If you text while driving, STOP.
If you take selfies while driving, STOP.
If you post to Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook while driving, STOP.
Seriously, please stop now. Your life – and the lives of others – could depend on it.
This is a VERY real issue in our country – especially for teenagers and young adults.
Remember this? Perhaps you heard about it. A 32-year-old woman named Courtney Sanford died last year, literally SECONDS after posting a status update to Facebook. A simple status update, saying that a song on the radio made her happy, caused her to veer into oncoming traffic and tragically took her life.
A simple status update…that could have waited.
Courtney had also been posting selfies on Facebook during her drive.
Now, perhaps you don’t take selfies while driving, or perhaps you don’t manually text because your phone has a voice text capability. Maybe your car is equipped with bluetooth so phone calls come through the sound system in the car. Don’t those things make you safer?
The short answer: no, they don’t.
If you think you’re safer because you use voice texting while driving, think again.
A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that hands-free devices are just as distracting – and therefore dangerous – to drivers as handheld devices.
Believe it or not, even talking to a passenger in your car has been proven to be a dangerous distraction. Read the article about it here.
The leading cause of death for teenagers in America is driving-related accidents. Developments in the convenience and accessibility of technology over the years have only contributed to this epidemic. We have a generation of technology-driven, social-media addicts who depend on constant contact with friends and family – many of whom suffer from a very real phenomenon called FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.
How can we deal with this issue of distracted driving?
Parents, you need to get involved in your kid’s driving life.
Here’s the bottom line. We need you. We will do our part to teach kids to drive safely and defensively and obey traffic laws, but quite frankly, it’s not enough. As we have discussed in previous posts, teenagers and young adults lack the mental capacity to appreciate the long-term consequences of their actions. They are notorious for taking risks and acting impulsively.
And while many states like California have enacted legislation preventing the use of handheld devices while driving, ZERO states have enacted laws that prohibit the use of hands-free devices. So teenagers, young adults and, let’s face it, probably just as many adults feel like they’re being “safer” by using hands-free devices or voice texting, when the truth is those things are still dangerous.
So what do you do?
Driving is a privilege, not a right. Just because your teenager gets his license does not mean he is entitled to unrestricted, unmonitored driving. Set up some rules for your teenager. (Some parents make their kids sign a contract promising to uphold the rules, or lose driving privileges.) Here are some suggestions:
- No driving past 9 pm
- No driving with passengers for the first ___ months
- Absolutely no cell phone use while driving – that includes talking, texting, posting to social media, taking pictures, playing games, playing music – you name it
- No eating while driving
- Always wear seat belt
These can be tailored to your child’s unique needs as well. Remind your kid of the rules often, check up on your kid often, and try to ride in the car with them weekly to see how their driving is coming along. Be ready to follow up any infractions with a corresponding, predetermined consequence. Consistency is key!
And perhaps even more important, MODEL the behavior you want to see in your child. That means no texting or talking for you, either!