For most adults, driving is second nature. Like breathing, we don’t really think about it. But to teens, the whole driving experience is new. And new skills take time and focus to master. Um, yes, focus. Hello?
Why are teens driving while distracted?
In our over-stimulated world, teenagers are prone to distraction. Even more so as they figure out the world behind the wheel. Suddenly re-focused on the road, a new driver might overreact to a given situation – swerving into other lanes or even running off the road.
Based on government research, drivers under age 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. The CDC has more facts and stats about this.
Common teen driving distractions
Teens love to roll with their whole squad. But the numbers show this can be a problem. Adults have fewer accidents with passengers in the vehicle. Teens? It’s the opposite: accidents are more likely when one teen is driving others in the same car.
Solution: Don’t allow your teen to drive other teens until they’ve been on the road for at least a year.
This one is obvious. For many teens, a smartphone is almost constantly absorbing their attention. So of course, nothing good can happen if they’re using it while driving.
Solution: Don’t let your teen use the phone when they drive. If they must, have them park and finish their calls or texts before getting back on the road. In fact, there are several apps for that.
Roads and music just go together. But trying to change songs or channels, or even reaching for a music-playing device can also take your mind off the road.
Solution: If your teen is into car-tunes, have them mix one playlist on their device for the road ahead of time, or choose one radio station and leave it there. Also, lower the volume. It helps to hear car horns and emergency vehicles.
The sensible solution
The factors above are not the only things that can distract young drivers. Anything from spectacular scenery or a curious oddity to an attractive member of the opposite sex can divert their attention from the road. The key thing here—more easily said than done—is focus.
Young drivers need to develop the mindset early on that when they’re behind the wheel, driving is their #1 priority. Anything else can wait. This is how they’ll learn good driving habits. It’s also where you come in as a parent, coach and mentor. Talk to your teens as they first take the keys, and show them by your example.
Want to know more?
Check out our library of Auto Resources to learn more about driving safely and coaching your teens to do the same.