This story is sponsored by End Text Wrecks. Learn more about End Text Wrecks.
Distracted driving has been on the rise across the nation for a while now, and it’s not just texting. In fact, nearly 60 percent of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The last thing you want as a parent is to send a message to your children that distracted driving is OK. Here are five instances where you’re doing exactly that.
1. You text while you drive
The first way you’re encouraging your kids to text while they drive is by doing it yourself. In a survey by Online Schools, 48 percent of young drivers said they’d seen their parents drive while talking on a cellphone.
For many, you feel your phone vibrate or hear it chime while driving and the urge to check it eats at you. “One glance won’t hurt,” you think to yourself. “I’m aware of my surroundings.”
Meanwhile, each look at a new notification eases the compulsive feeling, simultaneously causing guilt because you know it’s against the law and you’ve heard the horror stories of accidents caused by distracted driving.
Yet somehow, some way, each time you check your device, it gets easier to justify looking at it again and again.
2. You check your phone at stoplights
You may not put this in the same category as texting while driving, but it’s certainly close. You stop at a red light and pop your device like whack-a-mole. The light turns green and down goes your phone until your next red light rendezvous.
3. You answer your phone in the car
So, maybe you don’t actually text while you drive, but you still talk on your phone while in the car. Studies show that response time is drastically reduced when talking on the phone while driving, regardless of whether it’s hands-free or not.
4. You’ve trained your kids to respond immediately
Your children have phones and can almost always be reached. You can keep tabs and get updates on their whereabouts easier than ever before. You’ve trained them to respond instantly to messages because you respond instantly anytime you have a new notification.
Perhaps you’ve unknowingly set an expectation for them to respond immediately, whether they’re in class, with friends, or worse — driving. When children feel this type of pressure they are more likely to bring the behavior with them into the driver’s seat.
5. You haven’t had a clear conversation with your kids about distracted driving
Sure, maybe you’ve mentioned it here or there, but you haven’t actually sat them down and had a heart-to-heart with them about it. Just like having a talk about drugs and alcohol, or the birds and the bees, you should talk to your children openly about using their phones while driving.
What you can do to change behavior
As a parent, you can show love for your children by communicating with them and setting expectations.
- Establish rules and consequences, letting them know how important it is to you that they are safe while on the road
- Watch a short video with them about what could happen
- Encourage them to call their friends out if they are a passenger in a vehicle where the driver is texting
- Show them it’s not OK through your example
- If they use their phones for music in the car, encourage them to hit play and put the phone away before the car is moving
You can get your kids involved in a good cause by taking a pledge not to text. You can take the pledge by dancing “the wookie” with them. For more information about dancing “the wookie” and putting an end to distracted driving, visit endtextwrecks.org.