With every new teen driver, we (the public, parents, and educators) stress the importance of not drinking and driving. Meanwhile, with the progress of the “technology age”, texting while driving has become an equally dangerous distraction to teen drivers. Texting while driving regroups the actions of reading, composing, or sending email and text messages from a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle. It causes diversion of attention and lowers a driver’s ability to focus on the road. Unfortunately the popularity of electronic devices, increases the risks of reckless behavior behind the wheel, that can potentially result in serious harm, or loss of life.
Distractions are the number one reason new drivers crash, and car crashes are the number one cause of death in adolescence. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2008 alone, nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than 500,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
Convincing teens not to use their cell phones while they drive can be much harder than getting them to clean up their room, but their lives may depend on it. In recent reports, studies show that teens aren’t taking the dangers of driving while “intexticated” seriously. They are at the age of invincibility, so they don’t think anything bad can happen to them. They don’t see the harm in answering “one little text”. Arizona is one of thirty states that has a ban on texting while driving and The Arizona Department of Transportation has also adopted a graduated license program.
Keeping teen drivers and others safe on the road is the responsibility of that teen’s parent.
- Set family driving rules with clear consequences for breaking the rules.
- Remind your teen that driving is a privilege that can be revoked.
- Talk with your teen about the risks of driving and texting or talking on a cell phone.
- Remind your child about the importance of making good choices while driving
Arizona SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, recommends rules such as: No alcohol or drug use, No cell phone use, including text messaging, No driving after 10 p.m. Keep two hands on the wheel–no eating, changing CDs, handling iPods or other activities while driving, and limit or restrict friends in the car without an adult.
* * For additional help with getting your point across to your teen, The City of Mesa, offers tips on how to keep your young drivers safe on the road. Additional resources: Oprah’s No Phone Zone pledge, encouraging teens to make a commitment to not use their cell phones while driving.