How To Talk To Your Teen About The Consequences Of Texting And Driving
Out of the 1.6 million automobile accidents that happen annually, nearly 25% of them are caused by distracted driving.
In another era, distracted driving might have meant digging around for a tape or CD, lighting a cigarette, or turning around to talk to a friend. The recent spike in these kinds of accidents are the consequences of texting and driving.
Parents with teens of driving age certainly think about this problem. Teens are spending upward of 12 hours a day on their mobile devices. Most parents have probably tried (and failed) to get their teens to cut back on their mobile device usage.
Whether parents are worried about their teen’s safety, the condition of their vehicle, insurance rates, or a combination, texting is a risk they don’t want to take.
The risk of an accident spikes exponentially when teens text and drive. If you’re having trouble discussing the consequences of texting and driving with your teen, try these 5 tips for more accountability.
1. Be An Example
Parents who’ve picked up the habit of using your phone while they drive need to break that habit ASAP. When parents text, their kids are watching. Half of all teens have seen adults text while driving.
If their role models are doing it, who should they look up to?
Just like observing rules of the road and always using a seatbelt, parents can reinforce good habits by setting the tone. If a car has a system that allows for verbal text reading, set that system up and show teens how to use it.
If there’s an instance where parents need to make a call or text, they should pull over. Parents should turn off notifications while driving. Knowing a text is coming in is too much of a temptation.
2. Speak Honestly
Treating teens like adults will gain you their respect and is more likely to lead them to heed your advice. Having a conversation with a teen can be difficult. Between eye-rolling and more texting, teens might not think the conversation is very serious.
This means that parents might have to have that conversation more than once, making it a repetitive refrain.
Being open and honest, both about the parent’s own faults with distracted driving is important. Parents should avoid making excuses, and be frank about the consequences of texting and driving.
Werner Herzog’s “From One Second To The Next” is a great example of an honest conversation about what can happen when texting while driving.
Conversations need to occur before an accident happens. Having the conversation after can come across as an opportunity to blame them.
3. Make Them Responsible For Insurance
A great way to get teens to understand insurance is to make them pay it. If they have an after-school job, they should chip into the insurance.
This will open them up to talking about insurance rates and how they can be affected by accidents caused by distracted driving. Teens can grasp the clear distinction between higher and lower rates.
This also gives parents an opportunity to discuss liability and collision insurance and why they should never lapse in their payments.
While texting and driving is illegal in almost every one of the 50 states, this hasn’t clued everyone into the consequences of texting while driving.
As pedestrian traffic increases in cities around the country and more places become accommodating to bike traffic, there are lots of reasons for teens to not look away from the rad. Being at fault for hitting a biker or a pedestrian can cause not only high rates but also PTSD and harm to others.
4. Store Phones Away
While parents can talk to teens until they’re blue in the face, they might need to take other measures. With phones sitting beside them, teens will be constantly tempted to check them.
Turning it on silent (no vibrations) and placing it in the back seat or a back pocket of a seat is an easy solution. Teens will feel uncomfortable, as most have formed relationships with their phone. It will add perspective to their addiction and hopefully break their habits.
Don’t let them check for phones at stop lights or stop signs, as accidents can still happen. They can let go of the pedal even slightly and hit someone crossing in front of them.
Putting the phone away is a surefire way to keep them from encountering the negative consequences of texting and driving.
5. Use Technology
There are apps now that will disable phones from being able to unlock while the phone is moving.
AT&T DriveMode is one possible option. When phones move 15 mph, they are silenced. They can also be set up with parental alerts to let parents know that the mode has been disabled.
While these apps are still in their experimental phase, they are sure to lead to better safety features in the near future.
Parents should remind teens that using these free apps and feeling temporarily inconvenienced is a small price to pay to avoid the consequences of texting and driving. Making good decisions now will pay off later, helping them to avoid higher insurance and even court fees.
Avoid the Consequences of Texting and Driving
In order for parents to teach teens about the dangers of distracted driving, they will need to be diligent. There won’t be one big conversation. There will be several conversations and reminders.
As technology has changed the lives of a generation, parents need to be patient with their teens if they still exhibit distracted driving habits. They should be encouraging and positive toward their teens while remaining firm.
If you have other questions about the problems that distracted driving could bring, feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to talk to you about the dangers of texting while driving.
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