Ashley Umscheild, a 19-year-old from Kansas, read that single-word text from her sister just before she was ejected from her vehicle and killed instantly. Ashley was driving when she hit a median and flipped her truck while viewing that simple text.
Patrick Sims, a high school senior from Denver, read the three-letter acronym as his car drifted off the side of the road. Patrick hit a retired geologist and killed him instantly. No one was “laughing out loud.”
“where u at?”
Mariah West, an 18-year-old planning to graduate high school the next day, read the text on a way to a friend’s baseball game. While she was looking at her phone, she drove across a median and struck a concrete barrier. Mariah was killed instantly and did not make it to her high school graduation.
Living in a communication-savvy society, staying connected with others is vitally important. Between work and play, we’re connected to others (usually through cell phones) almost every minute of every day. Unfortunately, this also includes those times when an individual is driving. While people of all ages make it a habit to text and drive, teenage drivers are the most common victims. As new drivers, teenagers should focus on the wheel and not be distracted.
As of April 2012, 37 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. Many states, individuals, and law makers are learning that texting and driving is a serious issue that is taking innocent lives. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an auto crash than driving when intoxicated. Texting and driving affects not only the driver, but also everyone else on the road.
As a parent with a teenager behind the wheel, you want your child’s driving experience to be safe. It is therefore important to monitor their actions behind the wheel and know that they put the cell phone away while driving. Distractions are dangerous, so be sure to inform your teenager of the serious risks of texting while driving. Below are three ways to education yourself and your teenager before they get behind the wheel.
Be an example.
Parents are role models, and many children (yes, even rebellious and defiant teenagers) admire their parents. Children of all ages look to their parents for good examples and behaviors. Therefore, for their own safety and for the sake of setting a good example, parents should not ever text and drive, especially with a teenager in the car. If you need to text or talk on the phone, find a safe place to pull over and answer, or ask another passenger to read the message aloud and type your reply out for you.
Instruct your teenager.
The motto “On the road, off the phone” should be engraved in every teenager’s steering wheel. Although actually engraving the message on the wheel might be taking things a bit far, every parent should instill clear instructions to their teenager not to use cell phones while driving. Tell them to avoid temptation by turning it off, locking it in the glove box, or putting it on vibrate-only mode so they can’t hear when a new message arrives.
Be an active parent.
Every parent should discuss with their teenager the disastrous effects of taking their eyes off the road for even a few seconds. Communicate with your teenager regarding distracted driving, and set rules for your household as well as consequences for breaking those rules. Talk with other parents about how they can prevent their children from texting and driving. Help your teenager become a better driver with both hands on the wheel.
Texting and driving is a growing concern in today’s society, so it’s important to educate your teenager on the dangerous effects of texting and driving. Your teenager may not like your rules, but they will learn to appreciate the safety that your rules provide.