distracted texting teen

Coming Soon, Texting your Way to a Fine

Quite a few states have jumped on the bandwagon about banning driving while talking on the cell phone. However, the growing trend of texting while driving has caused lawmakers, especially in New York to go back to the drawing board to include texting in that ban. And after the recent fatal accident where five teens were killed, with texting as a likely culprit, the heat is really on to get the new ruling passed.

The question remains, “Will a ban on texting really help prevent accidents?” No one really knows for sure and as a result, the proposed law change is getting some mixed reviews. Some people feel that the wireless industry is not doing enough to advertise the dangers of cell phone use while driving. However, others feel that it all boils down to practicing basic defensive driving skills.

People hear that talking on the cell phone and texting has caused accidents and killed people, yet they do not hinder their own actions. Why is that? It’s just like smoking. You know that it is hazardous to your health, yet you do it anyway. The same principle applies with cell phones. Are our lives so busy and competitive that we cannot miss a single moment with our cell phones? How did we ever get along twenty or thirty years ago?

Another part of the problem is how to keep the teenagers from texting while driving. Many of them admit to doing it and know it is dangerous and still do it anyway. At some point, we have to accept responsibility for ourselves. In the case of teenagers who are still feeling their way around the whole driving thing, the parents are going to have to be the guiding force in appropriate driving behavior in teens. Of course, that means that they will have to clean up their own acts so that they can lead by example.

It is because people know better yet do it anyway that is precipitating this texting inclusion in the existing cell phone law. Sometimes, we have to help those who refuse to help themselves. And if it takes imposing fines to get the point across, so be it. The problem is that no one truly knows how much of an impact this law will make on saving lives. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Engaging Teens Does Work for Driving Safety

Allstate Insurance Company recently awarded fifty $1,000 awards to various organizations that promote safe driving for teens. National Youth Traffic Safety Month was declared for the first time this past May. Allstate Insurance teamed up with NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety) and issued a challenge to these different youth organizations to come up with campaigns that could help decrease the number of fatalities and injuries due to teenage driving.

You might say that many teens all over the country took to the challenge and managed some creative, educational ways to promote safe driving for teenagers. How many lives has this effort saved so far? No one knows the answer. However, this $50,000 incentive has challenged teenagers to come up with solutions and essentially has put them in the driver’s seat. What better way than to engage teens at the very thing that is the problem?

By empowering teens to come up with solutions on how to save the lives of other young drivers, you are actually opening their eyes to the fact that maybe their own actions and habits are not safe either. This is actually a pretty ingenious move on behalf of Allstate Insurance and the National Organizations for Youth Safety. Everyone knows that teens sometimes just pretend to hear adults and lectures often go in one ear and out the other. However, by putting them in charge of coming up with their own solutions to this growing teenage driving problem, these teens are getting quite an education on their own and often will fix their own habits without prompting.

This contest likely brought many teenagers face to face with their own mortality and they probably did not like it. After all, most teens feel that they are invincible and have all the time in the world. Well, when preparing for this contest, these teens likely learned about the appalling statistics on the death rate of teenage drivers and how many of these accidents could have been prevented. That kind of eye-opener tends to make most people, especially impressionable teens, sit up and take notice.

An adult relaying this information will likely be met with eye-rolling and “yeah, whatever’s.” However, when you empower your teen to come up with this information on their own, well, they appreciate it all the more. Allstate Insurance and NOYS deserve some kudos for protecting new teenage drivers on the road. Now, let’s hope that your teens sit up and take notice too.

Helpful Tips for Parents of New Teen Drivers

Ok, listen up parents! It is up to you to help your teenager become a better driver. That means some sacrifices on not only their part but yours as well. In other words, you have to take the time for extra instruction (besides what a driving school will go over). After all, aren’t a few extra hours a good investment in your teen’s future?

While your teen is ultimately responsible for his or her driving, you can help lay the building blocks for a safe, spotless driving record. Now before getting into the different helpful tips, just remember this: lead by example. How do you expect your own teenager to obey traffic laws on important safety measures if you don’t do the same? That means no unnecessary speeding, no rolling through stop signs and no multi-tasking while driving.

Ok, with the mini-lecture over, here are some of those helpful tips you should consider when teaching your teenager how to drive:

  • Begin your first driving lesson by not leaving your driveway. Go over each and every button, lever and knob that your teen driver would have to operate. Go through simulations on how to use them, especially without looking. Obviously, the safest recourse on the road is to operate those gadgets without taking your eyes off the road.
  • Don’t rush progress. Automatically hopping into a busy neighborhood or even on the highway is a no-no with new drivers. Choose a large parking lot and set up cones in different configurations. Practice backing up into a parking space; learn parallel parking. Practice driving in reverse.
  • Once the parking lot trials are over, segue into streets with light traffic. You may have to get up early in the morning or try later in the evening to avoid the heavy commuter traffic or lunch time traffic.
  • After you feel comfortable with your teen’s driving on light traffic streets, take a valium (just kidding!) and start your teen’s first lesson on the highway.
  • Keep in mind that your teenager will feel self-conscious driving with you at first. Foster an open communication with him or her. Ask questions that need replies. This will keep the comments rolling.
  • Plan your driving journeys in advance and give your teenager advance warning when he or she needs to turn.
  • Most importantly, keep your cool. You teen will not be an effective driver if you get upset.

