You quote statistics about the dangers of texting while driving to your teenagers until you are blue in the face. But once they are behind the wheel, how do you know they have taken your advice to heart? Otherwise smart and well-behaved kids may succumb to the pressure to text while driving. Take the matter seriously, and do what you can to get your kids to stop texting while driving.
1. Sit Down and Discuss
Hold a general discussion of the dangers of distracted driving, explaining that being behind the wheel requires 100% focus. Make your teen driver understand there will be consequences for using the phone while driving, even if they’re lucky enough not to get into an accident. While you should not accuse your teen of texting while driving unless you’re certain it has occurred, follow through is critical — this may mean taking away their phone or their car keys.
This conversation should take place as soon as possible: don’t put it off until your teen actually has a license. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 40% of U.S. teens have witnessed dangerous cell phone use while a car passenger. Teach your children to speak up by first askingthe driver to stop and, If the driver refuses, asking to be dropped off in a safe, public place and call you for a ride. Explain that, although some of their peers may ridicule such behavior,their safety comes first and true friends will understand.
2. Ask Them to Shut Off Their Phones
Ask your teenagers to shut off their phones— not simply silence them — as soon as they walk at the door. Make this behavior a habit,something they need to show you they’ve done when they grab the keys and say goodbye. If you suspect your teen is powering back up while behind the wheel, monitor when texts and calls are made and whether they match times when you know your child is driving. However, if you’ve had thorough discussions about the dangers of distracted driving and they know you’retrustingthem to make the right decision, most teens will leave the phone off until they reach their destination.
3. Set an Example
Too many parents lecture their children and then fail to model appropriate behavior. Even worse: some parents get defensive if their children point out the dangerous conduct. Texting while driving isn’t just“teenage problem;” adults are frequently guilty of this dangerous behavior. Do as you ask your kids to do: Shut off the phone before you get in the car, no matter how busy you are, no matter how important your phone calls and texts may seem. Do this even when your kids aren’t around to see you. Make it a habit the whole family can get behind.
A lawyer can help you navigate the changes to the new personal injury law if you or your teenager is in an accident. However, the best plan is to decrease your chance of having a “distracted driving” accident in the first place.