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Detouring Distracted Driving: Teens and Texting and Driving Behind the Wheel

If you think your teen does not sufficiently understand the dangers of texting and driving, then you need to take steps to stop their heedless behavior before they find themselves in trouble. Cell phone use such as texting causes or contributes to six thousand deaths and half a million injuries every year, according to the U. S. Department of Transportation. If your teen’s texting habits leave you feeling nervous, here are some things that you can do to help:


Distracted Driving Apps

While your teen’s cell phone is a significant source of distraction while driving, it can also be the source of the solution. There are a number of apps that can help. Live2Txt, for example, is something that your teen turns on when he or she gets behind the wheel. It blocks all incoming calls and texts while alerting the senders with a customized message. If you do not feel that your teen can be relied on to use such and app voluntarily, then you can always try something like Drive Safe Mode, which is a similar app that sends you an alert if the app is shut off while the vehicle is in motion. For maximum control, you can also try Cellcontrol, which includes a device that you put under the dashboard. This device stops phones from sending or receiving texts while the car is in motion. You could also try to use positive reinforcement with an app such as SafeDrive, that tracks the number of minutes that your teen’s car is in motion without texting, and rewards them with discounts at participating stores.


The Smart Steering Wheel

There is also a device that comes at the problem from a different direction. The Smart Wheel is a special steering wheel cover that fits over most standard steering wheels. It is able to sense the touch of the driver’s hands through electronic sensors imbedded in the material. If the driver takes one hand off of the wheel, it emits an annoying buzzing sound and turns on a warning light. It even notices if both hands are held close together on the wheel, a position that allows texting with the thumbs. This device is also connected to a cell phone app that keeps track of your teen’s driving habits to prevent texting and driving. It notes the number of times that he or she takes a hand off of the wheel, and how long the hand was removed for. It also makes note of any attempts to remove the Smart Wheel steering wheel cover.


Map Out the Routes in Advance

A lot of times, teens text while driving on a whim. They do not really plan to break the rules. If you sit down with your teen and plan out the different routes that he or she drives, you can minimize this risk by teaching them to think ahead. Figure out all the places your teen regularly goes, such as to school, work, friends’ houses, and so forth. Include pre-planned stops on these routes, so that your teen can text people while parked and safe. Teaching your teen the habit of thinking about these issues in advance will help them develop into mature and responsible drivers.



Of course, whatever approach you try, you are going to need to have a talk. Discuss personal responsibility and the dangers of driving while distracted. This should be something more than just handing out a list of rules. These rules will not do any good unless your teen understands why they are important to follow. If you feel you are having a difficult time getting through to your teen, see if you can enlist the help of some of his or her friends. Teenagers can sometimes be susceptible to peer pressure, and you can use this to your advantage. Make sure that your teen knows not to text and drive. And not to ride with friends who practice texting and driving.

Texting and driving is the number one killer of teens in the United States.