Distracted Driving

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Each year over four hundred thousand people are injured in crashes caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving statistics 2012 show that over three thousand individuals lost their lives in crashes in which they were a distracted driver or they were the victim of a distracted driver. Distracted driving statistics 2013 were not much improved. The saddest part about these statistics on distracted driving is that these injuries and deaths could have been prevented. Distracted driving facts prove that distracted drivers are far more dangerous to pedestrians and other drivers than even intoxicated drivers. However, what many people fail to understand is that there are many different types of distracted driving. Although there are some distracted driving laws in place in most states, there are many other forms of distracted driving that do not fall under specific categories.

Parents with teen drivers, are especially concerned over facts about distracted driving, because teenagers are very new to driving, and need to pay very close attention to driving safety while behind the wheel. For parents of new teen drivers, it is a good idea to get conversations started with your teen driver concerning what the definition of a driving distraction is. Many parents would be surprised to find out exactly what their teen defines as driving distractions.

|SEE ALSO: The Dangers of Texting|

What Is Distracted Driving?

If you take some time to study distracted driving articles on the definition of distracted driving, you will find that many people focus on certain types of distracted driving such as texting. Although, texting is definitely a deadly driving distraction, focusing too much on this one type of driving distraction leads some young drivers to believe that that is the only form of distracted driving. This is simply not true.

The truth is the distracted driving definition is attempting to do anything else while also driving that would for any amount of time take your eyes away from the road. This includes reading, looking at a phone for any purpose, turning to look at people in the back seat, eating, looking for things in the car or in a purse, talking on the phone, and any other activity that would take your eyes from the road even for a moment. The reason that many young drivers do not take distracted driving statistics seriously is because they do not understand that in one moment a wreck can happen.

How to Get Through to Teens

Teenagers can sometimes be a tough audience to teach. For this reason many parents are using distracted driving awareness month as an opportunity to really drive home the realities of distracted driving and how distracted driving can negatively impact your life. Many parents are finding that introducing their kids to the faces of distracted driving is a powerful way to bring distracted driving dangers to life. Showing a teen a distracted driving video or images of distracted driving accidents can have a powerful effect on a young person. Although this may seem extreme, parents should consider that losing a child is extreme. Educating your child is your job.

During National Distracted Driving Awareness Month there will be many distracted driving videos being circulated for parents to use to help better educate their kids on the realities and the types of distractions while driving. A distracted driving simulator like those found at dropitandrive.org can help young people to see the consequences of distracted driving. Using this simulator would be a great family activity to participate in during distracted driving month to help your kids understand the importance of avoiding distracted driving practices.

Be a Good Example

One of the most important ways that parents can influence their kids’ driving habits, is always by being a good example yourself. Adults tend to think that because they are older and have been driving longer they can better handle distractions while driving. This is not true. Any one at any age can become a distracted driving statistic if they do not practice safe driving habits. Although young people are newer at driving and therefore more easily distracted, it does not change the fact that distracted driving is dangerous for anyone at any age.

You should always remember that your kids are watching you and learning from you every time they are in the car with you. You should always practice good driving habits first of all to keep yourself and other drivers safe, and second of all you should always practice good driving habits so that you can be a good example to your own children and especially your teens who are just now learning to drive or will soon be learning to drive.

Adults also tend to think that texting is the only form of distracted driving. This belief leads many adults to participate in other forms of distracted driving that can be just as deadly. Checking email on your phone, making phone calls, looking at work related things, even reading. All of these things are forms of distracted driving along with any other activity that would require you to take your eyes off of the road even for a moment. You can not teach your children good driving habits if you do not practice them yourself.

Use Strict Consequences

In order for young people to truly understand the consequences of driving while distracted, the parent must put consequences in place. The ultimate consequence of distracted driving would be an accident or injury, or worse case death. In order to spare your kids from these extreme consequences you must put other consequences in place in the event that you catch them driving while distracted. Consequences must hurt in order to teach a lesson. Having driving privileges removed for a month will hurt most teenagers, however, you can then hope that there will not be a repeat of bad driving habits with more permanent and more painful consequences later on.

Once you have put a consequence in place for distracted driving you must stick to your standards. Teens are very good and begging and pleading to get their way. You must not give in because your child’s life is literally at stake. You want your child to understand that distracted driving will not be tolerated in any form.

Use Examples

When ever you have an opportunity, be it news story or internet video which can help to teach the importance of avoiding distracted driving, you should share these distracted driving stories with your teens. Distracted driving facts become much more real when a teen can relate those facts to real teens their own age who have been negatively affected by distracted driving. Do not be worried that you will scare your child with graphic images or disturbing information. If your teen is old enough and mature enough to drive, then they are old enough and mature enough to deal with the reality of bad driving habits. There should be a certain amount of fear that will help your teen continue good driving habits. Fear can be used in a positive way.

Resources

There are many resources available that can help parents to teach their kids the reality of distracted driving and ways to avoid distracted driving.

www.distraction.gov is the U.S. government site which addresses the dangers of distracted driving and offers parents and teens facts, tools and other important information in the war against distracted driving. A great feature of this website is that there is a multi media tool which allows teens to truly see the faces of distracted driving. The stories of distracted driving victims are told through photos and video interviews with their family and friends. This tool gives young people a chance to really understand that distracted driving is a real danger that really affects people’s lives and can really result in untimely deaths of people all over the country. Taking time to really listen to some of these stories will help you and your teen driver re-evaluate your driving habits.

Your Brain and Distracted Driving is also a very powerful website that tackles the many dangers of distracted driving and helps teens and parents locate tools to help them stay away from distracted driving.

How to Get Involved

Beyond simply making good driving decisions for your own driving, there are other ways that you and your kids can get involved in National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Social media outlets are a powerful tool in the fight against distracted driving. Doing something as simple as changing your profile picture to reflect a distracted driving awareness slogan such as, “One text or call could wreck it all,” can help to raise awareness of those who view your profile that day. The objective of awareness campaigns is to simply get people thinking about their choices and help them to consider better choices.

If you or your child has personally been affected by distracted driving them creating your own, “Faces of Distracted Driving” video to share on YouTube other social media outlets, can also have a powerful effect on other young people who view it.

Other ways to get involved in the fight against distracted driving would be to organize an anti- distracted driving event at school, church or some other social organization. There are many creative ways to raise awareness. Another great way to fight distracted driving and other destructive decisions is to encourage your kids to join SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions.) SADD was originally created to fight the dangers of drinking and driving, however, it has now been expanded to include other forms of destructive decision making including risky and impaired driving. Joining SADD can help your teen not only learn better decision making strategies for themselves, but also provide an outlet for peer education as well. Teens generally listen to other teens better than they listen to adults. Which is why teen led initiatives against distracted driving are very powerful tools.

The most important thing that a parent can do to help their teen practice good driving habits is to start a conversation and keep talking.

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