If your teenager had a new driver’s license, you have your work cut out for you. Trusting even a conscientious teen with a car is difficult, but there are dangers in today’s interconnected world that simply didn’t exist until recently. The distractions of a cell phone are chief among them.
Educating your teen about the dangers of distracted driving is vital to their safety. But what’s the best way to talk to your teen about texting and driving? Here are some tips that can help.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Texting while driving is a major problem in the United States, especially for younger, inexperienced drivers. According to a recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is more than 20 times as dangerous as driving with a cell phone in hand. It also resulted in the longest duration of eyes off the road at 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval. At 55 miles per hour, that means that a texting teen could drive the length of a football field without looking at the road. Put simply, texting and driving at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
As of January 2021, just holding a cell phone while driving is prohibited by Virginia state law. Virginia has joined 48 other states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands in passing laws that prohibit holding a cell phone or texting while driving. If you’re caught with a cell phone in hand while driving, you could be fined $125 for the first offense and $250 for a second offense.
Here are some additional statistics regarding texting and driving:
- Texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk.
- Despite cell phone driving laws, an estimated 80% of drivers still use their cell phones while driving.
- Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States.
- Texting while driving leads to the same response time as someone who consumed four beers in the last hour.
How to Talk to Your Teen About Texting and Driving
It’s important to have frank, open, and honest discussions with your teen about the dangers of texting and driving. Even more important, have them before you hand over the keys to the family car. Share statistics on texting and driving with them, set clear and concise expectations for how you expect them to behave behind the wheel, and describe specific consequences if they break the rules. The goal is to educate your teen so that they can fully understand without sounding threatening or patronizing.
Tips to Stay Safe on the Road
Here are some tips for new drivers, especially teens and their parents:
- Set a good example. Your teen will do as you do on the road, so if you don’t want them to text and drive, make sure you don’t either.
- Ask them to keep their phone silent and out of reach in the car. Even reaching for a cell phone can be dangerous. Consider asking your teen to keep their cell phone fully out of reach while behind the wheel.
- Stay involved. Driver’s education doesn’t teach everything, so stay observant and teach them as they drive.
Talk to a Virginia Car Accident Attorney
If your teen has been accused of texting while driving or reckless driving, the lawyers at Whitestone Young, PC, can help. We have over 40 years of experience protecting Virginians from criminal prosecution, and we can do the same for you and your family. Don’t let a traffic conviction affect your future. Call 703-591-0200 today for a free consultation.