One of the best parts of being a teenager is the new-found freedom of driving. Getting behind the wheel and going where you want without help from anyone else is certainly exciting, but it’s also risky for new drivers. Distracted driving is unsafe for anyone, but it’s especially dangerous for teenagers who are just getting used to driving. Explaining to your teens what the dangers of distracted driving are, and making strict family rules about what goes on in the car will help minimize the risks and keep your teen safe.
Cell Phone Dangers
Teens need to pay extra attention when driving, yet they’re the age group most likely to use their cell phones while driving. Texting while driving is one of the biggest causes of accidents among this age group. Remind your teens that whatever they need to say on their cell phone can wait until they arrive at their destination. If they need to make an important phone call right away, they can pull over to the side of the road to make it. Nothing is as important as their safety behind the wheel.
Friends on Board
Another big distraction for teens when driving comes from their friends, who are probably having a great time all around them. Laughing, shouting, playing with the radio, and horsing around are all fun parts of adolescence, but they don’t belong in the car. These distractions need to be minimized, so let your teen know that the only way they’ll be allowed to have friends in the car is if everyone behaves safely. Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s friends to respect this rule before they all leave for an outing. Let your teen and their friends know that if they can’t chill out in the car, they’ll have to stay home, or wait for a ride from a parent.
Playing music in the car can be a major distraction for teen drivers. Switching songs, fiddling with cords, and rifling through CDs is a lot to take on when you’re still getting the hang of driving. Ask your teen to load up their mp3 player with their favorites, plug it into the car, and then leave it alone. If they need to change the music, ask them to get into the habit of doing so before they pull out of the driveway, and not when they’re on the road. Even playing the music too loudly can be dangerous, because it keeps them from hearing what’s going on around them. Encourage your teen to just enjoy the privilege of driving for now, and keep distractions out of the equation.