Although teen drivers are four times more likely than adults to crash because of their cell phones, parents and other adults play a huge role in the prevention of needless teen deaths. The most key way is modeling safe behavior, not using your phone to text and call while driving if you don’t want your kid to. Pull over if it can’t wait. I know I have been known to glance at texts, answer calls, put on lipstick, eat a bagel, etc., while driving. I feel I need to make an effort to stop all that, as I have two kids who will be driving in a few years and are witnessing my behavior. In these hectic, heavily scheduled times, multi-tasking is essential to get everything done, and sometimes between the gas station and the post office is the only time you get to make that important call. To stay connected with work and family is crucial and cell phones help us do that, and if like me you spend an inordinate amount of time in your car, it is hard to leave that phone alone. But remember that if mom or dad is always on the phone in the car, what’s to keep the teen from doing it, too, or getting in a car with a friend doing it?
Parents need to reinforce good driving habits in whatever way they can, and not rely on driver’s ed classes to cover everything. Among other things, monitor seat belt use and limit the number of passengers. Strict loss of privileges for cell phone use is a good idea, too. Make your kid pledge to commit to driving without distractions.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen drivers age 16 to 19 are already three times more likely than older drivers to be in a fatal crash, the leading cause of death for teens. Texting and driving is six times more dangerous than driving drunk, they add. And teens text, thousands of times a month for some, and many of these are from the driver’s seat. Until this changes somehow, the death rate from distracted driving, is unfortunately not likely to decrease any time soon.