The biggest hazard your teenager faces on the road isn't an aggressive driver, a speeder, or a semitruck. It's a distraction. Most likely, it's the distraction coming from your teen's cell phone.
Cell phones are involved in over one million car wrecks each year. Because of that, most states now ban holding phones while driving in an effort to curb texting behind the wheel. Despite that, more than half of all teenagers don't see texting while driving as dangerous.
That's the bad news. The good news is that you, as a parent, can do something about the problem. Prevent your teen from getting hurt by doing the following:
1. Model good behavior.
Parents are the biggest role models that children have. Show your children your commitment to safety by making sure that your phone is turned off and put away while you're behind the wheel. If you've had a bad habit of using your phone while driving in the past, sit your teen down and explain that you won't be making that mistake any longer. Then, commit to it.
2. Ask your teen for a contract.
Teens are more likely to obey a rule if they agree to it. Sit your teen down and talk about the dangers of distracted driving -- including the potential legal consequences if they cause a car accident. Then, ask your teen to commit to a signed contract that bans cell phone use while driving. Agree where cell phones are to be kept while they're behind the wheel and enforce real consequences -- like suspended driving privileges -- if they violate the agreement.
3. Make use of technology.
There are apps for phones available that you can use to shut your teen's phone off when they are in a moving car. You can also find apps that will track cell phone use when they're in the car. This can be a great way to enforce that contract.
Remember -- you have the power to make a difference that can save your teen from a serious car accident. Don't hesitate to use it.