Talking to teenagers in California about distracted driving is one of the ways to prevent the potentially deadly behavior.
As the California Office of Traffic Safety points out, distracted driving involves any kind of behavior that takes a driver’s focus off the road. Grooming, eating and even talking to other passengers are all considered distractions. However, when it comes to teenagers, one of the most pressing issues is cellphone use behind the wheel.
Parents may be understandably concerned about how safe their teen driver is on the road. The following tips may be useful in preventing the behavior and the devastating accidents that often result:
1. Signing a pledge
Distraction.gov features a pledge form online that asks drivers not to engage in distracted driving. Further, the pledge notes that the person signing it should be a responsible passenger, calling out a driver who driving distracted. Parents can present the pledge to a teen as a way to start a conversation about the dangers of cellphone use while driving.
2. Convey the numbers
According to the Pew Research Center, more than half of people ages 16 to 17 admit that they have talked on a cellphone while driving. Further, 48 percent of people ages 12 to 17 state that they have been a passenger in a vehicle with a driver who was texting.
Even more disturbing are the crash estimates. Distraction.gov reports that drivers who are younger than 20 are the largest proportion of people who drive distracted. Ten percent of people in that age group who were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes were reportedly distracted when the accident occurred.
3. Set a good example
Experts agree that parents should be sure to always focus solely on the road. Parents should never use their cellphones while behind the wheel, especially when young passengers are present. This creates a good example for the young drivers to follow.
4. Give good advice
Many teenagers may not be aware of their options for minimizing distractions. The AAA Exchange offers the following tips:
Store cellphones and other potential distractions in places where the driver will not be tempted to go for them.
Ask passengers to take on distracting tasks if necessary.
When using the phone is necessary, pull to the side of the road or into a safe area and turn off the vehicle.
It may also be helpful to simply turn off devices to prevent them from becoming distractions.
5. Speak the truth about voice-activated systems
A teen may use the excuse that he or she can safely use a voice-activated infotainment system to place phone calls. However, recent studies have shown that these systems are just as distracting as cellphone use itself. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety points out that these systems will still cause a mental distraction, which can be harmful.
California currently bans the use of handheld devices for all drivers. Therefore, not only could a teen cause a serious accident, but he or she could be ticketed and held financially responsible for the damages associated with the crash. People who have questions about distracted driving should consult with a personal injury attorney.