B Careful When U Txt & DriveBy Child Safety Specialist Jun 7, 2010 | 10:30:00 amPosted in: Child Safety, Family
It’s easy to see how texting can take over our lives. It makes for a quick check-in with friends and family. It’s also becoming the primary means of communication for our teens. The problem is that most of us don’t realize how texting while driving is a growing cause of death and injury on our roads.
Everyone from politicians to Oprah are imploring parents and teens to take action and stop texting and driving. The statistics are scary. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008 nearly 6,000 people were killed and more than a half million people were injured nationwide in crashes involving a distracted driver. While distracted driving can include many things, texting is a major culprit. The American Automobile Association reports that the risk of a car accident increases by 50 percent when a driver is text messaging. Teens are especially vulnerable. Sadly, when they start driving they feel invincible and over estimate their ability to handle distractions of any kind while driving. In a Pew Research Study, one-third of 16 and 17 year-olds who text admitted to doing so while driving. Typing or reading a text takes only a few seconds, a teen will argue, but another study conducted by Virginia Tech shows that 85 percent of crashes happen within three seconds of driver distraction.
So, what’s a parent to do?
Be a good role model!! – Put down the phone while you’re driving. My daughter has become a cell phone monitor and constantly reminds her babysitter to never text and drive. Visit Oprah’s site and take the No Phone Zone pledge http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/End-Distracted-Driving
Scare them straight – Last year an extremely graphic and disturbing PSA was released in the U.K. While it was fictionalized, the message and visuals demonstrate the reality of what could happen. You can check it out on YouTube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0LCmStIw9E
Back up your words – Many parents grow complacent with consequences and let their teen slide. A survey conducted by SADD and Liberty Mutual showed that 52 percent of teens who thought their parents would not follow through on rules used their cell phones while driving, as opposed to 36 percent who believed their parents would enforce their rules. Sign a contract with your teen in which you set the rules for driving. Here’s an example of one you can use: http://www.sadd.org/contract.htm
States are making a strong commitment to ban texting and driving. Nationwide, six states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving and twenty-one states have enacted texting bans. Know your state’s laws but regardless, talk to your teen often and stress this is truly a matter of life and death.
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