Teen driving and texting is responsible for over 3,000 teen deaths and 300,000 injuries across the United States. Teens are addicted to texting and social media. They can drop everything they are doing to reply to text messages.
This can be a problem when they are behind the wheel. Distracted driving worries most parents because almost 25 percent of all vehicle accidents result from it.
Ensuring the phone is away from the steering wheel can be a challenge. Talking to a teen is never easy, let alone making them pay attention to you.
Here are handy tips to help you start the conversation and ensure your advice actually sticks.
1. Talk to the Teen
Don’t assume your teen knows that it’s unsafe to text while driving. Hold a bold, family discussion even before your teen starts learning to drive.
Create some simple rules: no talking on the phone or texting during driving. If you think the teen might get tempted, ensure the rules are more specific.
For example, insist on the fact the phone should be turned off and left in the glove compartment or trunk.
You may go a step further and let every driver within the family sign a pledge not to drive while distracted.
2. Create Rules and Their Respective Consequences
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you should let your teen know that driving is just a privilege that can be lost if rules are not followed.
State the consequences of disobeying the rules too, which may include not driving for a specific number of months, weeks or days. Spell that out and ensure the teenager understands what will follow if the rules are violated.
3. Know the New York State Laws on Texting While Driving
Texting while driving may not only be against your household’s rules, but it’s a violation of state laws, as well. Texting among drivers is against the law in 44 states and in Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, U.S Virgin Islands, and Guam.
In New York, drivers are banned from using hand-held mobile phones or portable electronic devices while driving. Unlawful activity includes holding the portable electronic gadget and using it to:
- Compose, send, read, access, transmit, save, browse, or retrieve electronic data, such as text messages, email, or web pages
- Play games
- View, take, or transmit photos
Using a portable electronic device when driving (except to dial 911 to request for emergency help from fire, medical, or police personnel) can attract a traffic ticket along with a surcharge and fine.
Not to mention, texting while driving can lead to points being added to the driver’s DMV driving record. Receiving 11 points within 18 months may lead to a suspension of the driving license.
So, by setting household rules for your teen, you are preparing him or her to follow the NYS driving laws and be safe on the road. Be sure to remind the teen about these rules as well so they stop thinking you are being hard on them for no reason.
4. Get a Text-Blocking App
You can take your teen’s phone and install apps, such as TextLimit and TXT Shield. These apps disable texting when the vehicle reaches a particular speed.
The apps work with GPS on the phone to monitor the speed. You may also program the smartphone to send an automated reply to incoming texts after the car hits a certain speed, such as 30 mph or even less.
If your teen uses an iPhone, then you can take advantage of the “Do Not Disturb” feature that comes with iOS 11 and later versions. This feature senses when you are driving and turn’s the phone silent with a dark display.
If anyone texts, they receive an automated response, letting them know you are behind the wheel. You can set this feature up by following this tutorial.
5. Avoid Texting or Calling Your Teen While They Drive
According to research shared at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, over 50 percent of teens who said they use their phones as they drive said it’s their parents who usually call them.
Although the texting numbers from this study were smaller, they were too high. Thus, as a parent, you should avoid calling or texting your daughter once you notice they might be driving.
Most teens know their parents will probably get mad if they don’t return their calls or texts. So, chances are, your son or daughter will reply your text or answer your calls even when pressing the acceleration pedal.
6. Talk to Their Friends’ Parents
If your child’s friends have the same rules, then your child may find one more reason to follow them. For example, if your child is driving with one of their friends in the passenger seat and they receive a text message, they may hesitate to respond to that text, especially if your child’s friend has similar driving while texting rules.
As your teen reaches out to respond to the text, their friend may remind them it’s not right to text while driving. As a result, they will both be better drivers.
7. Post the Official Driving Rules in the Car
You may want to write down the most essential rules and put them somewhere that your child can see them. You can make the rules visually appealing then stick them on the car’s glove compartment or dashboard.
Your teenager may feel more accountable if they can see important rules posted in a visible place, particularly if other passengers in the vehicle can see those rules too.
The rules may look like this:
- Don’t drink while driving
- No texting until you are finished driving. If someone else is the car, let them reply texts for you
- Don’t use social media until you are done driving
- Choose a music playlist before you start driving and stick with it. You may press the skip button, but no scrolling through a playlist or searching for songs
- Keep the music volume down. The same applies to the passengers’ voices
8. Be a Good Example
If you text and drive, your children are likely to follow suit. You can develop a habit of only texting once you are done driving or asking your teen to reply texts on your behalf from the passenger seat. Taking such measures can teach your crucial lessons on teenage driving safety.
9. Take Them for a Professional Driving Course
Last but not least, you may want to enroll your teen in a Brooklyn driving school so they acquire skills in safe driving. You may want to consider our 5 hour pre-licensing course that has helped many teens become the best drivers.