Cincinnati Children's Blog

How to Talk with Your Teen About Distracted Driving

How to Talk with Your Teen About Distracted Driving

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured every day in the United States due to distracted driving. The CDC also found that nearly half of all U.S. high school students aged 16 years or older admitted to texting or emailing while driving.

Distracted driving can include texting, talking, emailing or otherwise using a phone or other device behind the wheel. “There are three components to distraction: visual, manual and cognitive inattention to the task of driving,” said Stephanie Estes, an Injury Prevention Coordinator. “Texting is so dangerous because it involves all three components of distraction.”

Talking to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving can help prevent serious injury or a crash. Here’s how to encourage your teen to practice safe driving habits and avoid becoming a statistic.

5 Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving in Teens

1. Speak up about the dangers of distracted driving

The first step is to have a conversation with your teen about distracted driving, texting while driving and other dangerous activities they could engage in behind the wheel. Without becoming accusatory, explain the dangers of distracted driving and how it can impair their ability to concentrate behind the wheel.

Also encourage your teen to speak up if they’re riding in a car with a driver who is not 100% concentrated on driving.

2. Enforce a “put your phone away” rule

Ask your teen to remove all distractions before they start the car. The best approach is to have them turn off their phone while driving — or at least put it on silent. Even the ring from an incoming call or a text message notification could distract a driver long enough to cause an accident.

And because your child still looks to you to set a good example, make sure to follow the “put your phone away” rule, too.

3. Encourage your teen to ask for assistance

If your teen is driving with others in the car, they should enlist that passenger’s help to read driving directions, make a phone call or send a text. If you are a passenger while your teen is driving, ask them what you can do to help.

4. Tell your teen to pull over before making a call

Fender benders, broken-down engines or other driving-related emergencies are a reality of being on the road. In an emergency, advise your teen to pull over in a safe place and put the car in park before using the phone.

5. Discourage the use of “hands free” technology

Research shows that cognitive distractions, which take the mind off driving, can be just as dangerous as the visual and manual distractions that take eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. If your teen loves using technology and their willpower could use a little boost, you can find a variety of smartphone apps that will block or dissuade your teen driver from using their phones while on the road.

As the parent of a teen, you know that driving safety is no laughing matter. Learn how to start the conversation with your child with our guide.

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