I can’t tell you how many times I see drivers of all ages typing away on their smartphones while driving on the roads in my town. One time, I actually noticed someone playing Candy Crush while cruising along 195 East. Despite my disbelief, those colorful bubbles on that game are hard to mistake. We have all seen it, and most likely, many of you reading this are probably guilty of it as well.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and there is bad news out there. Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions conducted a recent survey, and what they found should scare every driver on the road.
- 93 % of licensed teenagers admit using their phone while driving is dangerous
- 59% report using their phone to make calls
- 27% report texting while driving
- 69% report using apps while driving
Also, according to the National Safety Council, a nongovernmental public service organization promoting health and safety, 47 percent of people report feeling comfortable texting while driving, either manually or through voice messaging. And, despite the alarming statistics revealed by AAA, kids are not getting the message.
According to their annual poll, they reported that 11 teenagers die every day as a result of texting and driving. While 95% of teens admitted that texting while driving is dangerous, 35% admitted that they do it anyway, citing the pressure to respond immediately to peers via text or on social media as the most common reason.
Although many States in the U.S. have anti-texting and driving laws (http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx) they don’t seem to be doing enough to combat the issue and to prevent teenage fatalities caused by texting and driving.
But it’s not just teens who are texting while driving, their parents are doing it as well.
While almost nine in ten teenagers report that their parents are good role models against texting while driving, they also note that they see the “hypocrisy” in adults between warning against texting while driving and then texting while they’re on the road. These alarming statistics make it clear that we need to do a lot more if we want to create a nation where texting and driving is as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.
We all know how tempting it is to look at our phone after every “ding” or message alert, but for teenagers, who don’t yet have the impulse control that adults do, resisting the “ding” is almost impossible. A lack of impulse control, coupled with the infallible, “it won’t happen to me” attitude that plagues adolescence, creates a recipe for disaster.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has called texting while driving a “national epidemic.” AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign seeks to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving and to encourage Americans to remember that no text is worth a life.
While these types of initiatives, stricter laws, and fines and ticketing for texting and driving are somewhat useful, there is more parents can do to protect their teenagers while behind the wheel.
Social Judo is not only the smartest parenting tool when it comes to your child’s smartphone and online activity, it also offers a feature which prevents your teen from using their smartphone while the car is in motion. This technology is priceless and every single parent of teenage drivers should use it. Teens whose parents do use it often report feeling relieved, that the pressure to respond immediately to texts and on social media is so intense, that having something that actually makes that impossible while behind the wheel, is simply awesome.
11 teenagers die every single day from texting and driving, don’t let yours be one of them.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.