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How parents can help prevent teen distracted driving.

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When researchers analyzed video of nearly 1,700 crashes involving teen drivers, they discovered that 58% of them were caused by some form of teen distracted driving. The top distraction was interaction with other teen passengers in the car; number two was cell phone use. These kinds of behaviors could put your teen at risk. But you can help them drive more safely by offering these tips to avoid the most common forms of teen distracted driving:

  1. Limit the number of teen passengers. The Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs in many states already limit the number of young passengers that may accompany an unsupervised teen driver. But this restriction is dropped at age 17 or 18 (depending on the state). Ask your child before they drive anywhere if they are picking up anyone on the way. Make it clear that no more than one passenger is allowed in the car with them.
  2. Prohibit cell phone use. Teach your teen from day one that their cell phone should be stored in the console or glove compartment while driving. To further reduce temptation, have them put their phone in Do Not Disturb mode while driving. Want to be extra sure your teen is off the phone? A variety of apps are available that can prevent them from using their phone behind the wheel.
  3. Make “just drive” your teen’s new mantra. Tell your teens: When you drive, just drive. Though friends and phones are the two top distractions, plenty of teen distracted driving crashes are caused by other things like trying to eat while driving, getting distracted by the radio controls, or trying to fix hair and makeup at the wheel. Teach your teen to set radio and temperature controls in the driveway before they leave, not on the road. If they must eat in the car, do it in the parking lot. And as for personal grooming, they can do a better job of that once they arrive at their destination.
  4. Set a good example. Don’t fall into the “Do as I say, not as I do” trap. You can’t expect your teen to take your admonitions seriously if you’re using your phone or doing other things while driving.

Do you have a teen ready to get behind the wheel? Giving them clear safety guidelines (and a good auto insurance policy) can give you a little more peace of mind.