Teaching Teens to Avoid Distracted Driving - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Aug 2, 2023

Teaching Teens to Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving is Dangerous Driving. Use Our Guide And Help Your Teens to Avoid An Accident.


As many parents can attest, teaching teenagers to drive is an important yet nerve-racking experience. Teaching young adults that mistakes made behind the wheel can lead to accidents that can end in severe injuries and even death is a crucial step in the process. It’s important to know that your teen’s level of experience on the road isn’t the only factor to be concerned about. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 people in 2019 alone. The most common distracted driving accidents are caused by operating a cell phone while driving, passenger-related distractions and multitasking. We’ve created a guide to help you teach your teens how to avoid distracted driving overall.


Before Your Teen Starts Driving

The best way to teach teens safe driving habits is to lead by example. Set the bar high and remember that kids tend to pick up on a lot more than we realize. If you happen to make a mistake while driving, be sure to point it out and share out loud what you should have done differently. Things like changing the radio station while you’re driving may be a habit you need to correct yourself. Pointing out your own “little” mistakes as early as possible will help reinforce safe driving practices.


How to Set A Good Example:

   Never Text and Drive   Never operate your phone for any reason once the car is in motion. We know that this is easier said than done, however this should be non-negotiable. These days, most cars come equipped with Bluetooth technology for streaming music, voice activated dialing, and reading text messages for you. If your car does not have these features, it can wait until you reach your destination.

   Don’t Adjust Your In-Car Tech – Distractions come standard in our vehicles. There are buttons that control the music, others that control the temperature and the list goes on and on. Be sure to make any adjustments to your car’s technology settings before getting on the road. Make sure that you ask front seat passengers to control the music or any other tech while you drive.

   Avoid Eating While You Drive – Fast food places are everywhere; drive-thrus make it easy to get what you want and get back on the road when you’re in a hurry. Remember that eating and driving can make it difficult to focus on the road. It’s best to pull over for a few minutes in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant to eat, rather than risking your safety and the safety of others for a quick bite.


Teaching Your Teens to Drive

Just as you did before your teen was officially learning how to drive, you will want to continue practicing safe driving habits and point out mistakes. Be sure to point mistakes out in a way that is informative and empowering to your teen rather than in a way that might be aggressive or embarrassing. These can be highly emotional moments for both you and your teen and trust will be important going forward. Best-case scenario – your teen will be an exemplary driver and will respect the rules of the road. If you feel that your teen is prone to driving distractions and will need more training and instruction, this is common! It’s important to get safe-driving practices in place before ever letting your teen drive on their own. Time, consistency, and structure can help correct any distracted driving habits.


Having your teen complete a driver safety course is also a great way to help them learn the rules and laws of the road. While using a cellphone is dangerous, it’s also against the law in certain states, New York being one of them. Professional driving instructors review every aspect of driving, so this route is a great way to prepare your teen and provide additional tips on how to avoid distracted driving.


It’s important to remember that even if your teen is involved in an accident, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were at fault. Other drivers may not be as aware of the potential dangers of distracted driving or may have a blatant disregard for them. Once you’ve taught your teen basic safety and driving rules, be sure to remind that that they also need to remain cautious of other drivers at all times.


Setting Ground Rules

You’ll want to start by setting realistic expectations for your teen. Being unreasonably strict or cautious can cause teens to rebel or be too afraid to drive! When you discuss driving with your teen, you might consider setting up a reward system for good driving habits. You can create an agreement where your teen is obligated to abide by the safety rules set by you and the state you live in. It’s best to list those rule out to avoid any confusion. You can then set targets for your teen and offer incentives for achieving those goals. For example, if they can go without getting any traffic tickets for an extended period of time and are able to drive safely on a regular basis, you might reward them with a bonus to their allowance, a movie night with friends, or offer to pay for gas.


If Your Teen Breaks A Rule

Traffic violations, fender benders, and close calls can not only shake their confidence, but yours as well. Often, it is instinctual to have an emotional reaction, whether it be fear or anger, to a situation where your child’s safety is at risk. It’s important to keep calm, be patient and then go back to review  safe driving habits with them.


Teaching your teen to take responsibility for his or her driving mistakes will be critical. While some parents may result to extreme punishment, for example revoking driving privileges or long-term groundings, you might consider creative discipline as an encouraging alternative. Consider the following corrective discipline options for your distracted teen driver as they can reinforce real-life consequences:


      Completion of a defensive driving course and/or online safety videos

      Mandatory community service to reinstate driving privileges

      Limit driving to fewer hours with increased stipulations

      Require reimbursement payments for any damages that might have been caused


Being patient with your teen driver is often a lot easier said than done. When it comes to your child’s safety, you want to do everything in your power to protect them. With that being said, you might consider including a safety kit in any vehicles your teen may be driving, including your own. The truth is, there’s no such thing as over-preparing. Check out the link below to learn more about building your very own car safety kit!