Talking to Your Teen About Texting and Driving

Teen drivers lack driving experience, which makes them more likely to be involved in a car accident. Couple that with texting and you have a recipe for disaster.

Jeffrey Nadrich, a car accident lawyer in Tracy, CA, stresses the importance of talking to your teens about texting and driving by noting that “parents need to have this conversation with their kids before taking them to the DMV to get their driving permit.”

As a parent, you are likely concerned about your teen driving. Nearly 90 percent of teens 14-18 years old own a smartphone. Teens are at the highest risk of getting into a crash while driving distracted. Every year, 1.6 million car accident are caused by cell phone use while driving. Texting while driving kills 11 teens every day.

These are scary statistics, but you can’t just forbid your child from driving. Driving is an important skill that your teen will need to have. So how can you help your teen drive safely and avoid texting and other distracting behaviors? Here are some tips on getting through to your teen and helping them drive in a safe manner.

Be Honest With Your Child

Before handing over the keys to your teen, have an open conversation about the dangers of texting while driving. Let them know that not only is it unsafe, but also illegal. They could get a ticket or be in an accident. They could end up hurting or killing themselves or someone else.

Show Them Statistics

Texting and driving is risky. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving. Another 391,000 people were injured. Do some online research and show your teen the statistics of driving and texting. Even if your teen thinks it won’t happen to them, let them know they are not invincible. A crash can happen even if your teen takes his eyes off the road for just a few seconds.

Set a Good Example

You can’t expect your child to listen to you if you engage in texting while driving yourself. Of those between the ages of 12 and 17, nearly half have witnessed their parent using their phones while driving. Therefore, you should abide by the same rules. keep your phone out of reach while driving and avoid making phones calls or sending texts.

Create a Contract

The law will punish your teen if she is caught texting while driving, but that doesn’t do anything from preventing the behavior in the first place. You can make an effort to curb this distracting behavior by creating a contract. This contract will outline the dangers of texting while driving and punish your child for doing so. For example, if you find out that your teen is texting while driving, you can choose to take away her phone, ground her or take away her driving privileges. This should be clearly stated in the contract.

Practice Detachment

Teens nowadays are so attached to their phones. Many cannot go more than a few minutes without checking them. This can pose an issue while driving. Merely checking a phone while driving – or even while at a stop sign – can cause a serious accident.

To fight the urge to check their phone, insist that your teen keep her phone in the back seat. The phone should also be turned off or set to silent so that the ringing or notifications do not distract your teen.

Use an App

Many phones have built-in apps and features that eliminate the temptation to text and drive. For examples, iPhones have “Do not disturb” settings that silence all notifications, so your teen won’t be distracted by their phone. AT&T also has a Drive Mode that shuts off notifications if the car exceeds 15 mph. If the teen turns off the Drive Mode or other features, it will alert the parents.

Talk About Money

If you still can’t get your teen to take you seriously, talk about a topic that will interest them: money. Car insurance is costly. If your teen is caught texting while driving, she will get a ticket. Not only will they have to pay the ticket, but their insurance rates will go up.

Make sure your teen understands that in order to drive, they need to have insurance. Besides gas, it is another necessary expense. Let them know how much they will have to pay in insurance and that the amount can increase based on their driving habits. If they get a ticket or cause an accident, their insurance rates will go up. Let your teen know that she will be responsible for paying for insurance (if she isn’t already) if she wants to continue driving.

Talking to your teen about texting and driving can be challenging. Nevertheless, it is a necessary conversation. There are many consequences involved and most importantly, your child’s life is at risk.

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