When a teenager obtains a driver’s license, it is both an exciting and anxious time for a parent or caregiver. Although it is natural to feel excited about witnessing the teenager growing into a young adult, it can be as natural to worry about the added responsibility and independence the teenager inherits with maturity. There are many reasons for parents and caregivers to be concerned for their teens’ safety.
Along with the typical concerns that parents have had for decades, the current age of technology poses a serious threat for young drivers. Twenty-five percent of teens admit they text at least once while driving. Young drivers account for 27 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. Drivers who are reaching, dialing, talking and texting on cell phones while driving are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who ignore their phones while driving. On average, drivers who text while driving, take their eyes off the road for five seconds. That does not seem like a lot of time, however, at 55 mph that is enough time to cover the length of a football field.
In addition to laws that ban all cell phone use (hand-held and hands-free) for drivers of all ages, the state of Georgia has laws specifically aimed at drivers under the age of 18 who use their cell phones while driving.
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
Although there is nothing that parents and caregivers can do to alleviate all the worry that is associated with raising teenagers, there are steps that they can take to minimize it.
CHOG suggests that parents and caregivers approach their teenagers with the subject of distracted driving. It is important to communicate the seriousness of the responsibility of driving so that teenagers understand that they have a responsibility to protect not just themselves, but other drivers and passengers as well.
- Discuss and define the meaning of a safe driver
- Set ground rules for driving and stick with them
- Make a Family Pledge.
- Familiarize your teenager with state laws and the consequences of breaking them
- Encourage your teenage driver to pull over to use a cell phone
- Communicate your reasons for concern
- Set the example by ignoring your cell phone while driving
- Practice by engaging in “no cell phone” family trips
Taking these steps will help minimize the risk to your teenaged driver.
For more information on CHOG visit the website at augustahealth.org/chog or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).
Sources: Distraction .gov