Giving the car keys to your teen for the first time is stressful for any parent. It can feel like their safety is out of your control. It’s no wonder – teen driver fatalities have increased every year since 2015. Teens are more distracted drivers than their parents. And, they’re less experienced drivers.
So what can you do to keep your teen safe? How can you stop them from texting and driving? Many parents ask these questions — you’re not alone!
To help, we created the Parent’s Guide to Reducing Distracted Driving. It has the talking points, technology, insurance programs, and more designed to help you protect your teen driver and give you peace of mind.
1. It starts with you
Before you talk to your teen about distracted driving, take some time to understand your own distracted driving behaviors. Teens say they want their parents to be role models for distracted driving. So, you need to be the first one to put down your phone. You’ll gain credibility with your teen if you do. And, you’ll have a better appreciation for what it takes to stop distraction.
2. Have “the talk” with your teen
Whether your teen is just starting to drive or has been driving for years, it’s never too late to talk to them about distracted driving. Let them know that you’re on their side and want to protect them. If you’ve stopped driving distracted, tell them your personal story about how and why you stopped. 50% of teens know someone affected by a distracted driving crash. If they’re comfortable with it, ask them to talk about what happened. Don’t try and scare them with statistics – they don’t work. Over 75% of teens say so.
3. Empower them
As you talk to your teen about distraction, one of the biggest psychological factors is making sure they feel like they’re in control. They need to feel like they can defeat distracted driving. You can do this by making the steps they need to take seem easy to complete. If you’ve stopped driving distracted yourself, you can show them it’s possible. “If I can do it, you can do it.” For solutions like downloading apps and enabling technology, sit down and do it together.
4. Make it about their friends
85% of teens would put down their phone while driving if their friends ask. See if you can involve their friends in the conversation. “Would you want your friends to drive distracted?” “Would your friends want you to drive distracted?”
5. Use videos for support
Teens say videos are a powerful way to communicate the danger of distracted driving. If you’re up for it during “the talk,” show them a few videos. (Watch the most viral distracted driving videos ever here.) You can choose your style: serious, sad, shocking, and even funny. These are the most compelling distracted driving videos we’ve found:
6. Turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving
Teens think Do Not Disturb While Driving is a great way to reduce distracted driving. The problem is that less than 35% of parents and teens activate it. It’s a shame because it’s a great feature. Both iPhone and Android offer variations of it. When you drive, DNDWD turns off notifications automatically. Don’t worry! You get your messages when you arrive. Take time to activate this feature together with your teen.
On iPhone > Settings > Do Not Disturb > Scroll down… Activate Do Not Disturb While Driving
On Android > Download the Android Auto app
7. Download a safe driving app
“Trust but verify” is a common approach parents take with their teen drivers. There are a number of apps available to help parents with this strategy. Of course, we’re partial to our own safe driving apps. TrueMotion Family is a free app that helps parents monitor their teen’s driving behaviors and location. Mojo gives you and your teen gift cards for distraction-free driving. Check them out and see what’s best for your family.
How to get your kid to download a safe driving app
We get it. Your teen probably doesn’t listen to your app suggestions. So how do you get them to download a safe driving app? Here are some ideas from parents:
“I said as long as I pay for the phones and cars, the app needs to run.” — TrueMotion Family parent
“I told her it was a contest to see who could get the better score. She likes the concept and also the proof that she’s a good driver.” — TrueMotion Family parent
“We discussed how easy it is to text “just once,” which leads to a habit. We started using the app to get an accurate picture of our habits.” — TrueMotion Family parent
Going beyond the app
Monitoring your teen’s behavior gives you more opportunities to discuss distracted driving and ways to reduce it. Here are a few ideas to use with driver monitoring:
- Sign a safe driving contract
- Hold friendly safe driving competitions
- Establish consequences for distracted driving
A safe driving app like TrueMotion Family will help you understand if your teen is distracted behind the wheel. But you need to decide what happens if they continue to drive distracted. Here are some ideas from TrueMotion Family parents and teens:
- Take away their phone
- Take away their car
- Replace their smartphone with a prepaid flip phone
- Have them write a research paper on the consequences of distracted driving
- Make them pay for their own car insurance
- Have them take Lyft on their own dime
- Make them watch videos of distracted driving crashes
- Have them pay for their own gas
9. Get auto insurance that protects your teen
You can also enlist auto insurance to help promote safe driving for your teen. Many of the biggest carriers offer auto insurance programs designed to protect teen drivers. They come in different varieties and approaches. Some focus on education and training while others focus on monitoring. Here the programs where you can save the most. See the full list here.
|Insurance Company||Program||Program Type||Discount|
|American Family||Teen Safe Driver||Distraction monitoring||10%|
|GEICO||Defensive Driving Discount||Safety training||10%|
|State Farm||Steer Clear||Safety training||15%|
10. Share your experiences
People view distracted driving as something everyone does. Talk to other parents about your concerns around distracted driving and the measures you’re taking to reduce it in your family. Help people understand it’s not normal. It’s not a little thing that’s OK once in a while. Distracted driving has real-life consequences. And for too many people, they don’t get a second chance.
We’d love to hear your stories and how you’re attacking distraction. Tell us about it on chat.