Parents know about the newest worry that begins when their teenager starts to drive. With text messaging being the preferred form of communication among teens, many quickly respond to a text notification to see what has been sent or to reply, even if they are driving. They do not realize that the few seconds that they take to read or reply to a text message is all it takes to be involved in a catastrophic accident.
According to this Raleigh car accident attorney, “The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently conducted a study which found that the majority of teen driving collisions are caused by three main factors: not paying attention, not yielding the right of way, and driving too fast.”1 In fact, you can chalk up texting while operating a vehicle as one of the main reasons for not paying attention, and this distraction is the number one danger facing them while they drive.
It takes 4.2 seconds to look at a text and read it. If your teen is driving at a speed of 55 mph, they will travel the length of a football field in the same amount of time they read the text. This is a very long distance to travel at this speed without having your eyes on the road.2 They need to be made aware of how dangerous this habit is and understand the consequences of their actions.
It’s a parent’s worst fear to get that call to tell them that their child has been involved in a car accident, but there are some things you can do to keep them safe. Some actions involve a discussion between you and your teenager, and others are affordable devices and apps that can be installed while they are driving.
1. Explain the Legal Penalties
In North Carolina, texting while driving is taken very seriously, and it is a primary law. Primary law means that you can get ticketed by the police for the violation and no other traffic violation has to take place (like speeding). In other words, the police officer is allowed to pull your car over if they see you texting without needing any other reason. Being ticketed for this offense can lead to fines up to $10,000, incarceration for up to a year, and possible loss of driving privileges. Explain the legal problems they can have while texting and operating a vehicle in the state in which they will be driving.
2. Have a “No Text” App Installed
Many insurance companies are offering devices that you can have installed in your car that connect to the phone number of your teen and work like an app. Some companies offer the service for about $4.99 a month. When the car is on and in motion, all calls will be sent to voice mail and text notifications will not sound. Once the car is stopped and turned off, your teen has access to their phone again.
3. Provide a Dial In Service App
Your teenager can call in to a text to speech/speech-to-text service that will read emails out loud and let them respond-all by voice command. Some subscription plans run as low as $5.99 a month. However, hands free devices are helpful, but may also lead to distractions. This is a service that may not be an option until they are a little more experienced behind the wheel.
4. Set Standards for Car Use
You need to reaffirm your standings on what can and cannot take place while your teen is driving. Set very strict standards and make sure that your teen understands if they violate those standards they lose their right to drive.
5. Lead by Example
The most important thing for all parents to remember is that the best way to make them understand how important it is not to text and drive is to lead by example. Make sure that you never read or send a text while you are behind the wheel- no exceptions. They will copy your actions, so make sure the example you set is one that you want repeated.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged 14-22. A majority of these accidents are related to distracted driving. You must make your teen understand how much you love them and want them to be safe. They never act like they are listening, but they are. It is important that you just take the time to stress how important it is that they remain safe behind the wheel.