How to Handle Distracted Driving With Teens

MJ Esther
May 10, 2016

A few weeks ago, a news story about a teen girl that was in a car accident due to using Snapchat while driving made headlines. She was snapping her drive and using the apps miles per hour filter to show her followers how fast she was driving. Personally, I have viewed multiple stories and have received snaps from people I know that they took and sent while they were driving.

As I read the article, I wondered why so many people like the young teenaged girl involved in the accident, would risk their lives all for a Snapchat filter and for her followers entertainment. No Snapchat, text, call, alert, video or post is worth risking your or anyone else’s life.

It is extremely important for parents to have the discussion with their teens about safe driving, especially with all the distractions that are made readily available via their smartphone. While explaining the dangers of using cell phones while driving is a necessary conversation between parents and teens, it's also important for parents not to panic and jump to the conclusion that their teen is distracted while driving and take their phones away. Instead, they need to focus on having ongoing conversations with their teens about this temptation while driving. Apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Periscope are great apps that are fun, entertaining, a way to connect with people, a news platform and a way for them to express themselves in a positive light. I think the message or goal here is for teens to understand that there is a time and a place for everything and driving is not that time.

What can parents do to avoid distractions while driving

1.Be a Role Model for your Teen- As parents, it's important to set the example of what it means to be a good driver while using your smart phone. Do not tell your teen about the dangers of being on your phone while driving and then turn around and send a text while you are behind the wheel.

2. Talk with your Teens Often- Talk with them about the risk and dangers of using their smartphones or other forms of technology while driving. Also discuss with your teen what to do when distractions are inevitable. FOSI has developed three moments that are essential times to talk to your kids about tech. Use these moments to talk about bad habits such as texting and driving and continue to have regular conversations.

3. And lastly, Try an app that may help you monitor your teen and avoid distractions while driving. Here are some examples of those apps:

In addition AT&T has their "It Can Wait" program. They have a variety of resources and tools for parents to use to help generate discussion about distracted driving.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Written by

MJ Esther

MJ Esther, is from Corona California, and is a fourth year public policy major attending the University of California Riverside. MJ is currently pursuing the health/population policy and social/cultural/family policy tracks of the UCR public policy major. Her policy interests include health policy management, climate, human resources, immigration, community development, and urban development. She is a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity at UCR. She also served as director of house management for her fraternity chapter. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Riverside Blindness Support Center, assisting the blind and the visually impaired. She also volunteers at the Sunrise Senior living complex in Riverside. She is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success at UCR. MJ also spends her time volunteering at local hospitals, where she hopes to broaden her understanding of health care policies and reform, health administration and health care for the underprivileged. She plans on continuing her education after graduating with her bachelor's degree in June 2016 by attending a Graduate School of Health Care Administration.