Teens' inexperience behind the wheel makes them more susceptible to distraction behind the wheel. One in three teens who texts say he or she has done so while driving. Is your teen one of them? Dialing a phone while driving increases your teen's risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times. Talking or texting on the phone takes your teen's focus off the task of driving, and makes their reaction time similar to that of a 70-year-old driver who is not using a phone.
What can you do?
- Talk to your teen about the rules and responsibilities involved in
driving. Share some stories and statistics related to teen drivers
and distracted driving. Remind your teen often that driving is a skill
that requires full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait until arriving
at his or her destination.
- Familiarize yourself with your State's graduated licensing program, if there is one, and enforce its guidelines for your teen. Create your own rules if necessary. Restricting the number of passengers your teen can have, or the hours your teen can drive, is a very effective way to minimize distraction for your teen driver. Talk about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your State's penalties for talking or texting on a phone while driving.
- Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Kids learn from watching their parents.
Bottom line: Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. All the time.