Distracted driving is a dangerous practice that is the cause of many catastrophic wrecks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young people under age 20 have the highest risk of being involved in a fatal auto collision caused by distracted driving.
However, you can take steps to help your teen to stay focused when he's behind the wheel.
Stop Your Teen from Being a Distracted Driver
Distracted driving includes many activities, such as talking on a cellphone, texting, eating and drinking, grooming, fiddling with electronics, or talking to a friend. These distractions are often more tempting to younger drivers than older ones who have more experience on the road—even though many adults are just as prone to diverting their attention from the task at hand.
Here are tips to help your child drive safely:
- Model safe driving. You need to be a role model and avoid engaging in practices that you know take your mind off driving. It's especially important to set a good example by not talking on your cellphone or texting while behind the wheel. When they see you wait to answer a text until you're safely parked and keep your hands and eyes on the road, they'll have a better understanding of what to do.
- Help your teen make a pre-drive checklist. This includes adjusting the mirrors, setting up a music playlist, putting away his cellphone, and getting out his sunglasses before he starts the ignition. By taking care of these and any other potentially distracting actions before driving, you teach him the importance of being well-prepared.
- Talk about the dangers. There are numerous resources to share with your teenager that help explain the rise of crashes, injuries, and deaths due to many types of distraction. This third-party information makes it less of a lecture and more of discussion of how to be safe.
- Don’t call or text. You may be worried when your teen starts driving, or just want to be certain he gets to his destination safely. However, don't text or call him when you think he may be driving. Instead, create a different check-in system, like a rule that he texts you once he arrives and leaves the vehicle.
- Enter into a contract. Teach your teen that being allowed to drive is a privilege, not a right. Enter into a contract with him that clearly states when he's permitted behind the wheel, and the safe driving practices you expect him to follow—including putting his cellphone away. Enforce consequences if he breaks the contract.
Taking Action When Your Teen Is Involved in an Accident
While you can take steps to ensure your teen is a safe driver, he could still suffer injuries in a car accident caused by a negligent motorist. Mark Blane is an experienced car accident attorney dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured drivers or passengers in San Diego and southern California. Fill out our convenient online form for a free consultation.