Nicholson, Silverbach, & Watson

What parents can do to combat teenage distracted driving

The last thing any parent wants is for his or her teen to get distracted behind the wheel. After all, parents are only too aware of the high level of risk teen drivers face. Their inexperience and impulsiveness mean they cause more than their fair share of accidents, and it could be argued that the most dangerous years of a driver's life are their first three years behind the wheel.

Any distraction increases those risks. You want your teen focused on the road and focused on safety. How do you make sure that happens?

Lead by example

First and foremost, you have to set a good example. No matter what you say, your teen is going to learn from what you do. If you make calls behind the wheel or read text messages, you can be sure that your teen is doing the same thing. Even if he or she doesn't do it when you're in the car, the teen is probably doing it on their own. Your actions mean more than your words.

Don't call a teen driver

You also want to consider how your own actions may influence the teen when you're not around. If you know they're driving, don't call or send text messages. Yes, you want your teen to wait until the car stops to look at a text or listen to a voicemail message, but why create the temptation to do anything else? Pay attention to your child's schedule and do what you can to avoid causing a distraction.

Be frank about the facts

Teens often do not really understand the dangers. They know that their driving instructor told them not to text and drive, but they think of it the way they think of many rules — something they can break as long as they don't get caught.

Talk to them about the realities of distracted driving so that they know why the rule exists. For instance, many experts say that driving distractions are "the main cause of death for teen drivers in the U.S." A stat like that really drives the point home.

Use technology to your advantage

Did you know that modern smartphones often have "Do Not Disturb" settings? After enabling the feature, your teen can automatically set it when they start driving. Using this feature or a similar app on your teen's phone can make them a safer driver. Keep an eye on technological advancements and use them when you can.

Other teen drivers and accident risks

Even if you make sure that your teen drives safely, you cannot ensure that all young drivers do the same. If you get hit and injured by another teenager, you need to know what rights you have to financial compensation.

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