Vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. As the school year gets into full swing for many students, new drivers will be testing their skills. There’s no surefire way to prevent your teen from becoming distracted behind the wheel, but experts and parents from around the country are coming up with some pretty great tips to reduce the likelihood. Here are some good ways to encourage your child to focus on the road the next time he or she gets behind the wheel:
• Encourage your teen to be a good passenger. Everybody can use an extra pair of eyes on the road. Ask your teen to be observant even when he or she isn’t driving. Influencing friends to engage in safe behaviors is the fastest way to get everyone on board with safe driving habits.
• Develop some ground rules. Set some limits on what teens are and are not allowed to do when they take the car out, and focus on dangerous behaviors like texting while driving, fiddling with the radio, or becoming distracted by friends. Create consequences for violating the rules, and stick by them if you hear of or witness unsafe driving behaviors.
• Use technology. ORIGOsafe is a docking system that requires a phone be docked before the vehicle can be turned on. It uses Bluetooth technology to keep drivers in touch when necessary, and it offers peace of mind to parents of teens. Other solutions, such as Smartwheel, use a warning sign when hands are in an area that may indicate texting or distraction.
• Ride with teens regularly. Remind teens of the statistics when possible and ride with them to make sure they’re developing good habits. Identify and address any unsafe driving habits you notice while riding together.
• Try a more extreme solution. Some parents encourage teens to lock the phone in the trunk or in the back of the vehicle, out of reach, before getting behind the wheel. The center console or glove compartment could also be effective and reachable if your child needs to pull over for an emergency.
• Do routine phone record checks. This may not earn you the “cool parent of the year” award, but it could save your child’s life. Review records and texting histories and match up times when your teen may have been driving. If you find any suspicious activity, have a frank conversation with your teen, and restrict phone and/or vehicle use accordingly.
• Set a good example. If you make calls, drive with your knees, or reach into the back of the car while driving, your teen will see that behavior and be more inclined to do the same thing. Instead, pull over to complete activities that take your attention away from the road. Ask your passenger to complete other activities for you.
Teens need to understand they’re putting their own lives at risk as well as the lives of everyone they pass on the road. For more information about the legal ramifications of distracted driving, get in touch with attorney Erney Law.