Did you know that each day, about 8 people in the United States are killed in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver? The definition of distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. This can be eating, drinking, texting or even as simple as talking to passengers. The risk is even higher for inexperienced drivers which includes our teens. (Plus, distracted driving is one of the most underreported issues since it is hard to determine if a driver was distracted after a crash... so these numbers could be much higher!)
Most parents show widespread agreement that texting, talking on a cell phone, using social media or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are dangerous activities for someone to do while driving. So what can parents do to help their teen on the road?
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association encourages parents to reinforce five necessary rules that teen drivers need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel in a car, truck, or SUV. Sit your teen down and talk to them (multiple times!) about the rules of the road.
Set a good example by never driving after drinking. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix, no matter your age.
Every Trip. Every Time. Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time. This includes all passengers they are responsible for in the front and back.
Remind (and remind, and remind) your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. Have them make their phone off-limits when they are on the road. But remember that distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use. Discuss other dangers such as passengers, vehicle controls, and eating or drinking while driving. These are all dangerous distractions for teen drivers.
Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially teens. Do not exceed the speed limit and require your teen to do the same. Every time your speed doubles, your stopping distance quadruples. Also, speeding can lead to road rage and rash moves which endangers everyone on the road.
With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. Check your State’s GDL law before your teen takes to the road; it may prohibit any passengers in vehicles with teen drivers.Sources: PCIAA.net, CDC.gov