6 Things Parents Need to Know to Prevent Distracted Driving

teen distracted driving

If your teen is driving, you must read this article about how to help prevent them from driving while distracted. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

If there is one thing that parents today have to think more than their parents ever did, it has to be distracted driving.  Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize the problem or the danger because it wasn’t something they had to deal with when they were teens.  But the numbers don’t lie.  Current estimates put the number of car accidents that involve some kind of distracted driving at 10% of all accidents.  While many of us think of texting as the primary culprit, new research indicates that dialing the phone is even more dangerous.  The bottom line is that anything that distracts the driver’s attention from the road increases the likelihood that an accident will occur and therefore the best way to keep kids safe in cars is to limit all distractions.

Here are some things parents need to know to help prevent this dangerous behavior.

1.     You Are a Role Model

While most of the focus on distracted driving is geared towards teens, they aren’t the only ones who aren’t keeping their full attention on the road.  Parents can set the tone and set an example by providing their children with good driving role models which includes leaving your phone alone and keeping your eyes on the road.

2.     Dialing is Just as Bad as Texting

While texting gets most of the attention, research shows that making phone calls, especially if it requires dialing the phone, is actually more likely to cause an accident than texting.

3.     Even a Second Can Matter

An average text message takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds.  Think about driving with your eyes closed and then count to five for an idea of what this really means.

4.     Headsets Don’t Help

Many states have passed laws limiting the use of cell phones by drivers to those that provide hands-free functionality.  Unfortunately, research has shown this doesn’t do much to solve the problem.  A study from the University of Utah found that using a cell-phone while driving, even if it is hands-free, results in the same delayed reaction times that are seen in drivers who are legally drunk.

5.     It’s More Than Texting and Talking

Texting and talking on the phone are well-known causes of distracted driving, but they are not the only things that divert our attention from the road.  These other behaviors can provide the same level of dangerous distraction even though they don’t get the same level of attention.

  • Using your GPS
  • Eating or Drinking
  • Using an iPod or other music device
  • Changing the radio or CD
  • Reading a map or directions
  • Doing anything on your smartphone

6.     You Might Be Part of the Problem

Teenagers get a bad rap but how many times have you texted or called your teen when you know they are driving?  Part of setting a good example is allowing yourself to be distracted while driving but part of it is helping others do the same.

Make sure the next news report you hear about distracted driving doesn’t involve yourself or your teenager.  Take the Distraction-Free Driving Pledge offered as part of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) awareness campaign and help everyone in your family arrive alive.

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