Tips for keeping your teen safe
With the weather warming and gas prices declining, it seems inevitable that we’re heading towards a summer with hefty consequences.
As the National Safety Council made clear over Memorial Day Weekend, the season of dangerous teen driving behavior is upon us. And now with a new report that gas prices in Illinois are the lowest they’ve been in years, there’s reason to believe the summer of 2017 could potentially turn into one of the deadliest in recent memory.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and it starts by setting examples.
Recently, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) partnered with Liberty Mutual to look at both teen and adult driving behavior. What they found was disturbing, but not surprising: just as teens are prone to distracted driving behavior, adults engage in distracted driving behaviors more frequently than younger drivers. That’s according to SADD senior advisor Gene Beresin, who told the Tribune that parents are poor role models when it comes to using cellphones while driving.
According to stats compiled by SADD, 55% of surveyed parents admit they use apps while driving, compared to 62% who say they use their cellphone to check incoming calls or talk. One third of teens said they have asked their parents to stop using their phones while driving. Out of 1,000 parents surveyed, 50% admitted texting or calling their teen despite knowing that their son or daughter was on the road and behind the wheel.
Promoting safe driving habits is one thing, but failing to live up to those habits is worse. Take steps to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Establish parameters for the trip ahead
Any road trip is bound to include music, podcasts, or the radio. The best course of action is to curate your set-list in advance, staving off the temptation to change stations or fiddle with phones mid-drive. Take an opportunity to sit down with your teen and jot down a predetermined set of programming that requires little to no adjustments, at least while driving. Better yet, set your list and immediately toss the phone where it can’t be touched, e.g. the glove box.
Bluetooth is your friend
The beauty of tech is that there’s always something to look forward to. Most cars today are equipped with Bluetooth, allowing drivers to control their device hands-free. This is especially important for anyone using a navigation app to steer their course. Take the opportunity to investigate, install, and setup any navigation or incoming call settings to keep distractions at a minimum.
Incentivize good behavior
Money certainly isn’t the solution to all the world’s problems, but there’s something to be said for incentivizing good behavior. Some people will tell you that’s a bad idea, especially as it pertains to young kids. But once your child enters the teen years, there’s perhaps hope that their behavior won’t be influenced by the thought of receiving a reward. In that sense, consider some small but effective bonus for driving safely. It may require a bit of detective work as far as your teen’s phone is concerned (checking text timestamps and call logs, for example), but it may prove beneficial if it keeps them free of distractions and safe.
At the very least, mount the phone on the dash
Consider this a last resort. A very last resort. One of the things that Beresin pointed out to the Tribune was how challenging it is to suppress the effect of instant gratification. A text or a phone call is, in the minds of many, a gift waiting to be opened. Fighting off that temptation, especially when a parent is not around to supervise, may be too much to overcome for a teenage driver, barring your ability to lock the phone in the glove box and throwing away the key. In that sense, a phone mount for the console dash is, at the very least, a way to keep eyes focused towards the road. Fidgeting with a phone while looking down is never a good idea.