Talking About Distracted Driving
There are a ton of distractions that can take your eyes and focus off the road when you drive. Even though your teen may be aware of these distractions, they may not know how serious it is. Drivers under 20 are at the highest risk of distracted driving. Most of that is due to cell phones. People who use their phones when they drive are 5 times more likely to get into an accident.
One of the most important conversations you can have is about distracted driving. Here are a few ways to positively encourage safe driving.
Lead by Example
Kids learn behavior by watching their role models. They will be more likely to stay off their phone when driving if they see you do the same thing. The earlier you can set this example, the better it will be for your teen. However, if your teen has frequently seen you on the phone while driving, there is no better time to start than right now.
Use Tools to Keep Phones Down
There are apps that you can download on your teen’s phone to help reduce distractions. There are apps that can lock certain features or allow hands-free control, like Bluetooth. Another tool to use is a phone mount. It may not be able to completely keep their eyes on the road, but it can keep it out of their hands and closer to the road.
These may not be perfect solutions but using these tools can at least slow down the use of their phones.
Peer influence is another big part of distracted driving. Having others in the car can be both positive and negative. Some peers can have a positive influence by asking the driver to put the phone away. Other peers can be an additional distraction. Talk to your teenager and their friends about how they engage with one another in the car. Encourage them to make safe driving habits.
New drivers hear a lot of negative comments. They constantly hear about what they’re doing wrong and the dangers of being on the road. While it is extremely important to correct new drivers, it is also important to compliment them when they do something right. It could be something small like braking smoothly or following the speed limit. Positive reinforcement can help create good habits.
Practice Makes Perfect!
This may seem obvious, but your teen will get better at driving the more time they spend on the road. Offer to let them drive and slowly start taking them into heavier traffic. Often, teens don’t encounter difficult driving situations until they’re on the road alone. Being there for difficult situations can help them in the long run.