Teaching Your Teenager About the Dangers of Texting and Driving

Parents Today Have More to Worry About with Teenage Drivers

Throughout the next year, thousands of teenagers across the U.S. will be taking Driver’s Education courses in an effort to obtain their driver’s license. With the text message becoming a replacement for the once popular cell phone call, parents are realizing that there is a lot more to be worried about when their teen driver is on the road. Countless teens rack up thousands of text messages each and every month – thank goodness for unlimited text plans!  However, at these numbers, a parent has to wonder exactly how many of these texts will be sent or received while their teen is behind the wheel.

Texting Related Accidents Are on the Rise

If your child has a cell phone that is text capable, then you need to ensure that you educate them about the dangers of texting and driving. In 2009 alone, it was estimated that 28% of all vehicle accidents were caused by cell phone use, whether dialing a number, talking or texting. Before you say, “Well, that’s not really that many accidents,” let me give you some real figures.

In 1999, estimates show that about 1/3 of Americans possessed cell phones. During that year, fatal accidents resulting from distracted drivers was 11%. In 2008, estimates show that 91% of Americans possessed cell phones. Fatal accidents resulting from distracted drivers grew to  16% – please keep in mind that this does NOT include severe injuries, minor injuries or fender benders; only fatalities. Here’s another thing to keep in mind: In 2008, the estimated text volume per month was 110 million. The estimated text volume per month in the U.S. in 2010 was 152.7 billionagain, that’s PER MONTH. This makes it even more important to educate your teenagers to ensure not only that they are aware of the dangers of texting while they drive, but being vigilant enough to keep an eye out for other distracted drivers.

What You Can Do to Prevent Your Teen from Texting and Driving
Worried about your child texting and driving? You should be. Thousands of innocent lives are taken each year by this one preventable act, so education is a lot more important than you might realize. Here are some steps that you can take to encourage your child to recognize the importance of why you shouldn’t text and drive at the same time.
  • Videos – there are countless videos that you can show your teenager that are designed to get the message across:
  1. AT&T is sponsoring a campaign called “Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait“. The film lasts 10 minutes and shows teens four true stories that discuss the real risks involved when reading or writing text messages while driving.
  2. This British Video is used as a Public Service Announcement to Inform of the Dangers of texting while driving.
  3. This video was made by a student, but still sends the same message: Texting While Driving: The Results of Your Actions. 
  4. Prince William County PSA message: Texting While Driving is Deadly! 
  5. South Dakota Department of Safety Video: Texting and Driving
  6. Countless more videos exist, including masses of news clips covering actual fatal accidents that have occurred due to texting and driving. A quick search using these keywords will help you find more to show your teenager: texting while driving videos, PSA announcements for texting and driving, videos about texting while driving
  • Discussions – discussing the implications of texting while driving with your teenager is probably one of the most important things that you can do to get your message across – but only if you go about it in a “no holds barred” manner and have examples to back up your warnings. In this manner, the internet can be one of your best friends because the information available on this subject is abundant online. Print out accident photos, discuss them and ask your child how they would feel if it were them.
  • Enforce the “No Texting While Driving” rule. Whether you take away your teenager’s cell phone, their driving privileges or allow only a set amount of texts and minutes each month,  you’ve got to show them that you mean business if they continue to text and drive. You can monitor their text messages by paying attention to your cell phone bill. If they are sending texts a few minutes after they leave home to go to school, a friend’s house, shopping or somewhere else, then you will know that those messages are being sent while your teen is behind the wheel. Lay down the law.
  • Talk to other parents. See what they are doing and get involved. If other parents in your area are interested, get together and sponsor a program to help educate teens on the dangers of cell phone use and texting while driving.
  • Above all, let your child know why you care so much. Don’t hide your feelings from them. Letting your child know that you couldn’t bear to lose them might just save their life.
You’re the Parent – Your Child Is Your Responsibility
That quarter long Driver’s Ed class is not going to continuously reinforce your child’s driving habits. That said, you must be vigilant as a parent and keep a close eye on your teen’s activities and actions. I’m not saying that you have to watch them like a hawk, but don’t let your child run the show.  As parents, we have a responsibility to our children to teach them the things that they need to know to grow up to be responsible adults. No matter what, don’t waver from that responsibility. Your child’s future depends on it.

Have you discussed texting while driving with your teen driver? What methods have you used to stress the importance of this preventable danger?

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