Teaching Teens About Distracted Driving

Teaching Teens about Disctracted Driving image

Katie BassettKatie Bassett


Let’s face it, teenagers aren’t always the most receptive with their parents. While I was in that phase over ten years ago, I can still vividly remember my rebellious period. There I was, standing at the DMV on my sixteenth birthday, giddy about my license. All of the prior lecturing I received about driving safety and distracted driving went right out the window as I jumped into the driving seat of my new Jeep Liberty, without my parents. Not to say I was this aggressive driver, who knew no limits, but I definitely exhibited reckless behaviors as a teen driver.

A car accident due to reckless driving—this is a fear all parents have regarding their teenager. We want to educate our teenager on the importance of not using your phone on the road and overall driver safety. However, a lot teens disregard their parents’ warnings, thinking they are invincible. How can you break through to your child and instill the grave dangers of distracted driving as well as promote road safety?

Educating Teens About Distracted Driving & Road Safety—What Worked for Me

You can preach to your soon-to-be 16-year-old about distracted driving and set rules for the road, but we all know how teenagers respond to restrictions. So what made me realize how dangerous distracted driving was? Most of us learn through experience, which isn’t the most sought out answer you’re probably looking for, but there are ways to execute this.

I was lucky enough not to fall victim of a car accident, however my parents did expose me to the realities of accidents. Anytime the local news covered a major car accident, my parents made sure I was paying attention. They made sure I saw accidents from a distance as we drove by as well as take note of the amount of police officers on the road. When they would become critical about my driving, my parents wouldn’t respond in an attacking manner but rather explain what could happen if I continued my poor habits. All of the potential life changing injuries, like traumatic brain injuries & spinal cord injuries, that could result from reckless driving were drilled in my mind. Now any time I even think about reaching for my phone while driving, my mind veers to the life altering consequences that could occur from viewing that one Snapchat.

While this learning style sounds morbid, it was a great way for me to learn about the potential dangers of reckless driving, without being in an accident. Exposure is a great way for teens to realize they are not invincible on the road. Combining these tactics with essential driving instruction can help you rest a little easier when your child receives their license.

Additional Teaching Tips Before Teens Get their License
  • Staying calm is crucial when you are in the passenger seat.
  • Have teens practice on progressively harder roads, starting on local streets and advancing to major highways. It is vital to get your kids on major highways to teach them the responsibilities they are bound to while driving.
  • Practice constructive criticism, so your teen will actually listen to you. Teens often become defensive when parents’ driving feedback is critical and negative.
  • Practice what you preach. Leave your phone in your purse or glove compartment at all times while you’re on the road. Moreover, avoid texting and calling your kid while in the car. Set the standards high and abide by them!

Katie BassettAbout Katie Bassett

Katie primarily focuses her research and writing efforts on youth safety and development. Right now, she is concentrating on advocacy projects for Mayor Law.

View all posts by Katie Bassett here.

7 Comments on “Teaching Teens About Distracted Driving”

  1. This is great info,both my kids went to driving School i did not want to teach them any of my bad driving skills which i am sure i have.Kids being kids never think anything will happen to them .

  2. Great info. I’m heading into this in the next couple of years and I really want to ensure my son is as prepared and as safe as possible.

    1. Glad to hear that you’re already thinking about it, Julie. We’ve got to do everything we can to protect our little babies! :)

  3. Great article, such an important story. Thank you for sharing, the sad thing is I also see a lot of adults doing this .

    1. Gosh yes. Distracted driving is a huge problem for adults. We see way to many phones out on the road especially. The first thing you can do is set a good example for your child by not texting and driving. Thanks for the comment, Sherry.

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