Texting and driving kills 11 teens a day, and you don’t want your child to be one of them. You can do your part to stop texting behind the wheel and distracted driving by using a combination of methods with your young driver.
Start the Conversation
Honesty and an open conversation with a teen goes a lot further than impersonal scare tactics and easily ignored commercials. Open up the conversation with your teen, voicing your concern on the dangers of texting and asking for their thoughts. This isn’t the time for judgment, but for encouraging thoughtful conversation. Be honest with them and show them the accident stats. For example, a driver is 3 times more likely to be in an accident if they text and drive. Look for first person narratives and share these videos with your teens.
In addition, even if their irresponsible texting doesn’t end with somebody getting hurt, there are other consequences like license suspension. In the words of NY traffic attorney Zev Goldstein, Esq. “Younger drivers are treated more strictly. Even a first time offense for a hand held cell phone will result in a 60 day suspension for drivers with permits or junior licenses.”
Make a Pact
Driving is a privilege, not a right, and as the parent, you get to set the rules for allowing that privilege. One of those rules should be that texting and driving is never okay. Draw up a contract with these rules and have your teen sign it. In fact, perhaps you should also may the pact with your teen that you won’t text and drive, either.
Take Advantage of Technology
If you’re still worried, technology can help. There are phone apps available that will monitor both your teen’s texting habits and speeding habits when they are driving. Installing the app on your child’s phone allows you to monitor activity, and they can’t remove the app without your passcode.
There are also apps that block texting. You can install these apps on the teen’s phone so they can’t text at all, or you can give your teen control of the app. Some teens are willing to skip the texting behind the wheel, but their developing will power needs a bit of help to keep them on track.
Be the Role Model
Actions speak louder than words. Your habits really do rub off on your teens, so make sure you are modeling the right habits. If your teen sees you texting or talking on the cell phone behind the wheel, they will be less likely to take your rules on texting seriously. Always pull over to the side of the road to use your phone; this makes a powerful impression your teen on the severity of the issue.
Rewards and Consequences
Both consequences and rewards should be swift and consistent. If you discover your child is texting, immediately implement severe repercussions that fit the crime. Temporary loss of both driving and phone privileges are common. Rewards are just as important. A teen that follows the texting rules deserves prompt and consistent praise. They are swimming against the tide of most of their peers, which is a momentous achievement.
If we follow through on these guidelines we can help protect our teens and make a significant difference in society.