How to Speak with Teens About Distracted Driving

Most of us are attached to our digital vices, but teens in particular seem to not only require their smartphone communications, but have a sense of invincibility too, which is ingrained in brains that have yet to fully mature. That’s why they are particularly vulnerable to being involved in a distracted driving car accident.

According to statistics from the federal government, 40 percent of American teens say they have been in a car while the driver was using a cellphone. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, often for preventable reasons. That’s why it’s so important for parents to find a way to communicate to their children the importance of putting down the phone when they drive.

Don’t lecture them. It’s not always easy to get through to our kids. Give yourself the best chance possible by talking with them, not down to them. That means you don’t sound preachy or condescending, even slightly. But also, ask them about what they think. Make sure they understand their viewpoints matter.

Pick the right time. You want to engage your son or daughter when both of you are in the right mindset. If either of you are in a bad mood, wait for another day.

Just the facts, ma’am. While you want to be mindful of what you say and when you say it, you still need to address the facts directly. Give them the science and research behind why driving while on the phone is so dangerous.

Driving and multitasking don’t mix and even if they think speaking on the phone isn’t really doing two things at once, quote the research that shows how much a person’s reaction time is slowed when texting or talking on the phone.

Other facts to discuss are also the simplest and most shocking. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people die every day, reportedly due to distracted driving. While it’s daily, ”nine” may not be a shocking enough number. Let them know that more than 3,000 people die every year. And it’s not just about death. A startling 387,000 were injured in 2011 because of a distracted driver. When you start approaching half a million people, that’s an attention grabber.

Make sure your kids understand you are on their side, that you’re doing it because you love them and that you couldn’t bear the thought of losing them. You and your teen can learn more aboutthe dangers of distracted driving at http://www.distraction.gov/.