We understand how hard it can be to get your teen’s attention when talking about avoiding dangerous lifestyle behaviors, like drinking, drugs and distracted driving. But just as you stress the importance of staying away from underage drinking and illegal drug use, the subject of distracted driving is something you can’t ignore. The consequences can simply be too devastating.  Many families find that the dinner table is a good place to have a discussion about safe driving techniques, and about what happens when people are distracted behind the wheel.

Here are some statistics and surprising facts to get your teen’s attention and a pledge never to drive while distracted.

The definition of distracted driving

Before getting into some of the more frightening statistics, have a conversation about what constitutes distracted driving. Experts define it as any action, other than driving, performed while driving. This includes eating, adjusting the radio or other car controls, putting on makeup, grooming hair, reaching for something, changing clothes, and of course, texting and talking on a cell phone. All these activities are dangerous, but driving safety experts say that texting is the most risky, because it requires both mental and visual attention over an extended time period.

As bad as drinking and driving

Shock your teen with this study, conducted by the University of Utah. Researchers compared drivers who use their cell phones to drunk drivers. They found that the impairments associated with using a cell phone can be just as profound as those associated with drunk driving. The reason for this is the significantly reduced reaction time when drivers are using their smartphones for any purpose at all, including talking, texting or posting. That slow reaction time can be comparably dangerous to that of a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs.

4 times the risk

According to the National Safety Council, the risk of a car crash is four times more likely when someone is using a cell phone while driving.

Over 3,000 fatalities

In 2013, the latest year for which statistics are available, distracted driving was responsible for more than 3,100 fatalities and 400,000 accidents.  The result is that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, exceeding deaths due to cancer, homicide or suicide.

Over four seconds of ‘blindness’

When people use their cell phones while driving, they take their eyes off the road for over 4 seconds. If the car is going 55mph, you’ll travel the length of a football field during those four seconds of blindness. Does that sound like an intelligent, reasonable thing to do?

Drive distracted, you might go to jail

If your son or daughter seems unmoved by statistics about fatalities or injuries, try appealing to their desire to be an independent driver. Explain that in many states, texting while driving is a serious traffic offense that can result in big penalties, including large dollar fines, suspended licenses, jail sentences, and demerit points which will show up on the motor vehicle record. Currently, New York, Utah, Maine, Wisconsin, and Alaska have the toughest penalties. In Utah, for example, the penalty is $750 and 90 days in jail. In Alaska, the penalty is $10,000 and one year in prison! Even if your state doesn’t yet have significant penalties like Utah or Alaska, explain that there are increasing efforts in most states to legislate harsher penalties for distracted driving violations. Let your teenagers know that penalties will be paid by them, and that you’ll rescind their driving privileges.

The Bottom Line

Drive distracted, lose your life, your college fund or your independence.

Make sure your teen understands the gravity of this issue, and get their written pledge to never engage in distracted driving. As well, consider a failsafe technology solution that eliminates the temptation for your teen to talk, text, email or post while driving. Cellcontrol puts you, the parent, in charge and enables your teen to focus only on driving while they’re behind the wheel. Contact us for more information on how the technology works.

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