Most adults recognize the dangers associated with texting while driving, but many teens do not appear to appreciate how serious a danger it can be. The facts about distracted driving are startling:
1. Using a cell phone while driving decreases the amount of brain activity connected with driving by 37% (source: Carnegie Mellon);
2. More than 6,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in car accidents in 2008, and more than 500,000 people were seriously injured (source: NHTSA);
4. Texting drivers are five times more likely to cause a car accident serious enough to put themselves in the emergency room (source: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety); and
5. Using a cell phone while driving decreases a driver's reaction time to the same degree as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% - the legal limit in North Carolina (source: University of Utah).
So how can parents stop their teenage drivers from engaging in this potentially deadly activity each time they get behind the wheel? After having done considerable research, here are some of the better answers I have found:
1. Establish a family safety rule that prohibits cell phone use while driving. This means that you, the parent, must stop using your cell phone in the car too! Setting a good example for your teenage drivers can be a powerful prevention tool. Along these lines, start a habit of putting your cell phone in the trunk or back of the car. Require that your teen driver do the same and make sure that they do so each time they get behind the wheel. If that seems like too drastic a measure, if there can be something too drastic to save a life, then at least have a family rule that requires you to either turn off your phone while in the car or safely stop your vehicle on the side of the road before using your cell phone. Since this is a safety rule, there should be serious penalties for a violation - like loosing cell phone privileges for a month.
2. Review your teenager's cell phone bill with them, and analyze it to determine whether they are using their cell phone while driving. This may require some police work on your behalf, such as keeping a log of when you know that your teen is driving (e.g. driving to and from school, going out with friends), but if you have provided the cell phone to your teen, then it is your responsibility, as well as your teenager's, to make sure that they are using it appropriately. Failing to properly supervise your teenager's cell phone use can expose you to civil liability if your teen causes a car accident while texting.
3. Talk to your teen driver about these dangers and discuss what the hard evidence shows. Experts believe that education is the best way to get the message to stick.
4. Recognize that text messaging can be a tough habit to break, just like smoking, and that your teen will need to enlist their friends' help to stop using their cell phone while driving.
5. Then there are the host of cell phone applications that prevent or deter distracted driving:
TXTBLOCKER -- This application prevents texting, calling, e-mailing or surfing the web if the phone is moving more than 10 mph. If your teen is a passenger, then he or she can temporarily unblock the phone by answering a puzzle. This app is not cheap and costs $25, plus $10 a month or $100 a year.
CELLSAFETY -- This one blocks everything BUT telephone calls. It has the ability to locate-track and speed-monitor your teen. Your teen can request permission to override the block by sending you a special text that says "OK", but it's up to you as the parent to authorize the "unblock" by replying with "unblock." This app costs $10 a month.
IZUP -- This app uses the GPS chip in your teen's phone to detect movement greater than 10 mph, and when it does, it locks the phone functions you want locked -- hard. The program unlocks the phone several minutes after the movement stops. Passengers can bypass the block if they have a password and then go to iZup's homepage and temporarily disable the service. This one is pretty inexpensive and only costs $4.95 per month or $49.95 per year.
DRIVESAFE.LY -- This application does not detect whether your teen is moving. Rather, your teen must turn it on each time they get in the car to drive. When a text is received, it will read the incoming messages aloud. Your teen can respond by voice. Probably the best feature of this app is that it will send texts with predetermined messages (such as "I'm driving right now, I'll reply when I stop driving"). There is a free version that reads out only the first 25 words of each message. There is also a "pro" version that has even more features and costs $13.95, with no service fees.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this serious problem, but each of us has a responsibility to our teen and to everyone else on the road to make sure that our teen driver is obeying the rules of the road and the laws of our state. Do not delay in putting one or more of these tips to use. The life you save may be your child's.
At Davis Law Group, we help those who innocently end up on the wrong end of a texter's distracted driving. Catastrophic injuries are often the result of such crashes. If you would like to speak to an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate the often confusing waters of insurance injury claims, then contact Asheville Accident Attorney Brian Davis. Consultations are free and there is no obligation to hire Mr. Davis after you meet. Get the answers you need today. Contact Mr. Davis right now.