How do you talk to your teen about texting and driving?


Texting on cell phones while driving now rivals drunken driving as the number-one cause of car accidents among teenagers. Accidents caused by a distracted driver account for 80 percent of all car accidents and thousands of fatalities annually. In a study by the Pew Research Center, more than a third of teens aged 16 and 17 admitted to texting while driving, and 48 percent of teens said that they've been in a car with a driver who texted while driving. Although some adults are also guilty of texting while driving, the prevalence of teenagers who text points to the fact that teenagers are overrepresented in car accidents caused by texting.

Before you talk to your teenager about the dangers of texting while driving, make sure that you set a good example of the responsible way to drive. Pick a relaxed time to talk, and share your concerns regarding the high numbers of teenagers who text while driving and the dangers they can and do cause to themselves, their passengers, and other people. Let your teen see the http://txtresponsibly.org/ site, and share your expectation that you don't want him or her to be texting while driving, and no, it's not because you're mean, it's because you love your teens.

Ask your teen for ideas to eliminate texting while driving, such as to turn off the cell phone when entering the car, to put the phone in the glove compartment or on the back seat, or to hand the phone to a passenger to answer if anyone calls or sends a text message. You hope that you won't have to take away your teenager's cell phone for a week or put the car off-limits until your teen learns some sense, but texting while driving is not an option and your teen's life is at stake.