Teaching Text-Obsessed Teen Drivers that "It Can Wait"

By: Kimberly Owens, Guest Blogger

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than nine people are killed each day due to accidents caused by distracted driving, along with more than 1,000 others injured by simply not paying attention to the road. "Distracted driving" is defined by the CDC as engaging in activities like talking on the phone, eating, using the navigation system, and most notably, texting while driving.

The age of technology is convenient, but can also be dangerous. These days, it's not uncommon to see a child with an iPhone before they've even started high school, an issue that is certainly recognized at the legislative level. Forty-three states have completely banned texting behind the wheel, while many of the remaining states have legal measures in place to prevent novice drivers texting while driving. Unfortunately, the law can only do so much to deter distractions on America's streets.

The hardest truth to accept as a parent is that your teenage son or daughter ultimately holds their own fate. You can lecture and warn all day, but ultimately, the decision to refrain from using the phone while driving depends on the driver. That's not to say you're helpless as a parent. There are several effective measures to help ensure that your kids stay safe on the road.

Hands-Free Bluetooth Systems

Hands-free phone calls have been a reality for years, but now advanced systems can read text messages through car stereos and can even let the driver give an audible response. The systems use Bluetooth, a universal wireless technology, to connect the driver's phone to the car and can work quite efficiently and safely. Prices for these systems range from less than $100 for a small adapter to hundreds more for fully-integrated systems, according to Best Buy's website.

Incentivize Education

There's no guarantee your son or daughter will greet driver's education with jubilee, but there are methods to incentivize learning. If you plan to purchase a car for your kid, require they take an online driver's education course prior to their official driver's test. Consider getting involved with the "It Can Wait" campaign, a movement geared to preventing teens from texting behind the wheel, according to ItCanWait.com. Your teen can view testimonials from others who have either taken the pledge not to text while driving or have been personally affected by an accident caused by distracted driving. Even a glimpse into the world of those whose lives have been turned upside down by distracted driving could make all the difference.

Set An Example

Take an honest look at the way you drive, and not just when the kids are in the car. Maybe you don't text and drive, but do you take a phone call while on the freeway? When you make a trip to the drive-through for fast food, do you snack on the food before you reach the driveway? Despite how teens act, your actions make an impression on them. If you consistently show them what responsible driving looks like, they are more likely to imitate your good habits.

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These are critical ideas that could not only save a teen’s life but the lives of innocent others in another car! We, adults, must not text while driving. As with all things, our children will most often do as we do, not as we say.

For a somewhat related article, “Texting and Children,” that includes parental guidelines, see: http://www.kellybear.com/ParentTips/ParentTip11.html

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