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4 ways parents can help teens avoid distracted driving

Photo of Harlan Thompson

Talking to your kids about distracted driving can save lives.

In a recent post, we kicked off Distracted Driving Awareness Month by dispelling some myths about distracted driving. As the month continues, we'll be providing more resources about this dangerous epidemic and helping you protect yourself on the road.

We all know that driving while distracted by a phone call, text message or chatty driver is highly dangerous, yet distracted driving continues to be a major contributor to vehicle accidents all over the country. Because teenagers are often glued to their phones, their age group is at high risk of vehicle accidents involving distracted driving. Fortunately, parents can help foster safe driving behavior and help keep teens accident-free.

Need help talking to your child about distracted driving? Read on.

4 ways to discourage distracted driving by your child

  1. Lead by example - It's not as easy as just saying the right thing; kids learn by watching the adults in their lives. Making your own car a distraction-free zone, particularly when your child is riding with you, is one of the most effective ways to teach them good driving behavior.
  2. Don't let yourself become a distraction - If you know your child is likely to be driving, refrain from calling or sending a text message. If you absolutely must talk to your child: call and briefly tell them to pull over and call back when they can.
  3. Try a "commentary drive" - The national PTA suggests taking an unfamiliar drive with your child in the passenger seat. Have them begin texting and ask them to describe what they see on the route and how they would respond. They will almost certainly miss some hazards, so take the opportunity to show them how distracting phone use can be.
  4. Take it seriously - Disciplining your child is no fun, but it's important that they know you are serious about safe driving. If your child knows how to drive safely but continues to choose not to, it may be time to restrict their access to the vehicle or the source of distraction.

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