Teenage Driving Distractions: Are You to Blame?
How often do you see a teenager who doesn’t have his phone in front of his face? When was the last time your child went ten minutes without sending a text or updating her Facebook status?…and no, sleeping doesn’t count.
It’s no secret that teenagers love their cell phones. In this day and age, cell phones are an all-inclusive vessel for communication, education, and pride. Unfortunately, it is also an all inclusive vessel of distraction.
Trying to get a teenager’s attention as you scream your head off two feet in front of him when he’s plugged into his phone is nearly impossible. Can you imagine his attention span when he’s plugged in behind the wheel of a car? Not too reassuring, now is it?
DUI-T: Driving Under the Influence of Technology
Although state law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using wireless communication devices and severely limits cell phone use for adult drivers, distracted cell phone use has become an epidemic in Texas.
- Almost half of all Texas drivers admit to regularly or sometimes talking on a cell phone while driving.
- Nearly a third of all Texas traffic crashes are caused by distracted drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 as a result of texting and cell phone use.
- The latest collected data (2012) estimates that 90,378 traffic collisions that year were caused by cell phone distractions.
- Of these crashes, 18,468 resulted in serious injuries and 453 resulted in deaths.
Responsibility, Imitation, and Distraction—How You’re Putting Your Children in Danger
Vehicular cell phone distractions occur when a driver is talking, texting, or checking messages on a cell phone while driving. Although you may worry that your child’s friends or his addiction to social media may be the only concerns for him to become distracted behind the wheel, the problem may be a little closer to home.
A recent study performed by the American Psychological Association shows that parents may be more to blame for their teenagers’ distraction habits than they realize. Dangerous contributory actions include.
- Premature purchasing. Being able to have the opportunity to stay connected with your children all the time is definitely a perk of purchasing or allowing your child to have a fancy cell phone. However, you need to be able to depend that his judgment and maturity is good enough to handle multiple potential distractions. Will he be able to ignore a text? Can he log out of Facebook for an extended amount of time? If not, perhaps you should consider getting him a less advanced phone for emergency situations only.
- Demanding an answer. Many teen drivers are distracted by their own parents calling them while they are driving. Although they may know answering could be dangerous, teens told researchers that their parent expect them to answer when they call and get angry when they don’t. It’s admirable to keep tabs on your children, but you need to remember that they may be driving and shouldn’t be expected to answer their phones until they reach their destinations.
- Reinforcing bad habits (imitation). Do you remember when your child was a baby or toddler, and repeated everything you said or did (often, much to your chagrin)? Children learn—for better or for worse—from the actions and habits of their parents. According to a study by Liberty Mutual, 42 percent of surveyed teen passengers have witnessed their parents texting while driving and asked them to stop. Sadly, the study indicated that 40 percent of the parents who were asked to stop either tried to justify their actions or simply ignored their teenagers’ request. You need to remember that your children learn from you and your actions. If they see you driving distracted, they’ll think it’s okay for them to do so as well.
For the safety of your children, it’s time that you put down your cell phone and begin to instill positive habits into your children that may keep them safe for the rest of their lives.
Take the Pledge to Prevent Distraction
After seeing firsthand how distracted driving accidents can affect victims’ lives, we want to encourage parents and teen drivers alike to put their phones down and to take a personal pledge to stop driving distracted.
It’s very important that all teens and adults realize that no phone call or text message is worth the risk of endangering their life or the lives of others. Please like and share this article on Facebook to encourage other parents to talk to their teenagers and set a good example against distracted driving. You never know, sharing this information might help prevent a car crash involving a loved one.