A driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage for teenagers, but it’s also an incredibly dangerous one. The crash rates for teen drivers are roughly four times higher than those of adults, and traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for their age group.
What’s more, is according to the CDC, drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. From having their friends in the car to their smartphones, teens are perpetually surrounded by tempting distractions. Here are some of the most common distracted driving behaviors of teens and how you can teach them to avoid them while driving:
Friends in the car
Teenagers having other teens in the vehicle is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 16 and 19. While experienced adult drivers can anticipate problems on the road with passengers in their vehicle, teen drivers don’t yet have the skill set to make the same driving decisions with friends distracting them.
The solution: Wait until your teen has had their license for at least one year before permitting them to drive around with friends. You might also consider placing a limit on the number of friends they can have in their vehicle.
While most teens are aware of the dangers of texting or using social media while driving, many of them continue to do it anyway. But when coupled with a teen’s inexperience with driving, cell phone use while driving can be especially deadly. In one crash study, 52% of teenage drivers admitted to reading an email or text while driving.
The solution: Teach your teens to finish their calls or texts before getting on the road and silencing their notifications. Be sure to lead by example with this one – your words won’t mean much if you engage in this behavior yourself.
Listening to music
While driving and listening to music go hand in hand, teens adjusting their radio or electronic device on the road is a big distraction. If it’s too loud, listening to music can also make it challenging to hear essential cues in traffic, such as a horn or sirens of an emergency vehicle.
Teach your teenagers to set their radio on the station they want or select a playlist on their phone, so they do not have to touch their device while driving. Also, have them keep the volume low enough to not interfere with important noises on the road.
Emphasize to your kids that their main priority while driving should always be focusing on the road. Talk to them about these common distractions and show them how to avoid them and stay safe.