Your teenager has his or her learner’s permit and/or driver’s license which means your job as a personal chauffeur is over! It can be a very liberating feeling for parents, but it can also be very concerning. Young drivers are some of the most at risk for distracted driving. April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month, state and local law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers who are texting or using their phones behind the wheel.
Distracted driving is deadly. Across the nation 3,450 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2016. During the previous year 391,000 people were injured by distracted drivers. According to the United States Department of Transportation, approximately 481,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving during daylight hours. That creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.
Defining distracted driving
Just one second of your attention is all takes to change a life forever. Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. For example, talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle or fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system.
Don’t text and drive, it’s the law!
Tennessee law prohibits the use of a “mobile telephone or personal digital assistant to transmit or read a written message while driving in Tennessee.” Click here to learn more about Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-199. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. At 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.
Tennesseans can take action to reduce distracted driving by following these helpful tips;
· Parents can lead by example by never driving distracted and by talking with teens about how distractions contribute to crashes.
· Put your phone away. Pull over if you need to make a phone call or send a text. Never use a mobile device while driving. A hands-free device is safer to use, but the driver should still exercise caution and remain focused on the road.
· Set your GPS in advance. Program your GPS before you leave the driveway. If you need to adjust your GPS, then pull over. Never operate GPS while driving.
· Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses a device while driving. Offer to make the call so your driver’s full attention stays on the road.
· Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.
Checkpoint Parent Teen Driving Agreement Program
The Checkpoints program is a school-based program that educates parents and teens together to create an agreement to limit teens’ exposure to risks such as: driving at night, driving with teen passengers, driving in poor weather, driving at high speeds on unfamiliar roads, and distracted driving. For more information about the program click here.
Additional Resources for Teens and Families