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A Msg 4 Teens—Pls Don't Txt WhIl Drivin

Teen texting while driving

I assure you, the title of this article is not gibberish. If you don't understand, let me run it through transl8it: A Message for Teens—Please Don't Text While Driving. Make sense now?

ICYMI (In case you missed it), this is National Teens "Don't Text and Drive" Week. In reality, it could just be National "Don't Text and Drive" Week, because distracted driving is a problem for more age groups than just the under-20 set. According to 2011 National Highway Safety Administration statistics, 385 people died in crashes where cell phones were the cause of distraction. But when you consider just drivers age 15 to 19, distracted driving was the cause of 11% of fatal crashes. Of vehicular deaths, that's the largest percentage caused by distracted driving of any demographic.

In fact, vehicles are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds according to the California Highway Patrol. Why? Teenagers are still learning. They make rookie mistakes. AISI (As I see it), superior driving skills are developed through repeated experiences of driving in cities, heavy traffic or inclement weather. Even though I've held a driver's license for 15 years, there are still situations that make me feel apprehensive behind the wheel.

…Drivers age 15 to 19, distracted driving was the cause of 11% of fatal crashes.

Teens have also grown up in an era of instant communication. They don't know a time where you found out who called from an answering machine when you got home. Notice I didn't say wait to find out. IIRC (If I remember correctly), I never had any idea if someone was going to call me or not when I was a teen. A blinking answering machine was an awesome surprise. Now teens engage in continual text exchanges where the recipients expect replies. For teens, waiting to answer a text needs to be a lesson and is a learned behavior.

What's a parent to do? First of all, lead by example. Don't use your phone while driving. Next, talk with your kids and enforce the rule of no cellphone use while driving as automatically as you do checking the rearview mirror and buckling a seatbelt. The Governor's Highway Safety Association offers great tips for managing the cellphone distraction. Here's what you can suggest:

  • Turn your phone off. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. If you can't hear it ring, buzz or vibrate, you aren't tempted to answer.
  • Let your contacts know that you'll soon be driving and unavailable. There are even apps for that.
  • If you must text or make a call, pull over. The state of New York is even creating roadside "Text Stops" to help curb the behavior.
  • Have your passengers answer your phone. If your phone rings while driving, and you need to answer, let your passenger pick it up.

Let teens know it's important to be safe AMAP (as much as possible) while driving. The fewer distracted drivers, the safer we all are on the road.

Be cautious and conscientious behind the wheel. Thx (Thanks).

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