Talk to your Teen About Driving Distraction-free

Talk to your Teen About Driving Distraction-free


All that stands between your teenager and a catastrophic car crash is 3 seconds. 

One second to scan for and detect threats.

One second to recognize what the threat demands.

One second to decide how to respond in order to avoid or lessen the severity of the impact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2016, an estimated 292,742 teens (16 to 19 years old) were injured in crashes that resulted in 2,433 teen deaths.

The best thing you can do to protect your kids is to talk to them about safe practices and the risks of distracted driving. Only you can model how to be safe and confident. Learn the facts (and a few helpful tips) about how to help keep your teen safe after they pull out of the driveway. 

While there are many ill-advised behaviors that contribute to car accidents, texting is especially dangerous because it combines a trifecta of distractions:

Visual: Taking your eyes off of the road

Manual: Taking your hands off the steering wheel

Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving

Texting often gets the brunt of the blame for car accidents involving teens — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 21 percent of distracted driving crashes involve cell phones. But there’s a long list of other distractions that can turn a trip to the mall into a nightmare for a group of teens – a loud stereo, a bunch of friends having a rowdy conversation, even eating while driving can lead to accidents.

Here are some shoulds and shouldn’ts to review and model for your young drivers. 


  • Lead by example. Recent studies found that more than two-thirds of parents have read a text while behind the wheel. When you’re driving and your teen is a passenger, put your phone away and out of reach and request that your child do the same. No matter what they say, kids model their behavior after their parents.
  • Wait to get home to eat. Sifting through a fast-food bag in search of that last French fry while sailing through traffic is an obvious distraction. Encourage teens to wait to get home or to eat while parked. 
  • Eyes up front. It’s natural to want to know what’s going on when passing a pulled-over car or accident, but rubbernecking is a good way to end up rear-ending someone or driving off the road altogether.


  • Booze? You lose. This is one rule no one should bend on. Be kind but firm when discussing alcohol and drug use with your teen, especially when it comes to operating a vehicle. Make sure they know they can call you — without judgment or punishment — if they’re faced with a situation that could result in a DUI or deadly crash. 
  • Follies aren’t funny. Showing off while driving (drag racing, blowing through stoplights and signs) can come at a much higher price than just a speeding ticket. Don’t hesitate to revoke driving privileges if your teen is in an at-fault accident or is caught behaving badly at the wheel.
  • Lower the volume – noise and people. SADD says that a teen driver interacting with other passengers is the leading cause of distracted driving crashes. Teens love to travel in packs and are known to overcrowd vehicles, often leaving passengers without seatbelts. Put a passenger limit on your teen’s vehicle and remind them to keep the volume to a reasonable level, if only to hear police and ambulance sirens.
  • Tired? Don’t drive.  The limited visibility of nighttime driving and possible drowsiness — driving teammates home from a late night practice, for example, can be lethal. Make sure your teen knows he or she needs to have the car back in the garage no later than 9 p.m. and offer the group a ride if you know they’ll be out later. Many states have curfews for teen drivers set by law, which means you can make the state the bad guy in that conversation.
  • Don’t rely on hands-free technology. Think using a hands-free device while driving makes you safer? Not necessarily. Research from the National Safety Council shows that drivers using handheld or hands-free cellphones are four times more likely to crash. And just dialing a phone number increases a teen’s risk of crashing by six times, according to the NHTSA.

Read the original post from our provider, Grinnell Mutual, here.