Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player
Because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. A quarter of teens respond to a text message at least once every time they drive. A reported 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
Visit Distraction.gov for more information.
What Parents Can Do
Parents are the number one influence on what kind of driver a teen will become. Help your teen develop a lifetime of good driving habits by following these simple steps:
1. Have the Talk.
Driving is a serious responsibility. Discuss what it means to be a safe driver with your teen and set ground rules for when they're behind the wheel. If your teen is on the road, they should stay off the phone.
2. Make a Family Pledge.
Visit Distraction.gov and have every member of your family sign the pledge and commit to distraction-free driving. Set a positive example for your kids by putting your cell phone in the glove compartment every time you drive.
3. Know the Laws in Your State.
Many states have Graduated Driver Licensing laws that include cell phone and texting bans for young drivers. Remind your teen driver that there could be serious consequences for violating these laws - including a delayed or suspended license.