Distraction and Teen Crashes: Even Worse than We Thought

What Can Parents Do to Keep Their Teens Safe?

According to the NHTSA, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers 14-19 years old in the United States. This is a horrifying fact that parents of teen drivers have to face. The challenge is not only teaching teens to be safe and responsible drivers but trusting your teen to actually take the steps needed to safely operate a vehicle and avoid accidents. Rosenberg & Gluck, LLP recognizes the struggles parents deal with regarding their teen drivers and we encourage parents to learn more about what they can do to prevent their teens from future accidents.

There is no surprise that the leading cause of teen accidents is distractions. Whether teen drivers are talking or texting on cellphones or simply chatting with passengers, distractions play a larger role than previously thought in automobile accidents and were responsible for about 6 of every 10 moderate to severe crashes according to a recent AAA report. The statistics are alarming:

  • 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.
  • According to an AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
  • 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
  • Teen drivers are 4x more likely than adults to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone.
  • A teen driver with only one additional passenger doubles the risk of getting into a fatal car accident. With two or more passengers, they are 5x as likely.

BEAT TECHNOLOGY DISTRACTIONS WITH TECHNOLOGY:  

While all parents wish they had an opportunity to monitor every move their teen makes, (especially while driving), technology may bring parents a little closer to that wish. Some car manufacturers are launching “Teen Mode” safety features to monitor and control speed as well as provide parents with driving results. There are also several mobile apps that help discourage distracted driving for teens. By implementing these apps, teens can be monitored as to their driving behavior which includes texting and phone call activity. There are other apps that automatically default the phone into a “safe mode,” disabling incoming alerts as well as locking the home screen. A few of the major cell phone carriers also offer free apps that block calls and texts when it senses the car is in motion. This type of technology is worth exploring and implementing.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE AS A DRIVER:  

We as parents are not immune to driving distractions either. It is not only our responsibility to reinforce the importance of concentrating specifically on the road while behind the wheel, but to refrain from participating in distracting behaviors ourselves! After all, our children often imitate our actions.

DON’T GIVE-IN TO YOUR DIFFICULT TEEN & STOP ASKING QUESTIONS:  

Teens have a way of wearing down their parents to submission. Stay on top of your teen. Ask questions, know where they are driving, and who they are with. Establish driving rules and put limitations on your teen driver. Driving may give teens the freedom to go places by themselves, but as the parent, you are still ultimately in charge of when and where they are allowed to drive. Also, take the time to pull up articles that are featured in the news daily of teenage car crashes and causes. Keep it real and make sure they know that they are not invincible and that they are accountable.