Like oil and water, driving and cell phone use don’t mix – particularly if you’re a teen.
An estimated 421,000 people were injured in vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, according to Distraction.gov. For teens, the statistics were even more frightening – 21% of drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted by a cell phone.
The tragedy is that many may have been prevented if the drivers would have had their full attention on the road.
Distractions while driving
Most of us equate distracted driving to cell phone chatting or texting, but there are other driving distractions:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player
Parents can help reduce distractions their teenage drivers may encounter.
No passengers in the car
Teens get in more accidents when other teens are in their vehicles. In fact, putting 3 or more teens in a car driven by a teen increases the chances of an accident 4 times.
Don’t allow your teen to drive other teens or ride as a passenger with other teens until they have had at least a year of driving experience with a license.
No cell phones while driving
Teens are the most likely drivers to use cell phones or send text messages while driving – even though they have the least experience behind the wheel.
Regardless of your state laws, parents should prohibit their teens from using cell phones while driving. If your teen must use a cell phone, they should park the vehicle in a safe place first – and complete the call before driving again.
Limit music use
Changing the radio station or playing music loudly also is a distraction. Encourage your young driver to select a single CD, radio station or list of songs on their MP3 player – and leave it there.
Help your teen understand the importance of keeping volume at a reasonable level – so he or she can hear car horns and emergency vehicles.
You can help make our roads safer and prevent accidents by making a commitment to avoid distractions while driving.
For more information about teenage distracted driving, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.