Yesterday my daughter and her friends took a road trip to a state park for a day of hiking. And although I had a conversation with both the teen driver and her mother about not using her cell phone while driving, I knew that was not the biggest risk to the girls’ safety.
Car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers. Distraction is a factor in 60% of those crashes. And you probably think that cell phone use is the number one distraction. But it’s not. The number one distractor for teen drivers? Talking to another person in the car. And with each additional passenger in a car driven by a teen, the likelihood of an accident increases.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your kids about texting and driving. In fact, cell phone use is the number two cause of teen car crashes. But you should also talk to your teens about being a good passenger. What does a good passenger do?
1. Insists that the driver does not text and drive. If the driver receives a text and reaches for her phone, a good passenger will suggest that the driver wait to deal with the text. And if the driver refuses, a good passenger will offer to read and respond for her instead of allowing her to do it.
2. Avoids being a backseat driver. No one likes to be criticized about his driving. Unless you’re helping the driver avoid a hazard, you should keep quiet about his driving skills.
3. Does not talk on her own cell phone. Listening to a passenger’s cell phone conversation can also be distracting for a driver.
4. Helps the driver navigate directions. The person driving should never be in charge of directions. Assign that task to another person in the car who will point out where to exit, where to turn, etc.
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