Talk To Your Kids About the Risks of Texting While Driving

A new survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that most teens admit that when they drive, they’re also texting and emailing.

The CDC surveyed 15,000 high school students about a variety of at risk behaviors. According to the survey, one in three high school students reported they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous 30 days.

A similar study, part of a project called Generation tXt, was presented recently at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Boston.

Thirty students ages 15-19 participated in the study. Using simulators, the teens drove under three conditions: 1) without a cell phone, 2) texting with the phone hidden so they had to look down to see texts and 3) texting with the phone in a position of their choice. The simulators recorded unintentional lane shifts, speeding, crashes/near crashes and other driving infractions.

Be sure to talk openly with your kids about the laws and risks tied to using their cell phone and texting while driving – officials say texting is the cause of about 16 percent of fatal car crashes involving teenagers. Moreover, 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve some sort of driver inattention, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Discuss these safety tips with your teens and set a good example by practicing these guidelines too.

  • Most important, let your kids know they need to obey the law. Texting is prohibited in most states. For more information on the texting laws in California visit the DMV website.
  • Make it clear – never text and drive. Let your teen know he should turn off his cell phone before he drives if necessary, to avoid temptation.
  • Check with your phone service provider and its app store. There may be an app you can download that prohibits sending and receiving texts when a car is in motion.
  • Have your teen to pull off the road, away from traffic, to use a cell phone to talk, text or use the Internet.
  • Let your teen know that if they’re riding in a car with a driver who is texting, they need to ask him or her to stop or not ride with that person again. Teens may be afraid to speak up to their friends – stress the importance of their safety, and how that should be their biggest concern.
  • Make consequences. If you catch your teen texting while driving, take away his or her driving privileges. Setting those ground rules will make them less likely to do it.
  • Discuss the major risks of other driving distractions too, such as grooming, eating, drinking or trying to reach something that has fallen on the floor.

For more on this timely topic, please visit the DMV website.

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