The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has named texting while driving one of the most dangerous distracted driving behaviors. Texting, along with navigating GPS, changing radio stations, eating, and talking to friends while driving are behaviors that most people have engaged in at some point in their driving career. However, it is important to keep in mind that distracted driving claims approximately 4,000 lives each year; and teens are the largest group of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.
Although the rates of distracted driving are declining among teens in general, there is more we can do to keep our teens safe and break the habit of technology use while driving.
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye; and reading just one text message takes a teenager’s eyes off the road for five seconds. Fortunately, several phone apps are currently available that will automatically block calls and texts that come in while a person is driving. Some apps have additional features, such as parent portals and notifications when the teen safely arrives at their destination. Other apps have reward systems built in that can award the user with popular gift cards for prolonged text-free driving.
Check to see if your teen’s phone has a do not disturb setting. When this setting is activated, and the phone detects driving, the driver will not be alerted to any calls or text messages that come through. However, the phone will send an automated reply to immediately notify the sender that the recipient is behind the wheel.
This setting can keep teens safe while making sure that friends do not have to wait for a reply. The do not disturb auto message can be customized and does not interfere with navigation features that a driver may need to reach their destination. Additionally, when a teen is a passenger in another vehicle, the setting can easily be turned off for the duration of the ride.
Although apps and phone settings are a good start, they will be ineffectual without parental involvement. We are probably all guilty of driving distracted, whether by looking at a map, programming a GPS, looking at a passenger instead of the road, or looking down to text. Parents must make clear that they have changed their driving habits and model that behavior for their children. If we don’t change our ways our message will look hypocritical. The point of modeling is not to pretend that we have never been guilty of distracted driving but to show that we, too, are trying to keep ourselves and children safe going forward.
Parents should make sure they remove themselves from the teen texting while driving problem by refraining from texting and calling children when they might be behind the wheel.
Talk to teens about the dangers of distracted driving. The NHTSA has several reports on teen driving that might serve as an eye opener. Additionally, it is extremely important to establish rules regarding texting while driving that are enforced by meaningful consequences. For example, if a parent portal on an installed app reports texting while driving, the teen will lose driving privileges for one week.
If you, your teen, or another loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact the Philadelphia and South Jersey car accident lawyers at Williams Cedar to discuss your needs and the compensation to which you may be eligible. Call 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777 today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey we serve clients throughout South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide.