The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there are more than 660,000 distracted drivers on the road at any given moment during daylight hours. With so many drivers not paying attention to the road, this creates an incredibly unsafe environment for everyone.
Based on statistics like these, it’s not hard to see why parents are so concerned about their teen drivers. Fortunately, there are a number of ways for parents to get involved to prevent distracted driving in their community. Here’s how:
Start the Conversation
Parents need to initiate the conversation about distracted driving with their teens. Explain why it’s so important for teens to pay attention to the road when they are behind the wheel. To get your point across, inform your teens of the consequences of distracted driving. For example, your teen will probably be shocked to find out that over 391,000 people are injured in distracted driving injuries every year.
Another approach would be showing them informational and impactful videos on the dangers of distracted driving. The NHTSA has a series of videos on their website that highlight tragic distracted driving stories. Use these resources to your advantage so your teens clearly understand what could happen if they choose to drive distracted.
Create A Safe Driving Contract
Now that teens know the dangers of distracted driving, it’s important for parents to set expectations. Put these expectations in writing by creating a safe driving contract with your teen. This contract should outline what your teen should and should not do while behind the wheel. For example, the contract should include statements such as “I promise to always keep my eyes on the road” or “I promise to never text while I’m driving.” Be sure to also include the consequences for violating one of the terms of the contract. Since teens are already familiar with the dangers of distracted driving, they should understand why this contract is necessary.
Creating a contract together will force your teen to learn what you expect from them when they are on the road. This should show your teen that you are serious about enforcing the rules–and the consequences for breaking them.
Be A Good Role Model
Teens will not take their safe driving contract seriously unless their parents practice what they preach. Do you text while driving? Are you constantly staring down at your phone when you should be looking at the road? Teens are watching your every move. In a recent survey, three-quarters of teens said they have seen their parents use their phones while behind the wheel, and 50% of these teens have asked their parents to stop. Even after they are reminded to stop, parents often continue to engage in this dangerous behavior. Twenty-eight percent of teens said their parents will even try to justify why they need to use their cell phones when they are reminded to focus on the road! If your teen sees you engaging in these behaviors, he will assume it’s perfectly fine for him to drive distracted as well.
Be a good role model by focusing solely on the road when your teen is in the car. Make it a point to turn your phone on silent and put away all distractions before starting the car so your teen knows how important it is for you to stay focused. Basically, parents should make an effort to be the driver that they want their teens to be.
Download Distracted Driving Apps
Make sure your teens are following the rules by monitoring their driving with a little help from a distracted driving app. There are countless apps that are designed to help teens avoid common distractions such as incoming calls and texts so they focus solely on the road.
TeenSafe will be coming out with a new app later in 2018 that will revolutionize how parents can help their teen stop distracted driving. Unlike other apps, parents will have control of a teen using the app–the teen won’t be able to turn it off.
Sponsor A School
At this point, your teen should understand the importance of staying focused while behind the wheel. Now, parents should focus on making sure other teens in the community understand this message as well.
Impact Teen Drivers is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching teens across the country about the dangers of distracted driving. But unfortunately, many schools still do not have access to the Impact Teen Drivers program. Parents who want to prevent distracted driving in their community should consider sponsoring a local school. Impact Teen Drivers will send resource packets to the sponsored school to ensure every teen is educated on the do’s and don’ts of driving safety.
It costs $500 to sponsor a school, but parents don’t have to pay this all on their own. Feel free to ask other parents in the community to contribute or to host a fundraiser at your teen’s school to get more people involved. This is something that everyone will benefit from, so they should be more than happy to contribute to the cause.
Educate the Community
Why stop at educating other teens in the community? Parents can also get involved in efforts to help adults stay focused on the road as well. Unlike Impact Teen Drivers, the End Distracted Driving organization is aimed at educating both teens and adults on the dangers of distracted driving. Parents can help this organization with their mission by connecting with them to host an educational presentation. Visit the End Distracted Driving website to request an educational presentation at your school, business, church, community group, or PTA meeting. This is a great way to help both drivers of all ages understand why they need to avoid distracted driving. Requesting one of these presentations can have a huge impact on your community, so this is a simple way to make a big difference.
A lot of parents focus solely on how they can stop their teens from driving while distracted. But, if parents really want to keep their kids safe on the road, they have to focus on prevention both inside and outside of their homes. The fewer distracted drivers there are on the roads, the safer the entire community will be!