Few transitions are harder for parents than when a teenager gets their license and wants to start driving. All of a sudden, you have to let go of your sense of control while your child leaves home in a multi-ton machine capable of leaving them permanently injured or dead.
Despite all of the training required to get a license and the protection of car insurance, many parents worry quite a bit about their new drivers. Distracted driving is a common concern, as today’s young adults can’t seem to go more than a few minutes without picking up their phones.
There are apps parents can install to help deter phone use while driving and rules that you can introduce for your household that can have the same impact. Teaching your young driver to never handle their phone at the wheel is crucial, but you also need to educate yourself and them about other sources of distraction.
Multitasking is another risk
No adolescent should try to shave at the wheel or put mascara on at a stoplight. Eating breakfast, finishing homework or otherwise trying to do two things at once while driving is a very dangerous habit.
Explaining to young adults how anything that makes them let go of the wheel or take their eyes off the road is a distraction might help them make safer choices about what they do during their commute.
Passengers and entertainment
Cognitive distraction is a real risk on the road. Especially when someone only has a few months of driving practice, mentally focusing on a conversation, a song on the radio or a podcast might mean not fully focusing on traffic conditions.
Creating rules about how many other people can be in the vehicle with your teen driver is a good safety practice. Explaining that distraction doesn’t just involve screens could also help.
It’s also important for parents to understand that the behaviors they model themselves will likely have a stronger impact on their teenage drivers than the instructions they give verbally. Phasing out your own distracted driving practices can help you be a better example of how to avoid motor vehicle collisions.