Back-To-School Reminder: Parents, Your Kids Are Probably Texting While Driving!
If ever there was a dead horse that needed flogging, it’s the one that bears the name “texting while driving.” While outreach is at an all-time high and most kids are well aware of the dangers, teens are still more likely to do it than not. (Blame the inexperience.) Unfortunately, many adults are guilty, too.
In fact, the National Safety Council estimates that 25 percent of all car accidents are caused by cellphone distractions, with the number higher among younger, inexperienced drivers.
With back-to-school season just around the corner, now is a good time to reiterate the importance of avoiding this deadly temptation. Putting the cellphone away, and teaching your kids to do the same, can not only save you big money on insurance premiums over time, parents, it can also be the difference between life and death for you and your child. Here are three easy steps you can take to make sure everyone in your family is staying safe on the road.
Practice What You Preach
Teens don’t just pay attention to what you do behind the wheel when you’re teaching them to drive; they also notice your habits and behaviors. If your driving habits consist of texting while driving, or doing anything with a cellphone for that matter, they will do it, too. As Nationwide notes: “For your safety as well as to set a good example, make a point of never using your phone behind the wheel. This shows your teen that ignoring the phone while driving isn’t a punishment for inexperienced drivers: It’s a precaution everyone should take, like buckling a seatbelt.”
Talk Directly With Your Children
Even though your teen will notice driving behaviors in addition to driving skill, don’t just assume they get it. Sit them down and have the discussion. It only takes a few minutes to explain the dangers of texting while driving, and be sure to emphasize that if they must take an emergency call or text, they should do so while parked in a safe location.
As Nationwide auto insurance notes, “There are several smartphone apps that can reduce the temptation of picking up the phone while driving. Most of these apps work by limiting the functionality of the phone when the car exceeds about 25 mph. Research a few options on the smartphone platform your teen uses; if your son or daughter doesn’t have a smartphone, encourage them to get into the habit of turning their phone off before getting behind the wheel.”
A word of warning: don’t assume that because their car is equipped with voice-activated texting, that they’re safer. Studies indicate that there is still a high degree of risk because the voice system usually requires the push of a button, and that can result in a second or two where your teen’s eyes are off the road. Unfortunately, that’s the only length of time it takes for a tragedy to occur.
Parents have a lot more say with their kids than what they think. Even if your son or daughter rolls their eyes now, they’re still hearing you when you talk to them, and they’re internalizing your habits when you teach them. Use both words and actions to show them that texting while driving is not okay, and that it can ruin lives. Don’t let them find it out the hard way.