Although devastating, it is not shocking that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20 in the United States. It also is not surprising that many of these deaths were caused by distracted driving, which can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
Parents like to believe that their teenagers would never text, message or use apps while driving. Given what is at stake, it becomes vital to have that conversation with them about putting the cell phone away.
Teenagers tend to act more impulsively and emotionally than adults, primarily because humans don't have neurologically adult brains until their mid-20s. This means that even the smartest teen may impulsively grab for the phone while driving - whether it is to send a message, take a selfie for Snapchat or Instagram or play a game, such as Pokémon Go.
Parents can talk to their teens about the driving while using cell phone apps. Instead of a lecture about the dangers of this practice (since we know teenagers think they are indestructible), ask open-ended questions and really discuss the issue. Additionally, you can incorporate the following practices for all family members - adults too:
- Use apps before you drive - Set your music, Google directions and put online conversations on hold before starting the engine.
- Remove the temptation - Hide your phone while driving, or give it to one of your passengers. Turn off the sound so you won't be tempted to check notifications.
- Pull over - Whether you get an important call or need to re-check directions, pull over somewhere safe if you need to give your phone your undivided attention.