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Teaching your teen to drive distraction-free

You teach your children to be a safe on the road. When they first learned to ride a bike, you showed them proper hand signals, insisted they wear a helmet and taught them how to watch for cars. Now that your child has grown into a teenager, they are ready to get behind the wheel of a car. Just as you did when teaching them bicycle safety, you’ve gone over the rules of the road and cautioned them against bad weather and negligent drivers. They know to watch for motorcycles and pedestrians while driving.

Despite all of this, you are still nervous about your child driving off on their own. You know that accidents can happen, but this right of passage is going to happen whether you are ready for it or not. April has been dubbed Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which gives you another perfect excuse to set rules and talk safe driving habits with your teen.

How do you start?

The term distracted driving seems pretty obvious, but the ways in which motorists become distracted vary. You probably immediately thought of your teen and their smartphone. This makes sense considering texts and calls make up a large majority of distracted driving accident causes, but there are other actions to take into account.

Start by explaining to your child what distracted driving actually is. Distracted driving encompasses any actions that pull a driver’s focus from the road. This can mean a motorist takes their eyes off of the road, occupies their hands with a chore or thinks about another task.

What should you do about it?

Set rules for your newly-licensed driver in order to help avoid a car crash. Talk to them about eating or drinking while driving. Sure rolling through the drive thru and chowing down on a burger while in route is convenient, but the act of eating pulls focus. Purchase a holder for their phone or GPS if they are going to use one for navigation purposes. Make sure that it is displayed in a way that allows them to keep their eyes forward. They should know to set their destination before the vehicle is in motion, and to pull over if they need to make changes. Ask them to utilize applications on their phone that mutes correspondence while they drive. Lastly, talk to them about having friends in the vehicle. Rowdy passengers and conversations can easily distract a driver. Your teen should be encouraged to set rules with their friends.

When in doubt, remind them that hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and ears listening for sirens is the best driving stance to avoid an accident.

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