Distracted Driving & More
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Distracted driving involves any activity, such as cell phone use, that has the potential to distract someone from the task of driving. Distracted driving, alcohol, speeding, and not wearing seat belts can lead to death and injury in crashes. Teens, who are still learning the complex skills of driving, are particularly susceptible to distractions while behind the wheel. Don’t let you or your teen become another statistic. Here are the facts:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Mile for mile, teens are involved in 3 times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. And 1 in 3 teens who text say they have done so while driving.
- In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
- A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study revealed that physically dialing a phone while driving increases the risk of a crash as much as 6 times. Texting is riskier still, increasing collision risk by 23 times.
To combat this growing epidemic, we suggest the following:
- Set a good example: Kids observe and learn from their parents. Put your phone down while driving and only use it when you are safely pulled over. According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of teens 12 to 17 say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves and others in danger.
- Talk to your teen: In Michigan teens with a Level 1 or Level 2 Graduated Driver License are prohibited from using a mobile phone while driving (Kelsey’s Law), and all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. Discuss the risks and responsibilities of driving and the danger of dividing their attention between a phone call and the road. Show them the statistics related to distracted driving and urge them to share what they learn with their friends.
- Establish ground rules: Set up family rules in addition to the limits set by the graduated licensing program, and make sure both sets of rules are clear from the start.
- Sign a pledge: Have your teen take action by agreeing to a family contract about wearing safety belts, not speeding, not driving after drinking, and not using a cell phone behind the wheel. Agree on penalties for violating the pledge, including paying for tickets or loss of driving privileges. A sample contract is located on pages 16-17 in this guide.
- Other dangerous distractions: In addition to cell phone use, distracted driving can include eating, grooming, drinking, adjusting the radio or shuffling/streaming music, using the GPS, talking to passengers, or watching a video, just to name a few activities. Inexperienced drivers are particularly susceptible to these kinds of distractions.