We all know that it’s illegal, in most places, to text and / or talk on a cell phone while driving. Distracted driving causes accidents and in some cases, it even kills. Texting, talking on the phone, and doing other activities while driving a vehicle causes serious accidents to the tune of thousands of lives lost per year. Driving should be a mono task, not something that’s multi-tasked and if you’re not focused on driving alone you are as dangerous as drunk drivers.
Statistics in a recent Consumer Reports survey point to awareness making a big difference. While a fraction of people under the age of thirty surveyed were concerned about distracted driving, almost 80% of survey respondents said that awareness of dangers or becoming acquainted with a tragedy involving distracted driving resulted in changes to their behavior.
Awareness is a vital ingredient to ending distracted driving and that is what End Distracted Driving is about. It might not be enough to simply remind your kids that distracted driving is a bad idea. You might want to take bigger steps to make sure that your kids are focused only on driving when they’re behind the wheel. Here are a few suggestions for making sure that mono tasking is a priority when your teen takes the wheel:
Safe Driving Contract and Best Practice
Enddd.org has a safe driving pledge sheet, for example, and Cell Limit 0 offers stories about distracted driving that will raise awareness. Get your teen to sign a contract stating they won’t use a cell phone while driving is a good idea. You can extend that to other rules about speeding and other safety areas. Contracts can make indelible impressions, especially if there is a consequence to the teen not following that contract. You might also have your son or daughter call you from their destination after they’ve arrived, saving you from calling or texting to ask if they’re ok. Quite often, when teens are on the phone while driving, it’s because their parent is checking in.
Tell your teen that their cell phone needs to be turned off while they’re driving. Placing it in the back seat and turning the ringer off (or even putting it in the trunk) might be what’s needed to avoid temptation to answer a call or peek at a text.
Limit Teen Passengers
It isn’t just cell phones that are to blame for 5500 deaths in 2009 caused by distracted driving. All sorts of distractions could cause driver error and result in accidents. Parents can and should set ground rules around their teens’ driving and limiting passengers your teen can travel with is smart. If you limit their number of passengers to 1, especially when they’re a new driver, you’re reducing the chance of distraction. If your teen is driving several teens around, there are greater chances of distraction through antics happening in the car. Don’t hesitate to tell your teen, a passenger, that they shouldn’t be a passenger with several friends and that they shouldn’t accept rides from friends who drive distracted as well.
Sending teens to safety courses for driving will do more than lower the rates on your car insurance. Those classes will help your teen with safe driving skills. Trainers place emphasis on the importance of safe and defensive driving and will make sure that students understand the importance of focus and concentration. Most driving school courses show videos and graphic images of what can happen when safety and focus isn’t a priority and those images can be even more indelible than a contract!
Be as available as possible to your kids when they’re out with the car. Lead by example with your own safe driving practices and tell your kids that if they’re tired, upset, if a friend who’s supposed to drive has been drinking, or the weather conditions are poor that they should not hesitate to contact you for help getting home.
Enddd.org continually works to promote safe driving and reduce distracted driving through awareness campaigns. Joel Feldman, father of Casey Feldman who was killed after being hit by a distracted driver, recently presented at The Leigh Valley Health Networks to raise awareness and reduce distracted driving. The results: drivers reported that they’ve changed their driving behaviors. How can you take action? Inform your kids and visit https://www.enddd.org/get-action-alerts/ to find out what else you can do to keep the roads safer for your family.