Texting and Driving Facts
As a parent, you know one of the most dangerous and tempting distractions to teen drivers are cell phones. But did you know that talking and texting while behind the wheel can be deadly? Consider these important texting and driving facts:
- Research tells us that teens have the reaction time of a 70-year-old when distracted while driving.
- Crash risk is four times higher when a driver uses a cell phone, whether or not it’s hands-free, according to recent research.
- Many states have instituted a ban on driver hand-held cell phone use (both talking and texting).
- 66 percent of teens say their parents influence their cell phone use in the car, more than the law.
Let your teen driver know that using a cell phone while driving is only acceptable in an emergency (and only then, by pulling over to answer it). Be sure to emphasize that texting behind the wheel is never okay. Many believe that a hands-free device is the answer. It’s not. According to studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), crash risk is four times higher when a driver uses a cell phone, whether or not it's hands-free. Apparently the danger is not just from the typing. It’s from the distracting conversation or messaging.
Don’t be surprised when teens tell you they can text easily – you’re just old. They don’t have to think about it like you do. Explain that it’s not just what their fingers are doing; it’s that their mind is on the text, not the road.
Provide your teen with practical alternatives to talking or texting on a cell phone while driving:
- Complete any call or text before starting the car.
- Get directions and try to visualize where you’re going before turning the key.
- Check in with friends or parents only after arrival.
- Pull over for urgent calls.
Remember, be sure to practice what you preach: Never talk or text on a cell phone while driving. Your teen will learn what’s acceptable by your actions.
Learn more about this risk, including the cell phone laws in your state.