This week, Massachusetts finally enacted a hands-free cellphone law. Financial penalties are very stiff, especially for teen drivers under the age of 18. I know for those of you with driving teens, you have already been promoting this message, but unless you have a camera in your teen's car, you have no idea what they do when they are alone in the car. Teens feel invincible! It is a biological function of the growing teen age brain. In the best of times it helps them to leave the comfort and safety of childhood and take the kinds of risks that teach them how to be independent and successful as they move into adulthood. Being able to stay home alone, develop new passions and interests, do things that are unfamiliar and maybe uncomfortable. These are all good risk taking behavior. Unfortunately there are the bad and scary risk taking behaviors that they believe they can handle: driving and texting, smoking pot and drinking and driving, sexual experimentation and the list goes on.
Whatever state you live in, if you have driving teens you will need to "teach" them how to be phone safe while they are driving. You'll notice I said teach and not tell! Just lecturing about the No No's of driving and texting is ineffective in actually changing behavior.
I wrote this article for The Boston Globe on teaching teens about distracted driving in teens a few years ago, and it certainly stands up to the test of time. In it there are very practical tips on how to help your teens. Enjoy
A few scary statistics to motivate:
More than 3000 teens die every year from texting and driving!
More than 50% of teens admit to texting and driving. Than is 1 our of very 2 teens. That is a lot!!!