Being a car accident attorney in Seattle and Bellevue wrongful death attorney I have seen my fair share of fatal teen car crashes and the Texting while Driving epidemic appears to be increasing these numbers. A State Farm texting while driving study released in fall of 2010 shows the lax attitude teens have towards texting and driving. According to the study, which was a poll of teens between 14 and 17 years old, most teens do not feel that texting while driving can prove fatal. 35% of teens believed strongly that texting while driving could be fatal, while 55% believed drunk driving could be fatal. The teens also believed that they are more likely to get into an accident driving drunk vs. texting and driving. In reality, however, texting while driving increasing your stopping distance by about 8 times that of impaired driving.
As a parent, you are probably wondering why teens have such a skewed view of texting and driving- this can be attributed to a few different problems; lack of media coverage, societies view of texting, and example.
- Lack of Media Coverage: After years of drunk driving deaths, groups such as MADD developed to educate society on the fatal dangers of drunk driving. These groups not only went out to speak to schools etc. about drunk driving, but also started anti-drunk driving campaigns on television to spread the word.
- Societies View: While society has a very negative view on drunk driving- using a cell phone while driving is not yet seen as irresponsible in societies eyes. This is in part because drinking has age restrictions and limitations, while texting is considered harmless to the body and mind and young children have taken to text messaging rather than regular interaction.
- Example: Parents are actually more guilty of texting while driving than teens. If parents are not sending a strong “no texting while driving” message and are, in fact, texting while driving themselves teens are more likely to text while drive.
How to keep your teen from texting while driving?
There are a few easy steps you can take to help prevent your child from being involved in a fatal texting while driving accident:
- Set an Example: Don’t text or use your cell phone while driving! If your children see that you text while driving they will be more likely to do it themselves, but if you set a rule that you will not text while drive, you always buckle up and obey common road laws- your children will learn from example.
- Talk: Talk openly with your children about the dangers of texting and driving. Studies show that parents that openly discuss their beliefs and values with their children have less chances of teenage drug and alcohol abuse etc.
- Set Rules: Have a rule against texting while driving and be sure to enforce it. If your teen knows they will lose their license if they text while drive they will be far less likely to do it.
- Let them know what happens: the horrible fatal texting while driving accidents that have been flooding the media serve as real examples of how dangerous texting behind the wheel is. The links below will provide some useful resources in starting the conversation with your teen.
- Take the Pledge: Visit Teens Against Distracted Driving and take the pledge with your teen to not text behind the wheel.