How to Speak With Your Teen About Distracted Driving

Every caring parent experiences at least a little discomfort in knowing their child will be getting behind the wheel for the first time. It’s easy to worry about their safety, especially in this day and

Handsome Young Man Using his Cell Phone Driving a Carage.

There are some difficult discussions parents must have with their children, but too few are talking about the dangers of distracted driving. If you haven’t had a discussion, consider this:

What is Distracted Driving, Exactly?

Most people think of distracted driving as involving the use of smart phones while behind the wheel. However, any activity, however small, that distracts a driver from their primary function of safely operating a vehicle, can be a deadly mistake. That could include adjusting the radio, doing makeup, or eating and driving. But texting is a particularly egregious behavior, one that needs to be stopped.

While no demographic is immune to the temptations of multitasking while driving, teenagers are particularly susceptible due to a feeling of invincibility that comes with being young and naive. This underscores the importance of being able to have a heartfelt discussion with your teen.

After analyzing 1,691 videos of teenage drivers who were involved in an accident, a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that some form of distraction was involved in 58 percent of the accidents. Most of the distraction-related accidents were broken down as follows:

– In about 15 percent of the crashes involving a distracted driver, they were interacting with one or more passengers

– 12 percent of distracted drivers were using a cell phone, whether it was talking, texting or checking messages

– 10 percent were looking at something inside the vehicle

– 9 percent had their eyes on something outside the vehicle other than the road in front of them

– 8 percent were singing or dancing to music

– 6 percent were grooming themselves or checking their hair

It’s not always easy to discuss things that can become easily confrontational. Here are a few tips for how to navigate the conversation:

Talk with them, not down to them. Kids rebel, at least on some small level. As they get older, they want their independence to assert their own identity. One of the few chances parents have to gain their respect is to show that you are listening and respect their views. If they feel like you are simply talking at them with orders, there’s a good chance that their reaction may be worse than before. The foundation of a good rapport with your child start well before this conversation.

Bring up facts. Once you’ve established the best way to speak with them, which includes avoiding emotional highs, simply discuss the facts. Sure, you want to express your motives as a loving parent, but educating them on study findings to emphasize the real dangers will get you further. This also shows that you are speaking to them with the respect they are looking for as a maturing young adult.

Timing is key. Try to avoid having the discussion when confronting them for something they’ve already done. You run the risk of both of you being too emotional. Engage them casually when both of you are in the right state of mind. Interjecting it into a normal conversation rather than pulling them aside will help avoid your child getting defensive.

We live in a world that promotes attention deficit and it’s leading to a whole new cause for traffic accidents. Thousands of people die every year in distracted driving accidents, and many more than that are injured and/or experience financial loss due to vehicle damage. Establishing a  mutually respectful relationship with your child and educating them on the dangers of distracted driving give them the best chance for driving safety.

Oh yeah. When you do talk to him or her, make sure to call us and put it on speaker phone.

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