According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is responsible for approximately 3,000 deaths per year. Anyone can be guilty of texting while driving, but this problem is especially prevalent among teens and young adults. In fact, traffic collisions, many of which are caused by some form of distraction, are a leading cause of death for teens. Why is texting and driving so dangerous? Texting requires your visual, mental, and physical focus – all of which should be 100% focused on the road ahead. When the eyes, brain, and hands are engaged with a cell phone for only four seconds at freeway speeds, the driver can cover the length of a football field without looking at the road. This increases a person’s risk of causing a car accident by an astounding 2,300% – a risk that is even higher than drunk driving. Kelley/Uustal encourages to you talk to your teens about these dangers and to have them take the pledge not to text and drive. Here is a list of tips to help your teen driver stick to this commitment:
- Watch your teen’s driving habits. If your teen is engaging in distracted driving behaviors when you are in the car with them, they are certainly behaving the same way when you aren’t around. Be sure to address these concerns as soon as you witness them.
- Set a good example. If you text and drive as a parent, you can’t reasonably expect your teen not to do the same. Set the example so that you have grounds to enforce your expectations.
- Enforce the rules. If you catch your teen texting and driving, follow through by taking away their keys.
- Make the phone unreachable. If you notice that your teen finds the distraction too tempting, have them put their phone in a place where they can’t reach it while driving, such as the back seat or the trunk.
- Make it clear that texting at stoplights is not safe. Many teens may feel as though texting while stopped at an intersection is okay, but the truth is that intersections are the most dangerous part of a person’s drive. Texting at any time on the road is illegal and unsafe.
- Talk about the consequences. Remind your teen that it is not worth the risk of a crash to text behind the wheel. Their conversation can wait and is never worth dying for.