The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds us to be aware of the risks that teen drivers face every time they get behind the wheel.  Drivers ages 15 to 20 years old, are especially vulnerable to death and injury on our roadways.  Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America.  According to NHTSA, mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.  Also, teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, even though they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state. 

It is parents’ responsibility to protect their teens.  They should first set the example of safe driving while their children are small.  If they text while driving or drive aggressively, chances are, the youngster may adopt their habits.  Because it’s the law, seat belt use begins with babies, who are safely restrained in their car seats.  It’s only logical that they should be in the habit of buckling up since they have been doing so all their lives; however, the fact is that teens buckle up less frequently than adults.  In 2009, the majority of young people 16 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled – 56 per cent. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that they will not rest until they stop distracted driving.  Their main effort is to work with private and public entities as well as advocacy groups to tackle distracted driving.  Please teach your teens to put their cell phones down and pay attention to the task at hand – driving! 

Here are five ways to get drivers to stop texting: 

1.      The direct approach.  Tell the driver that it makes you nervous to ride with someone texting and driving.  Hopefully, they will put down the phone.

2.      The subtle approach.  If you are uncomfortable telling a driver to quit texting, try offering to text for him/her.  Also, point out things the driver may have not seen, but barely missed, such as a pedestrian or other car.

3.      The “Wow, look at that bad driver!” approach.  Point out drivers who wander over into the next lane, or drive too slowly, run a stop sign, or stop at a green light.

4.      The group approach.  If your entire group feels the driver is a hazard, make a plan together.  Either take away the driver’s keys, or agree not to ride with that person.  When several people boycott a driver, he or she will get the message.

5.      The life-saving approach.  If someone continues to text and drive or mocks you for worrying about it, don’t ride with that person.  Tell them your parents won’t let you ride with anyone who texts and drives. 

There’s a current advertisement for a car that senses different driving situations (sleepy driver, other driver distractions, etc.).  This is a great safety feature; however, frightening, that we would depend on a vehicle to pay attention to the things we should watching for.  Our suggestions are for all drivers – not just teens.  There are many other causes of car crashes caused by distracted driving, such as loud music, drowsy driving, nighttime driving, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Cars can be dangerous machines if the steering wheel falls into the wrong hands. 

Finally, think about how many other drivers are taking your life into their hands by either talking or texting on their cell phones while meeting or approaching you.  Repeating the message from the Department Of Transportation: put that phone down or turn it off!  Get your teens into the habit of waiting to retrieve their messages when they arrive safely at their destination.

Source: NHTSA, DOT,