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Monday, April 7, 2014

Making Sure Your Teenagers Don't Text and Drive

No self-respecting teen wants to take the school bus, particularly in his or her senior year. But with so many statistics on the dangers of young people on the road, you may wonder if it is ever a good idea to let your own teenager drive. In fact, distractions or recklessness are the most common cause accidents in which teenagers are involved. The most common distraction is the cell phone and texting in particular. Texting is significantly more dangerous than talking while driving because it takes more concentration and requires the driver to take his or her eyes completely off of the road. As learning to drive is seen as a rite of passage, how do you allow them this rite while making sure they don’t text and drive?

Exercise Your Authority and Influence as Parent
Talk to them; they’ll listen. Set an example; if you take calls while driving, they’ll take calls and probably texts as well. Implement guidelines by teaching as well as demonstrating.

Tell them that we, as humans, can’t actually multitask. We think we can but we’re actually switching attention between tasks. Try listening to two reading passages at the same time. Can you listen to both simultaneously while understanding each article? Depending on the circumstance, an increased cognitive load can make us exceedingly bad at accomplishing any task, let alone more than one.

Show them these statistics. It might scare them into not texting and driving.

  • It's like driving after having 4 beers.
  • It makes us 23 times more likely to crash.
  • It kills an average of 11 teens each day.

Take preventative measures
If you haven’t bought your teenager a car yet, get a stick shift for your teen. This is a win-win situation: they’ll love it and you’ll get what you want because they won’t have the time to text. If only automatics are available to you, make them put their bag and phone in the back seat where they can’t answer it.

If you catch them texting and driving, make sure there are consequences for the bad behavior. If it continues, take away car privileges completely. Having to take the bus will get the message across to them. If you can’t take away the car, take away the phone or the texting plan. Even if temporarily taking either away is inconvenient for you, it could save lives (and a costly lawsuit).

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