Texting is responsible for more teen deaths behind the wheel than alcohol, making it a serious concern for parents everywhere. Stopping the problem requires a multi-faceted approach, along with clear expectations and firm consequences. These tips can help keep your teen safe when they are on the road.
#1: Take Advantage of the Technology
Teenagers don't always tell the whole truth, which means you may have to use their own technology to keep them safe. A text monitoring app can log all their texts, including the time they were sent, for you to view on your phone or computer.
#2: Talk About the Facts
An honest heart-to-heart with your child is another tactic that works better than many parents would expect. Our teens may not always seem to be listening to us, but they are. Share the real-life accident stats with your teen. In the words of NY traffic attorney Zev Goldstein:
“Texting and driving is now the number one cause of accidental death amongst teens, killing more than 3,000 teens in the US each year. Show your teens these stats, and also show them some real life stories of both accident survivors and from the families of those that didn't survive.”
#3: Put It In Writing
Ask your teen to make a pledge to not text and drive. Signing an actual contract shows your child that you are serious in your concern and expect a full commitment from them for safety. A texting and driving safety contract should be a normal condition for earning the privilege to drive in every family.
#4: Block the Temptation
Most teens have good intentions, but then the phone beeps and they give in to the temptation to read that text. Blocking texting capabilities when behind the wheel gets rid of the temptation. Your teen activates the app before they start the car. It automatically blocks both incoming and outgoing texts until your teen stops the car and turns the app off.
#5: Be a Good Role Model
Teens model the behavior of their parents, whether it's good or bad. If you don't want your child to text and drive, then you can't text and drive. Model good driving habits at all times and don't give in to any distracted driving temptations.
#6: Set Firm Consequences...
If you catch your teen texting and driving, the consequences need to be severe and immediate. Take away both the phone and the car keys. It's best if you have the consequences clearly laid out before hand so your teen knows what to expect if they break the rules.
#7: ...But Don't Skip the Rewards
On the other hand, if your teen is showing restraint and responsibility, reward them! Praise your child for their wise choices, take them out to dinner, or allow them to upgrade their phone. These are all small prices to pay for a child that is making such a safe and responsible decision.
-Article Contributed by Fay Wein of Zev Goldstein Law