Distracted driving comes in many forms, ranging from changing a radio station, to having a conversation with someone in the vehicle, to texting or talking on a mobile device. The National Safety Council reports two out of three teens admit they use apps when driving. They also report that 27% of teens admit to texting while driving.
Teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to experience a crash or near crash when talking or texting on a cell phone. Research shows, in terms of distracted driving, that of all the potential tasks related to cell phones, including talking, dialing, or simply reaching for the phone, texting while driving is the most dangerous.
What Can We Do as Parents?
It is very important for parents to be a good model for their kids. Although this advice may seem old-fashioned, parents who follow it will raise far more respectful and responsible kids. In a recent survey, 40% of teens in the U.S. say they have been in a car while the driver was using a cell phone in an unsafe manner. Here are three important questions that all parents must ask of themselves:
- Am I using my phone while driving?
- Do I control my phone, or does my phone control me?
- Have I admitted to my teen that I can't ensure that they survive?
The first two questions are simple and straightforward to answer. As we all know, actions speak louder than words. Children get their first driving lessons as soon as they reach the size allowing forward-facing car safety seats. Kids rarely develop better self-control than the self-control they see possessed by their parents.
The answer to the final question is less obvious, yet extremely important. Do our teens know that their lives depend on the quality of their own decisions? Or have we led them to believe that we can somehow rescue them from every poor choice they make?
Parent: “Do you think I can make sure that you don’t make a deadly decision behind the wheel? Such as drinking and driving, or texting while driving?”
Teen: “What do you mean? I guess not.”
Parent: “You’re right. As much as I wish that I could always keep you from making a tragic mistake, who is the one making the decision?”
This is just one challenge that parents face with cell phone use by teens. In our audio, Teens and Technology, we provide practical strategies for navigating the challenges of parenting in the digital age. These include strategies for helping kids make good decisions about cell phones and their proper use.
Thanks for reading!