Toyota owners. Supporting this company makes a difference in all of our communities and I am very appreciative of that.

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.