How to help your teen avoid the risks of texting and driving

There are certain steps parents can take to help their teen avoid the risks associated with texting and driving.

In the U.S., including here in Massachusetts, distracted driving accidents injure and take the lives of many on a daily basis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, more than 1,153 people are injured and more than nine people are killed in car crashes that involve a distracted driver. Although all age groups are at risk for distracted driving, this problem is particularly prevalent among younger drivers. For example, the Federal Communications Commission states that of drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 who were in a car accident, 11 percent admitted that they had been either reading or composing text messages at the time of the collision.

Since distracted driving, particularly texting and driving, poses a severe danger to teenagers, parents of young drivers are often anxious to help prevent their teen from texting behind the wheel. Although parents cannot always directly control their child's driving behaviors, there are steps they can take to inspire their teen to avoid using their cellphone as they drive.

Set clear guidelines

When their teenager begins driving, parents should set clear rules for cellphone use behind the wheel, and make sure that their child is aware of these guidelines. Parents should emphasize to their child that even just taking their eyes off of the road for a few seconds could cause an accident that results in catastrophic injuries for those involved.

Be a good example

Often, children replicate the behaviors their parents exhibit as they drive a vehicle. For this reason, parents should remember that their teenager may be watching them when they are in the car together, and refrain from using their cellphone to text while their vehicle is in motion. Parents who do need to text or talk on the phone should pull over to a safe place and conduct the conversation instead of remaining on the road.

Remain aware of driving activities

Once certain rules for cellphone use and driving have been set, parents should actively enforce them by reminding their teen about them. Additionally, parents should refrain from trying to text their teen when they know that their child is driving from one place to another.

Even though parents may be able to keep their teen from texting behind the wheel, they cannot keep other drivers on the road from engaging in this dangerous activity. Those who were injured in an accident caused by a driver who chose to text behind the wheel may benefit from speaking from an attorney to find out what their legal rights are.