This story is sponsored by End Text Wrecks. Learn more about End Text Wrecks.
For any parent, handing a teen a set of car keys is nerve-racking enough. When you consider the fact that 11 teenagers die each day from texting and driving, according to endtextwrecks.org, it’s downright terrifying. While you can’t be with your teens every time they’re behind the wheel, there are a few things you can do to keep them a little safer and less distracted on the road.
Be a good example
If your method of parenting is less leading by example and more “do as I say, not as I do,” you’re probably missing the mark in preventing your teen from texting and driving. USA Today reports that almost half of adults admit to texting while driving. If you want your teen to believe that calls, texts and mobile apps can wait until the car is safely stopped, consider yourself exhibit A.
Talk about it
For a teen who is fascinated by technology, a face-to-face, candid conversation might seem pretty old school, but having a frank talk with your children about the dangers of texting and driving can actually leave an impression on them — one that could save their lives. This can be particularly effective if you begin chatting with your teen about texting and driving well before they’re a licensed driver. While you may not want to use scare tactics with your child, talking about the real-life consequences of texting and driving is important and can help you drive the point home.
Establish rules and consequences
Your teen might have a license, but it’s important that he or she realizes that driving is not a right; it’s a privilege and one that only comes when certain requirements are met and rules are followed. Be specific in outlining your rules against texting and driving. For example, if teens want to preserve their driving privileges, their phones must be turned off and placed in the glove compartment any time they’re behind the wheel. It’s also important to set specific consequences if they break your rules. These could range from losing driving privileges for a few days or longer, depending on the severity of the infraction.
Test it out
You’ve set rules and consequences, but you’re not going to be sitting next to your teen each and every time they’re behind the wheel. Test it out by calling their cellphone at a time you know they’ll be driving. This will show you if the phone is turned on when it should be off. If your teen is allowed to have their phone on in the car, call from an unrecognized number to determine whether your teen is following your rules.
Turn to technology
In a perfect world, teens would obey their parents’ every rule. However, in this world, they might need a little help in that department. If you want to be sure your teen won’t be texting and driving, you can find a solution using the object of temptation itself — a mobile device. Several apps exist that limit the functionality of the phone while in a moving car. Do some research to find a solution that suits your needs and your budget.
Take the pledge together
At some point, you’re going to have to step back and trust your teen to make smart decisions when behind the wheel. Before that happens, take a pledge together to never text and drive. You can find printable contracts online through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For something a bit more fun, dance your pledge and upload your video at endtextwrecks.org. For a greater impact, share your videos on social media to promote safe driving among your friends and loved ones.