Many teenagers have embraced cell phones and texting for communication. Approximately 75 percent of all teenagers text with a cell phone, and a typical day involves 60 text messages for an average teenager, according to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey. If you combine teenage driving and teenage texting, the result can be catastrophic. Discuss the dangers of texting and driving with your teenager so she understands how to stay safe.
Define distracted driving for your teenager to explain the issues. Distracted driving involves operating a vehicle while doing something else that pulls attention away from driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The distracting activities could include texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, setting GPS equipment, reading a map, fixing hair or changing the radio channel, according to Pennsylvania law firm Edgar Snyder & Associates.
Provide some statistics to your teenager to help her understand the importance of avoiding distractions while driving. More than 5,400 people died in car accidents as a result of distracted driving and approximately 448,000 people suffered injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these fatalities and injuries, almost 1,000 fatalities and 24,00 injuries involved the use of a cell phone, according to the CDC.
Talk about why texting is dangerous with your teenager. Not only does the action of texting involve hands, which could affect driving, but it also pulls the eyes away from driving. Texting also involves a cognitive process, which can create a significant distraction for drivers.
Explain laws in force that regulate cell phone use and texting while driving. While no national laws about cell phone use are in place, 10 states prohibit all drivers from using cell phones while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. In addition, 33 states and the District of Columbia prohibit cell phone while driving by novice drivers, and 39 states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting by all drivers. This information is accurate as of March 2013.
Mention peer activities to ensure that your teen realizes that any texting-while-driving activities engaged in by peers is risky and perilous. Ensure that your teenager realizes it’s important not to follow the example set by peers if she sees or knows of peers texting while driving.
Set a positive example with your own driving. Eliminate distractions while you drive, especially cell phone use, so your teenager sees you practicing safe driving.
Institute a no-texting-while-driving rule for your teenager. Insist that your teenager abide by your safety rule at all times. Give your teen a specific and clear consequence for breaking this rule: loss of driving privileges and loss of her cell phone, perhaps. Tell your teen that if you ever learn or have reason to believe that she is breaking this rule, you will follow-through with the promised consequence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that parental involvement and enforcement of texting and driving rules is instrumental in keeping a teenager safe.
- Pew Research Center: Teens, Smartphones & Texting
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: No Texting Behind the Wheel
- Edgar Snyder & Associates: Cell Phone & Texting Accident Statistics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Distracted Driving
- Governors Highway Safety Association: Cell Phone and Texting Laws
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