Teaching your teenager not to drive while distracted

Getting a driver’s license is a big milestone for a teenager. It symbolizes freedom and independence. It means taking a step closer to adulthood. It signifies breaking away a little more from Mom and Dad. And it entails taking on the responsibility of operating a vehicle safely every time you get behind the wheel.

It also means not doing anything else while you are driving except focusing on driving. In other words, no texting, fiddling with the radio or GPS system, eating, using a cellphone, reading a map or having lively conversations with passengers, especially other teens.

Helping teenagers understand why distracted driving is so dangerous to them and to others is crucial. Taking your eyes off the road, even for a moment, can lead to a serious accident that causes injury, damage and possibly death. Failing to concentrate 100% when you are driving is just as hazardous. You can unintentionally go right through a red light at an intersection or hit a pedestrian just because you were not paying attention.

The statistics on distracted teen driving are concerning. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), “Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, drivers aged 15-19 were more likely to be distracted than drivers of any other age.” The CDC also notes that “Nine percent of all teens who died in motor vehicle crashes were killed in crashes that involved distracted driving.”

What can parents do to discourage their teen from driving while distracted?

  • Emphasize to your teenager the importance of avoiding distracted driving. Share some of the statistics on the subject when you have this discussion.
  • Inform yourself and your teen about South Dakota’s laws on distracted driving. Make clear that there are serious consequences for distracted driving.
  • Be a good role model for your teen by practicing safe driving habits at all times.

The best way to prevent getting into legal hot water because of distracted driving is just not to do it. Drivers of every age and experience level should always drive safely.

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