Tips For Helping Your Teen Be a Safer Driver and Not Drive While Distracted

When your teen gets their license, it’s a bittersweet milestone for many families. While it marks a big step in your teen’s independence and no more chauffeuring for you, it can be difficult to let your child navigate the busy San Antonio roads on their own.

As you sit down with your teen and talk about your rules and expectations about driving, don’t forget to talk about distracted driving. While there are laws in place to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents, the San Antonio area experiences thousands of crashes each year. Here are some ways to educate and protect your teen.

Know the Facts

In 2017, a state law passed to make texting or reading/writing an email on your mobile device illegal while behind the wheel. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones at all while driving, and it’s unlawful to use a handheld device while driving in school zones.

Despite the laws and efforts to prevent distracted driving accidents, the Texas Department of Transportation reported that 18 percent (95,572) of all crashes in 2018 involved a distracted driver. TxDOT estimates that as of May 2019, 21 deaths were directly related to distracted drivers, 150 drivers caused an accident because they were on their cell phones, and more than 10,000 accidents were directly related to a distracted driver.

Even if your teen driver doesn’t drive while distracted, there’s still a risk that they could be involved in a distracted driving accident.

Have an Open and Honest Discussion about Driving 

When you have a busy teen, it’s difficult enough to sit down and have dinner together, let alone have a discussion about driving. Even if your teen is less than willing to sit down and talk about how to drive safely, it’s an important thing to do as a parent and to keep your teen safer while on the road.

When discussing distracted driving, avoid scare tactics. Instead, try to stick to statistics. Talk about real-world consequences for distracted driving. While being involved in a fatal accident is the worst-case scenario for many teens, it’s also important to talk about fines associated with driving distracted, a bad driving record, and other legal ramifications for driving while distracted. 

If your teen driver causes a fatal accident, their employment future and even qualifying for scholarships may also be affected.

Set Rules and Make a Pledge

Aside from following state laws for teen drivers, you may want to consider making your own driving rules for your household. Many families have success with creating a driving pledge, and having all drivers sign it. There are plenty of online safe driving pledges if you want to print one or need some ideas for inspiration.

Remind your teen that eating while driving, listening to music, chatting with passengers, and even taking a selfie at a stoplight, are all considered forms of distracted driving.

Be a Good Role Model

One of the most important steps of keeping your teen driver safe and help them reduce their chances of being involved in a distracted driving accident is to be a good role model. Don’t have certain expectations for your teen driver, such as wearing a seat belt, adhering to the speed limit, and staying off their cellphones, unless you’re willing to do the same.

Teach Your Teen to Speak Up

Peer pressure for teens is an ongoing problem, even behind the wheel. Many teen drivers are challenged by their peers to engage in a social media challenge while driving or to use apps like SnapChat. Not only do these actions violate driving laws, but increase the chance of an accident.

Remind your teen that they never need to (or should) ride with friends who don’t drive safely. Encourage your teen to speak up or talk to an adult they can trust if they feel unsafe while riding with others.

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