Most parents already know the data: Driving while drinking is statistically just as dangerous as distracted driving, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car crashes kill more teens each year than anything else. But parents aren’t the only ones familiar with the numbers. It turns out their teenage children are just as well-versed in the dangers of distracted driving. It also turns out, however, that knowing the data and doing something about it are completely different stories when it comes to most teens behind the wheel.
Newly published research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that even though teens are familiar with the facts, they consistently engage with their phones while driving. Why? It may be a manner of semantics. While many teens will deny “texting while driving,” they will admit to taking photos, checking in on social media and other online activities that may not necessarily qualify as “texting.”
This is also interesting: The kind of in-bound communication also impacts the likelihood of whether a teen will respond back when driving. A random friend sends a text? That might not generate a response. A close friend or love interest posts an update on Facebook? Cue the instant response! And all of these behaviors become even more dangerous when the driver is in the company of peers are in the car.
So How do we fix this problem?
Turn All Devices Of When in the Car
Set an example for your kids and turn your phone OFF anytime you enter the car. Have your kids turn their phones off as well on short trips. Make it a habit for yourself and family early on and it will be more likely to stay with your kids as they get older.
If They Get a Ticket, Make Them Pay For It
Most states have laws against cell phone use by drivers, and law enforcement is well within their right to pull you over and give you a ticket you have been caught using a cellphone behind the wheel. If this happens to your teen, make sure they understand the full extent of their wrongdoing and make them pay for the ticket themselves. If they don’t have the money for the ticket, make them work it off around the house.
Also let them know that if they ever do get a ticket for texting and driving, that they are paying for it themselves. The thought of a fine eating into the money they were saving for a new computer or Xbox would be a good deterrent.
Consider Getting an App to Help with Distracted Driving
If you want to take things to the next level, consider getting an app that helps to prevent your teen from texting and driving. Forcefield provides a Safe Driving app that limits the distractions for teen drivers. For more resources on texting and driving check here.