Help discourage your teen from distracted driving

You watch your child hit milestone after milestone. You remember when your baby first sat up. You and your extended family laughed at the way your child never crawled in a straight line. You even made countless attempts to catch your baby's first steps on camera. You watched as they would reach a foot out to take a step, wobble and then fall.

Now your baby is a teenager and is ready to be behind the wheel. You practiced safety tips and basic driving skills. You went over the rules. Your teen passed the driving test and now has their license in hand. You will always be concerned about their safety--especially behind the wheel.

You may want to continue to talk to them about distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 4,000 people died in 2015 from distracted driving. With countless messaging applications on smart phones, endless fast food options and increased daily commitments, it is easy to see how your teen could get distracted.

As a parent, you should set the best possible example for your child. Talk to your teen about paying attention to the road, and then do the same. Avoid using your phone while driving. If you must use the phone, pull over and park. Don't let your teen and family steal your focus while you drive. Ask your passenger to manage the radio and dash controls. Do not eat while you drive, no matter how hungry and convenient it may be.

You should encourage your teen to be a leader. Encourage your teen to help their friends drive safe. Ask your teen to set rules for their own car. Have them find a safe place for their phone, and persuade them to place it in that safe spot before they drive. They can get in the habit of delegating control of their stereo to their passengers in the event that volume etc. needs changed. If they set the precedent from the beginning, their peers are likely to understand and abide by these practices. Their friends might even set similar rules for their own cars.

In May of this year, a bill was passed unanimously that allows distracted drivers to receive an extra penalty when pulled over for driving infractions. This would count as a secondary offense. The Ohio State Highway Patrol will watch for distracted drivers in hopes of reducing the number of accidents these drivers cause. You can help your teen avoid these bad habits. Start the conversation with your teen and keep it going.

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