It’s every parents’ worst nightmare, a knock on the door from a Garda or a phone call from the hospital to say your teenage son or daughter has been in a car accident.
Statistics from the Road Safety Authority of Ireland show distracted driving could be responsible for over 1,400 traffic accidents in Ireland, some fatal and many involving teenagers and young adults. Although we don’t know how many were directly caused by mobile phone use we think it’s likely some are. This ad from the Road Safety Authority of Ireland shows just how devastating texting while driving can be:
If you are the parent of a teenager it might seem like their mobile is super glued to their hand. Teens are constantly snapping selfies, chatting to friends and browsing the web. It is a cause of friction in most homes at some point as it impacts on everyday family life. What makes it even more challenging, as a parent, is knowing what they are doing, when.
What happens when your teenager is learning to drive? They are so used to documenting their lives on social media, will their first impulse be to Snapchat their friends or post a photo on Instagram from behind the wheel? What about when they get a message notification? Will habit or fear of missing out mean they grab their phone straight away to read it? Or will they be tempted to text while they are driving?
As parents, how can we stop teenagers taking serious risks by using their mobiles while driving? Here are some of our suggestions:
If you have bad driving habits, such as texting or talking on your phone while driving, your teenager is likely to pick them up. The best solution is to lead by example and promote good driving behaviour.
Instantly responding to a message is tough for teens to overcome, especially in the fast paced, connected world in which they live. The reality is; it is only a message that can wait. Be direct and ask your teenager if texting while driving is worth risking their life for? This sobering thought should help them think twice about texting behind the wheel.
Your teenage driver may be under the mistaken impression that it’s okay to create a quick text or read an incoming message when stopped at traffic lights. Make it very clear to them that this is against the law as well as being extremely dangerous.
One of the best ways to know how your teenager behaves behind the wheel is to be a passenger in the car and watch how he or she handles situations. Spend as much time as possible with them during the time they are learning to drive and gently correct any bad habits.
If phone notifications are likely to prove too distracting, look into apps with them that allow them to lock their phones when driving as well as those that permit you to view their phone while or after they drive.
If you own the car you set down the rules regarding acceptable driving behaviour. Your teenager should know that there are consequences for breaking the rules, especially texting while driving. Think carefully what those consequences will be and be sure to discuss them with your son or daughter.
You can’t expect your teenager to leave the house without their phone, but you can insist that while they are behind the wheel that the phone stays in the boot, glove compartment or on the back seat. If it is unavailable to them, they’re less likely to use it. Of course, if the phone is in the car, it needs to be turned off or muted.
Of course, it's also really important to make sure you have the proper car insurance in place before you let your teen near a car. At AIG you can add drivers to your policy easily using MyAIG Account. And, because teens can be pretty expensive generally, we also offer young driver car insurance with up to 20% off. If you want to get your teen insured contact us today on 1890 27 27 27.