Showing or telling.
Which is the more effective teaching tool?
When it comes to instilling safe driving habits in teens, the behavior parents exhibit behind the wheel is far more important than verbal rules.
That’s because parents are still teens’ No. 1 influence – even if they would deny it if asked.
As National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week approaches – Nov. 17-23 this year– it’s a good idea for parents to take a hard look at their own driving habits, as well as stress the importance of distraction-free driving to their teens.
While any distraction is a safety hazard, texting is the most alarming, according to distraction.gov, because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. In the average five seconds a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting, a car traveling 55 mph will travel the length of a football field, says a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
And it’s a growing problem.
Texting and driving has surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of teen deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking and driving claims 2,700 teen lives a year, while researchers from Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York report texting and driving eclipses that number at 3,000.
About 60 percent of American high school seniors say they have texted behind the wheel, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biennial survey of risky youth behaviors. A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving, says a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study.
Here are guidelines for drivers – no matter their age – from Stop the Texts Stop the Wrecks:
- Out of sight, out of mind. When you’re in the car, put your phone where you can’t get it. No phone. No texting.hone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re.
- Silence is golden. Turn notifications off. The less you hear your phone, the less tempted you’ll be to respond while you’re driving.
- Designate a texter: Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.
- Find your app. Apps are available that can block incoming calls/texts/emails and send an automatic response or read texts and emails aloud and allow the driver to respond by voice.
Need even more motivation?
Texting and driving is illegal at any age in Louisiana. Fines for first offense are up to $175 and $500 for subsequent offenses. Do you really have something to say that’s worth that much money?
For more information on ThinkFirst of the Ark-La-Tex, log on to www.thinkfirstlouisiana.org , and call 318-226-0066. For more information on teen driver safety, check out www.facebook.com/arklatexthinkfirst and @TFDriveSmart.