Parents are known to worry endlessly about their children from the moment they are born. When a teen starts driving, that round-the-clock worrying does nothing but intensify. Between the fear that teens are not yet confident drivers to the anxiety surrounding them driving with friends in the car, there’s no shortage of things to stress over when a teen gets behind the wheel. Thankfully, as parents, there are certain things to be done in order to prevent one of the largest teen driving issues: texting and driving.
Texting and driving is not a subject to be taken lightly. In fact, each day, 11 teens die as a result. Furthermore, an AAA poll reveals that 94 percent of teen drivers acknowledge the vast dangers of texting and driving, 35 percent of those polled admitted to still committing the act. This is a topic that certainly cannot be ignored by parents when they’re instilling safe driving habits in their teens.
To help ensure that the issue does not go unaddressed, read on to learn how to prevent texting and driving for new, teen drivers.
Lead by Example
While it’s likely a tip you’ve heard before, leading by example is an important part of preventing your children not to text and drive. While 20 percent of teens state that they have extended, multi-message text conversation while behind the wheel, 10 percent of parents cite the same to be true for themselves. If your kids see you practicing this bad behavior, they’re more likely to believe it to be okay to do themselves.
To ensure that you’re setting a positive example for your new driver, create and stick to a rule of keeping your phone tucked away any time you’re in the car. Leave it in your bag, place it in the center console, or even shut it in the glove compartment when you’re on the road. This sends a clear message that you’re committed to not using or even thinking about your phone while you’re driving. For best results, put your phone somewhere out of sight and where you can’t hear any alerts. Remember and apply the idea of, “out of sight, out of mind”. If your kiddo sees you practicing this habit, they’re more likely to take the same approach when they’re driving.
Be Open About Potential Consequences
Especially for teenagers, it can be difficult to grasp the seriousness that accompanies the potential consequences of distracted driving. Although it’s a tough topic to broach, have an open and honest conversation with your new driver surrounding the potential consequences of committing the dangerous act of texting and driving. Root this conversation in facts, such as the following:
- One out of every four traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. are caused by cell phone usage.
- Texting while driving increases the chance of a crash by 23 times, even if it’s caused by another driver.
- If a crash occurs as a result of distracted driving and another driver or passenger involved is killed or seriously injured, more serious criminal charges could be pressed against the driver that caused the crash.
- Approximately 421,000 people each year are injured in crashes involving distracted driving.
- More than 330,000 crashes caused by texting and driving lead to severe injuries on a yearly basis.
Besides sharing the cold, hard facts surrounding this topic with your teen, you’ll also want to drive home the potential consequences by sharing real-life stories of texting and driving crashes and tragedies. The U.S. Department of Transportation has dedicated an entire page on their site to sharing these stories in the hopes of discouraging this deadly habit. Reading these testimonials with your kids can leave a long-lasting impression and may really hit home for your teen.
Focus by TeenDrive
Focus by TeenDrive is a smartphone app that works in conjunction with a driving beacon to help keep kids safe behind the wheel. A “driving beacon” is a small bluetooth device that automatically detects when a teen is in the car.
This beacon is responsible for placing a teen’s phone in “driving mode”. When this occurs, the messages app on the smartphone is hidden so that messages will not be received and they cannot be sent. This mode also hides notifications from social media apps and cuts off all apps that require an internet connection.
While incoming and outgoing calls are allowed while a phone is in this mode in case of an emergency, this app is effective in keeping kids off of popular apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook and it totally disables texting, diminishing much of the temptation for them to even touch their phone while they’re behind the wheel. These features give parents complete peace of mind regarding the safety of their new driver, knowing that while their car is in motion, their smartphone is practically disabled.
Working to prevent texting and driving in teen drivers is an important part of keeping them safe each and every time they get behind the wheel. It’s been said that America is suffering from a distracted driving “epidemic”, but taking these measures to teach your new driver safe driving habits aids in the war against this major issue.