Just last week I wrote an article for the Examiner about Teen drivers with some valuable resources, including a teen driving contract. This week Connect with Kids offers some parent tips you need to take the time to read. An educated parent is a prepared parent that equals a safer teen!
Source: Connect with Kids
Driving and Talking is Dangerous
“The task of driving and the task of communicating on the cell phone kind of play off the same area of the brain. So it’s got similar brain function for both tasks. [It is] the worst of multi-tasking. And the brain is just not set up to do that effectively. It’s sort of like giving 50 percent to each. And driving takes a lot more than fifty percent concentration.”
– Dr. Cathy Blusiewicz, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
How well do teens drive while using a cell phone?
“I got into a car accident when I was 16,” answers 18-year-old Katie, “and I made a left turn without a light and I wasn’t paying attention and I was on my cell phone.”
“I usually text message a lot and find myself like swerving off the road,” admits 16-year-old Andrew.
“Mostly when cars stop in front of me,” says 16-year-old Chris, “a lot of times you are looking down texting or whatever and you look up and they are stopped, and you just barely missed them. Or, sometimes, in my case, I did hit one person.”
According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, talking, texting, dialing or answering a cell phone takes drivers’ eyes off the road long enough to travel the length of a football field.
“You might as well be driving with a bag over your head that you take off occasionally,” says psychologist Dr. Cathy Blusiewicz, “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
She says if you’re talking or texting on the phone, your brain cannot fully pay attention to the road ahead.
“The task of driving, and the task of communicating on the cell phone kind of play off the same area of the brain,” says Dr. Blusiewicz, “so it’s got similar brain function for both tasks. [It is] the worst of multi-tasking. And the brain is just not set up to do that effectively. It’s sort of like giving 50 percent to each. And driving takes a lot more than fifty percent concentration.”
Experts say parents must intervene. “Set down some rules and talk to them about, ‘If you have to make a call, you have to pull over,’” says Blusiewicz. “’You have to find a place where you are not driving.’”
Tips for Parents
The following statistics, therefore, shouldn’t be very surprising:
Sixty-two percent of high school drivers say they talk on a cell phone while driving, and approximately half of high school teens who do not yet drive (52 percent) and middle school students (47 percent) expect they will engage in this behavior when they begin driving.
Sixty-seven percent of high school drivers say they speed.
Thirty-three percent of high school drivers say they do not wear their seatbelt while driving.
Cell phones have been transformed from status symbols into everyday accessories. In fact, cell phones are so prevalent among teenagers that a recent study found that they viewed talking on the phone nearly the same as talking to someone face-to-face.
If you believe your teen should have a cell phone, it is important to lay down a few ground rules. The National Institute on Media and the Family suggests the following guidelines for setting limits on your teen’s cell phone use:
Choose a plan that puts some reasonable limits on your teen’s phone time. Make sure he or she knows what the limits are so he or she can do some budgeting.
Let your teen know that the two of you will be reviewing the bill together so you will have some idea of how the phone is being used.
If use exceeds the plan limits, the charges can mount very quickly. Make sure your teen has some consequences, financial or otherwise, if limits are exceeded.
Teach your child about the dangers of using the cell phone while driving and the distractions it can cause.
Find out what the school’s policies are regarding cell phone use and let your teen know that you will completely support the school’s standards.
Agree on some cell phone etiquette. For example, no phone calling during meals or when it is bothersome or rude to other people.
Conversely, let your teen know that any “phone bullying” or cheating via text messaging will not be tolerated.
Let your teen know that his or her use of the cell phone is contingent on following the ground rules. No compliance, no phone.
Students Against Destructive Decisions
Road and Travel
National Institute on Media and the Family