2014 Winner: Tim Hollister

Award
Peter K. ORourke Special Achievement Awards
Tim Hollister

 

Tim Hollister of Hartford, Connecticut, is a parent, author and advocate. He has taken an unthinkable personal tragedy and channeled it into an unrelenting drive to save other parents from the same fate. An environmental lawyer by day, in his spare time he has become a tireless advocate for safer teen driving.

Tim lost his 17-year-old son Reid in a crash in 2006. He parlayed his grief into action, serving on a Connecticut task force that crafted the state’s overhaul of its GDL law, transforming it from among the most lenient in the nation to one of the strongest. When the task force and legislature finished its work, Tim kept going.

His participation on the task force taught him that he had not been a well-informed parent when he supervised Reid’s driving, and that much of the literature available to parents doesn’t explain why teen driving is so dangerous or what parents can do to before their teens get behind the wheel to prevent the most dangerous situations from occurring. Tim spent two years studying how better information could be delivered to parents of teen drivers.

In 2009, Tim launched his national blog for parents of teen drivers, “From Reid’s Dad.” In nearly five years of publication, this blog has become a go-to source for parents, driving schools, traffic safety organizations, and law enforcement. Tim has spoken on the topic at countless events, from local meetings to national conferences. His readership experienced phenomenal growth and, in 2011, several organizations approached Tim about turning his best blog posts into a book. The result is NOT SO FAST: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, published September 2013.

As Tim often says in his presentations, safe teen driving has three parts: driving skills, GDL laws and parenting. Tim’s blog and book provide in-depth focus on the parenting aspect. Through his research he has identified that much of the information available to parents focuses on teaching a teen to drive a vehicle instead of preventive steps that parents can take before their teen gets behind the wheel. The book is endorsed by Allan Williams, former chief scientist of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who calls the book “evidence-based, sensible advice for parents.”

NOT SO FAST covers a vast array of topics, including delayed brain development, parent attitudes, when teens should start driving, purposeful driving vs. joyriding, negotiating a parent-teen driving agreement, how to handle car keys, how to control passengers, how to manage curfews, how to use traffic tickets as teaching moments, controlling texting and electronic devices, whether teens should use a GPS, using tracking technology with teens, supervising other people’s teens, what schools can do, and challenges of single parent and non-English speaking households. The book collects a vast array of essential safety information and makes it easily accessible to parents.

What may be most remarkable about his research, blog and public appearances is that Tim did all the work himself, on his own time and with no outside financial help. While he often describes himself as “just a Dad with a keyboard,” his work has been recognized with numerous speaking invitations and awards, including NHSTA’s Public Service Award, presented to him at the 2010 Lifesavers Conference.

Tim not only has not received outside funding for his work, he has spent countless hours and his own funds pursuing his safe teen driving mission. His attendance at national and regional conferences has been entirely at his expense. In addition, the proceeds of NOT SO FAST are benefiting his son’s memorial fund, which helps low-income families with costs of toddler and infant education, as well as several national traffic safety programs.

Since the book came out, Tim continues to be a regular speaker at national and regional conferences and community events.

Contact Tim at thollister@goodwin.com or 860-251-5601.