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In just 18 short months, Michael will be able to get his learner’s permit for driving.
While this makes me nervous, what really scares me is the state of other drivers “out there.” It seems that most of the people I see while driving are busy–too busy.
Applying makeup, staring (literally) at their phone while texting or surfing the internet, eating lunch.
The Virginia Transportation Institute reported that teen drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
This is in addition to the fact that they’re new drivers making mistakes, making slower decisions, and still learning the rules of the road.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Auto Alliance want to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. The Orthopaedic surgeons are the specialists who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and traumas. The Auto Alliance is the voice for the auto industry. They are coming together to help all drivers “decide to drive” each time they get in the car and to keep bones and limbs intact.
If you’re like I was, you check your phone while driving.
I’m the only one on this road.
I’m close to home.
It’ll just take me a second to respond.
I can stay focused on driving.
I just need to check this quick.
Put your phone down until your car is parked.
Your kids are watching, and soon they’ll be driving and your bad habits will be theirs.
They won’t think to speak up to friends who are driving and texting because they’ll be used to it–they’ll think it’s ok, and it’s not.
Talk to your teens about driving and how important it is. Tell them about the accidents you see on the news because people are texting and driving.
Here are three ways to help your teen stay safe while driving and riding along as a passenger.
1. Give them permission to call you out. Kids are polite and respectful. They won’t tell parents if we’re doing something wrong. Give your kids permission to remind you (politely) that you shouldn’t be using your phone while driving. Have them remind you to decide to drive.
2. Empower them to call their friends out. Talk to your kids about ways they can ask their friends to not use their phones while driving. It’s not easy to be the one kid in the car who speaks up, and they’re not going to say, “please put down your phone.” Give your kids real-life statements they can say to their friends.
Dude, are you texting? Put the phone down!
Let me see your phone. I’ll respond for you.
3. Decide to drive. The most advanced safety feature of any car is the driver. Stress the importance of putting down their phone, keeping their eyes on the road, and keeping their hands on the wheel.
The Decide to Drive campaign helps to increase awareness about the risks of distracted driving. Their website is full of information and resources for teens and their parents. Here’s a sample of what you can find there:
- Send an anonymous email containing a Wreck-less Checklist to someone you know who needs a reminder about not driving while on their phone
- Read first-hand reports of dangerous distracted driving crashes
- Download wallpaper for your phone or computer and find a toolkit to change your social media profile picture
- Need videos to help reach your teen? Here they are.
Michael and I are both working on putting our phones down–I’m doing it while in the car, and he’s doing it when others are having a conversation (so he can be part of that conversation). We help each other stay accountable.
How are you setting an example for your teen?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.