Many of the helpful tips above are easy to remember and much of it is common sense. However, it does bear repeating as often as necessary. And while you are teaching your teenager to drive, start looking into driving schools for them so they can gather even more experience in a safe setting without your presence.

Create your own customized Parent-Teen Driving Contract online based on the recommendations from the Driver Education Handbook for Parents. Our interactive tool will help you and your teen compose a practical contract of rules regarding driving expectations and car privileges that both parties can agree on.

A Lesson a Driver-in-Training Will Never Forget

We all know that inexperienced teen drivers are dangerous to themselves and others. The statistics are very real. Auto crashes are the number one killer of young people, and yet teens continue to believe the worst won’t or can’t happen to them. For most teens, it would take the worst happening to them to learn about safe driving the hard way. That is exactly what happened to one teenager last week, in a tragic turn of events that will most likely haunt his life forever.

A 15-year-old teen driver from Oroville, California, killed his own mom when his driving inexperience led to a horrific crash. The Northern California teen driver was behind the wheel of the family car, being given driving lessons, when a maneuver he made caused the car to crash into a drainage ditch 10 feet wide and 5 feet deep. In the front passenger seat was his stepfather, while his mom and her new baby were in the backseat.

All escaped with minor injuries, except for the teen’s mother, who was pronounced dead at the hospital. The teen suffered cuts to his hand, while his stepfather fractured his collarbone. The baby in the back seat was unharmed. Though all were wearing seat belts, the force of the collision combined with lack of airbags in the backseat resulted in the injuries to the teen’s mother.

How could such a sad event unfold? Apparently, while driving around, the teen’s stepfather made the remark to “turn right here.” Unfortunately, inexperience means that the teen probably misunderstood the instructions to take a right turn as instructions to turn right away, or right now. This miscommunication came at a huge cost.

While it is easy to see how an crash such as this occurred, it is another reminder of how big a role lack of experience plays in the deadliness of crashes caused by teen drivers. It makes one wonder if driving lessons and all hours of training behind a wheel should be done on controlled courses. However, in that instance, teens wouldn’t gain the experience that teaches them what it’s really like to deal with the distractions and frustrations of real-world driving.

There is no doubt in my mind that this young man will feel at fault in his mother’s death, though it seems to me to be nothing more than a very tragic, ill-timed crash.

teen driving guidelines

Take a Contract Out with your Teenager

The statistics have been repeated often enough – car accidents account as the biggest killer of teenagers in the country. The recent article in The Tribune states that parents could be unwittingly contributing to the cause of these accidents. How? It’s easy enough to figure out. Not that many parents have strict guidelines for their teens in regards to driving.

Parents – it is your job to communicate the rules of the road and by that, the article meant those rules that you don’t learn in a driver’s education course. With teenagers, you cannot assume anything. You may think they understand that texting and driving at the same time is dangerous. However, you have to actually vocalize it in order for them to recognize and remember it.

The same thought applies to a number of different scenarios. That is why the recent article in The Tribune states that parents should have a contract with their teenage driver. If there is a special set of delineated rules that both parents and teenagers should follow, there is less chance of failure. The key to success is for parents to work with their teens to create these rules together. Parents – you may be pleasantly surprised at how many teenagers “get it”. They just have to practice “it”.

While many parents and teens know how the basic rules should be, it doesn’t hurt to review them again. For instance, not that many teenagers may realize that night driving is particularly hazardous to a fairly new driver. What they should know is that seat belts are a must. Teenagers should not even put the car in gear unless each and every person was wearing a seat belt, even the friends in the back seat.

For the ultimate contract with your teenager, you as the parent must promise to adhere to the same rules. In other words, you have to be a good driving role model for your teenager. Of course, most adults are set in their ways, so it will actually take more effort on your part to keep your act together while driving on the road. Can you keep both eyes on the road and avoid using your cell phone while driving? Will you be able to adhere to all driving laws and avoid those California rolls through stop signs and blatant red light running?

As parents, you should not wait to convey all of these driving rules of the road. Start talking about safe driving practices with your kids before they get old enough to drive. And practice what you preach. That is the bottom line to maintain driving legitimacy in your teen’s eyes.