Distracted driving can have disastrous or deadly consequences, and it’s particularly prevalent, and the effects are especially devastating among younger age groups. Teen drivers are more likely to engage in distracted driving, meaning parents may be the first line of defense against it.
Parents sometimes think they’re not going to be able to influence their teen’s driving behaviors or stop them from driving dangerously, but that’s not necessarily the case. Parents play more of a role in the behaviors of their teens than they might think.
The first thing parents can do is understand distracted driving and the risks it can present. When you’re armed with information, you can make a more compelling point to your teen. For example, do you know that using a hand-held GPS is reported as distracted driving in some states?
Distracted driving can also include things like eating and putting on makeup behind the wheel, and a few states even have laws banning these activities while driving.
The following are some other relevant things to know about teens and distracted driving, as well as ways you can help prevent it for your teen.
Distracted Driving Statistics
There are hundreds of thousands of injuries every year that are the result of distracted driving and in particular, texting and driving.
It’s estimated that one in four accidents in the U.S. is caused by texting and driving, and perhaps even more astounding is the fact that texting while driving is six times more likely to lead to an accident even than driving while drunk.
If your teen is driving while distracted and in particular, driving while texting, it can make it hard for them to react to a situation appropriately, and that can ultimately lead to a crash. This is especially true for teens who are inexperienced drivers.
A few other relevant statistics include:
- In 2017, there were 3,166 fatalities linked to distracted driving, and it’s believed many others are unreported
- Around 40% of high school students said they texted or emailed while driving during the past month in a 2017 survey
- Teen drivers receive the majority of phone calls from their parents
- Distraction was the main factor in 58% of automobile crashes with drivers between the ages of 16 to 19
Understanding the Laws
Something that both you and your teen need to have an understanding of is that distracted driving isn’t just a safety issue. It’s a legal issue.
Distracted driving can result in fines, and it may also cause your teen to lose their license, so you should reinforce to them that their driving privileges could be out the window if they don’t follow distracted driving laws.
Teens appreciate the freedom of driving, and it’s an important rite of passage, so this may resonate more than telling them safety statistics.
Almost all states have pretty rigorous laws in place regarding the use of mobile devices behind the wheel and distracted driving. Go over these laws and the penalties for not following them with your teen, and also check to see if your local jurisdiction has even more laws on the books that will apply.
Dozens of states have a hand-held phone ban for all drivers, and in 39 states, newer and less experienced drivers are banned from all cell phone use when they’re behind the wheel.
Washington was the first state to ban texting while driving back in 2007, and now texting while driving is banned in 48 states.
All but three states have what’s called primary enforcement, which means police can issue a ticket for texting while driving without any other offense occurring.
Graduated Driver Licensing provisions or GDL have their own restrictions regarding texting while driving and distracted driving, and most states also have laws in place as far as how many passengers a novice driver can have in the car with them. Passengers can also be a form of distracted driving.
Tools and Technology to Prevent Distracted Driving
Along with helping teens understand the repercussions of distracted driving, equip your teen with tools and technology that will make it easier for them. For example, if your teen needs to use a GPS, maybe get them a holder that suctions to the windshield so that they can see without looking down.
If your teen has an older car that doesn’t have Bluetooth capability, you can get them a cable system so they can connect their phone to their car if they need to.
There are apps that can help prevent distracted driving as well, and there are some apps that you can use to get paid for not driving while distracted.
Examples include the Canary app, which can alert you of when there’s texting or internet use behind the wheel. You can also set up the app so that you get alerts if the driver is going over a certain limit, and you can see where the phone is location-wise.
Another cool tech tool your family can use to combat distracted driving is Glympse. Glympse syncs with the computer of your car and displays information on your dashboard, so you don’t have to look down.
Cellcontrol works with a car’s Bluetooth system, and it automatically prevents drivers from using the phone if their car is in motion.
Technology-wise, iZup is an app that will hold all of your communications, including texts and emails while you’re driving, but it does allow access to 911.
Finally, as a parent, one of the most important and often underrated things you can do to help prevent your teen from driving while distracted is be a good example.
Teens are looking at you and seeing what you’re doing, even when you don’t think they are.
If you’re frequently eating behind the wheel and responding to work emails, your teen is likely to see it as a harmless behavior.
Show your teen how important it is to remain distraction-free by doing it yourself, and they’re more likely to follow suit.