7 More Deadly Sins Of Distracted Driving

distracted driving

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Cell phone use while driving can lead to many costly hazards, ranging from minor and serious injuries to fatalities, and the young are particularly prone due to their inexperience.

In fact, according to distraction.gov, an estimated 421,000 people are injured in some form each year with 21 percent of automobile-related fatalities in the 15 to 19 age bracket coming as a result of young people being distracted by a cell phone.

Most, if not all, these distractions can be prevented with more awareness and a greater commitment to paying attention while driving.

But while we all know the biggest causes of distracted driving — at least as far as cell phones are concerned — there are actually seven additional “deadly sins” that teens may be overlooking. According to Nationwide Insurance, they are:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

While some of these are never a good idea to do while driving, others — such as reading maps or using a navigation system — are having the opposite effect for which they were originally intended. And while cutting edge systems like Apple CarPlay are seeking to change that with listening and voice dictation functions, we’re still clearly not “there” as a society of motorists.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the abysmal statistics demonstrated by teen drivers.


What Can Parents Do To Fix It?

First things first: you should continue to “sound like a broken record.” Just because your kids may be a tad annoyed by what you have to say, that doesn’t mean it won’t stick. In my own experience, I probably forgot 90 percent of what my mom and dad told me throughout my childhood, but one of the few things I remember was this little gem: “Be careful. And watch out for the other guy.” In this brief statement, my dad got it across to me that driving carefully was important, and that while he trusted me to a point, mistakes do happen and you can’t assume drivers next to you will be as attune to their surroundings as you may or may not be. The fact he said it ALL THE TIME made it sink in, despite the fact that I’d roll my eyes every time I heard it.

Next, set specific rules for driving behavior. Some popular ones, according to Nationwide, include “No passengers in the car” and “No cell phones while driving.” While that’s easy to police when you’re with your child, it’s tougher when they’re driving solo. That’s why trust is so important and why you should make sure to…

Practice what you preach. You can’t expect your kids to learn good things from your bad examples. The truth is, while adults are, for the most part, better at distracted driving, the simple act that you’re doing it in front of them, tells them it’s okay to do it no matter what helpful advice (or commands) are coming out of your mouth. Kids learn a lot more from example than they do from verbal communication, specifically where their parents are concerned.

Finally, encourage responsible music listening. In a recent blog post, Nationwide said that changing radio stations or playing music too loudly are overlooked distractions. “Encourage your young driver to select a single CD, radio station or list of songs on their MP3 player – and leave it there,” the post explained. “Help your teen understand the importance of keeping volume at a reasonable level – so he or she can hear car horns and emergency vehicles.”


In Summary

The message that teens should not use cell phones for texting or phone calls while operating a moving vehicle is a good one, but clearly, it leaves out a lot of important directives when it comes to defeating distracted driving altogether. By continuing to reinforce good habits through words and demonstration, establishing bonds of trust with your child, and setting clear expectations, you can help make sure they don’t end up another unfortunate statistic.

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