Texting while driving (TWD)—are you ready for this statistic?—increases by 23 times the risk of an accident.
Even if you think you or your friends would never text behind the wheel, a new article in Contemporary Pediatrics indicates that nearly half of teens do so. Not only that, people who text behind the wheel are also more likely to drink and drive, ride with someone who’s been drinking, or not use a seat belt.
What to do about it?
- Teens and parents should talk about this together. Starting the conversation before driving age is best, but it’s never too late.
- Make a contract. Parents and teenagers can agree NOT to TWD, drive under the influence, or ride with someone who participates in dangerous behavior. Here is a sample of such a contract.
- Eliminate the temptation. Put the phone in the back seat. If you’re expecting an important text and hear the notification, pull over at a parking lot to retrieve it.
One more issue: what do you say to a driver who’s texting? You can always give the excuse, “My parents will ground me forever if I’m riding with a texting driver. Do you mind waiting?” Or, “Hand me your phone and I’ll send a reply saying you’re driving and will get back to them soon.” If nothing works, don’t ride with that person in the future, or get your parents to come pick you up. They’d much rather be inconvenienced for an hour than leave you in a dangerous situation.
Bottom line: Don’t text and drive. It can wait.
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