Talking to your teen about deadly distractions while at the wheel

Teen drivers are still in the process of familiarizing themselves with the best practices of managing a motor vehicle that experienced drivers have long since internalized. From learning how to efficiently scan for danger on the road to tuning out potential distractions, teenagers have many years of practice ahead of them before they master these critical safety skills.

As parents, one of the most nerve-racking things about high school and the teenage years may be handing over the keys to your child, knowing that they are at higher risk than adults for experiencing a serious car crash or dying on the road.

Reducing their risk often means addressing risk factors head-on. One of the best ways to protect your teen and your peace of mind is to discuss distractions with your teenager and ensure that they understand how dangerous they can really be.

Passengers can be a major risk factor for teen drivers

Socialization and friendships play important roles in the health and happiness of teenagers. Establishing their own social connections and building friendships that may last their entire life is a big part of their developmental and social maturation during the teen years.

Unfortunately, socialization can be one of the biggest dangers for teen drivers. The desire to look at and engage with the other people in the vehicle can keep your young driver from focusing on the road. Make sure that your teen has an understanding of the dangers of driving with peers in the vehicle, and do your best to institute practices that will limit their risk.

For example, requiring that they drive with only one friend in the car at a time may be a good way to reduce social pressure and distraction at the wheel. Alternately, some parents may choose to only allow their teen drivers to drive their siblings and not unrelated classmates.

Remind them that there’s no safe way to text and drive

According to research published last year in a respected medical journal, roughly 40% of teen drivers text while driving every month. This was not a small study, but rather one that looked at the self-reported behaviors of approximately 10,000 teenage drivers.

The potential is there for underreporting, which means that it is likely that more teen drivers text at the wheel than will admit it, even in an anonymous study. It’s also important to understand that the data in this study comes from 2015.

Increased cultural pressure to use mobile devices and social media may have increased the number of young adults who feel the need to look at their phone and maintain constant communication while driving. It can be hard to convince young adults to do something contrary to what their peers do, but focusing on safety is of utmost importance.