We read in the paper about teens getting into a car crash because they were texting while driving. We’ve seen the heart-breaking public service announcements about a teen’s last text before dying in a crash. Teens get a bad rap for texting and driving, yet more often I see adults driving while trying to dial a phone number, text, put on makeup, or hold their pet … often with small children in the backseat. What are we teaching our children and teens about distracted driving?
Everyone is busy and many of us are multi-taskers by nature. It’s tempting to want to pop off a quick text message to let someone know you are running late. It’s easy to make a fast phone call to the doctor’s office from the car to ask a question you might forget by the time you get home.
According to Distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, “Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include: texting; using a cell phone or smartphone; eating and drinking; talking to passengers; grooming; reading, including maps; using a navigation system; watching a video; adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player.”
So how do you keep your teenager from texting or talking on their cell phone while driving? For starters, you can set a good example. A teenager recently told me her mother drives with her knee while applying lipstick and talking on the phone at the same time. Maybe being a bad example will make this teenager go the opposite way; maybe not.
Another option is to get a cool app to help you out. Privus Mobile® has a Caller ID app that announces who a text is from. This way, a person can decide to ignore the text or to pull off to the side of the road to check the text and/or answer it. To learn more about this app to help end texting while driving, go to www.privusmobile.com/eyesontheroad.
Realize that being late to your destination is better than not arriving at all due to causing an accident because you had to do last-minute things in your car instead of at home. Thinking, “I can just call/text my friend back while I’m driving the kids to dance class” could be deadly and is something you can make a note about and do later.
Keep track of when your child is driving and check the phone bill at the end of the month. If it turns out your child is practicing distracted driving, decide on the consequences, such as taking away driving and/or other privileges.
More ways to avoid distracted driving include:
• Keep snacks and bottles of water in a place that the kids to get into if they need them instead of relying on you to dig around for them and pass them back.
• Pull over to soothe your baby instead of reaching back and trying to get a pacifier or bottle in his mouth.
• Rather than messing with the radio/CD player endlessly, leave it where it is or turn it off entirely.
• Stow your phone somewhere in the car where you can’t reach it and won’t be tempted to answer it.
Turning it off is also a good idea, so you won’t hear the ringing or dinging of it and get stressed out thinking it might be something urgent. Even using a headset is not necessarily safer, as your mind is still focused on the phone-call and not on the road.
Kerrie McLoughlin is the mom of five.