Teaching your kids the importance of not driving distracted is key to ensuring their lifelong safety behind the wheel. Parents and guardians need to emphasize safe driving habits and model them as well. Research indicates that parents tend to underestimate just how dangerous distracted driving can be for their kids.
The vast majority of both rear-end and road-departure crashes involve distracted driving. Some experts estimate that distraction causes over half of all car crashes. A quick glance at the data shows that, as parents, we must take charge of our children’s driving habits. Failure to do so can have potentially disastrous, even fatal, consequences for our kids.
The earlier you begin to teach your kids the importance of not driving distracted, the better. Starting young gives plenty of time for smart safety habits to become second-nature. But, even if you have older children you desire to teach safer driving habits, it is never too late to start. Some training is always better than none in this regard.
Keeping Teen Drivers Safe on the Road
One of the most dangerous potential distractions for any teen driver is passengers. You should take care to limit the number of passengers your teen has in the car at any time. About a fifth of distraction-related collisions involve conversing or interacting with passengers. Almost as many are caused by using cell phones for texting, calls, and apps.
Electronic devices are far from the only potential distraction you need to teach your kids about. Leading driving distractions among teens include:
- Grooming (fixing hair, applying makeup, etc)
- Looking at something inside or outside the vehicle
- Singing to music and fiddling with the radio
- Reaching for objects
Teens are liable to be distracted by digital devices like any other driver. But drivers can stop paying attention and find themselves in a terrible situation in a matter of seconds. In situations where only four or six seconds is the difference between impact and safety, every moment counts. Electronics and other distractions lower reaction times. Teens are even more likely to be involved in rear-end crashes without having ever steered away or touched the breaks. Never underestimate how instantly a car crash can change your lives forever.
Teach Your Kids by Example
Kids are incredibly observant. They recognize whether adults are taking issues seriously. They also easily see through adults who say one thing and practice another. Modeling safe driving habits and refusing to drive distracted are some of the most powerful methods to help your kids stay safe when they’re behind the wheel.
One option is to create a safe driving contract with your kids – you can download free versions online. Safe driving contracts help you and your kids agree on boundaries, expectations, and habits. This makes expectations clear, concise, and easy to absorb.
In addition, try to limit the number of passengers in your teen’s vehicle whenever possible. Interacting with passengers can be a major distraction for all drivers, but especially younger ones. Once drivers gain more experience, they tend to be far more capable of handling additional passengers in the vehicle with them.
Make sure to be a role model with your cell phone, too. Keep your phone put aways and wait to answer calls or texts until you are parked. If your kids see you follow through on this and other recommendations, they are more likely to take your instructions seriously. On that same note, be patient when trying to reach your kids when they are out. After all, if they are in the habit of waiting until they are finished driving to check their phone, they may not see or hear your calls until they’ve reached their destination.