Because teens aren’t as experienced as their parents, they are more susceptible to distracted driving. This includes texting, loud music, and chatting with friends. Teens and adults with multiple infractions may require SR-22 insurance. Talk to your kids early on about what distracted and reckless driving means before they get behind the wheel.
Being distracted not only has the potential to cause a crash but also creates a higher response time, making it difficult for new drivers, especially, to react appropriately. In addition to having regular conversations with your teen driver about what constitutes distracted driving, it’s also important to model safe driving behavior.
Newly licensed teens should have a strict limitation on how many other passengers they may have in the car while driving. More than two additional passengers triple the risk of a fatal crash when a teen is behind the wheel.
Why Teens are Especially at Risk
Why are teens at such a special risk of getting into a crash? There’s a lack of driving experience, as well as having more of a mindset to engage in risky behavior. Teenagers have different brains than adults and have a tendency to feel invincible. They process information and take action more from the emotional part of the brain called the amygdala, whereas adults act on information from the prefrontal cortex or rational part of the brain.
The amygdala is responsible for actions that are associated with aggression and impulses and coupled with their inexperience and likelihood to engage in risky behaviors, teen drivers are more at risk for fatal crashes and higher insurance premiums.
Distractions for Teen Drivers
Many of the same distractions exist for both adult and established drivers as for teens. However, given their age, teen drivers are more prone to distraction and may also believe that they aren’t engaging in risky behavior when distracted.
- Social Media. Teenagers are more connected to social media than their older counterparts, putting them at higher risk of succumbing to the temptation to check their phones when they hear notifications sounding. This includes checking texts, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
- Friends. For teens, their friend group is the most important thing in the world. Their newfound independence is exciting, and their friends want to experience that with them. High-spirited, teens may cause a significant distraction to a teen driver as they engage in conversation, laughter, yelling, etc.
- Ruled by Emotions. Since teens make most of their decisions based on what their amygdala dictates, they are also more prone to being upset and crying while driving a car.
- Grooming. Looking good is important for everyone, especially teenagers. They may be trying to impress their friends, boyfriend or girlfriend, or their boss. Maintaining schedules and being on time is difficult for teens, so grooming themselves in the car may be more likely to happen, which is a huge distraction.
- Streaming Media. Twitch, TikTok, Reels, you name it, teens will find it. Today’s Generation Z is masterful at streaming content. Teens are more likely than adults to stream and watch clips on their phones while driving.
- Navigation Systems. While kids are still gaining driving experience, they’re also still figuring out how to get places: the grocery store, the mall, work, Grandma’s house, etc. This may involve using navigation systems by pressing buttons, making visual choices, etc. If possible, configure navigation systems for voice activation and to sound out of the vehicle’s speakers.
Teenagers more easily develop dangerous habits, and the more they engage in them the more likely they are to be involved in a crash and then subsequent fines or even jail time. Nearly half of all teens reported sending a text while driving in 2017. Almost 10% of all fatal crashes involving teens involved driving distracted during that year.
What You Can Do
Most of the time it might seem as though your teen doesn’t listen to you, but the fact of the matter is, they do. Even if they don’t show it, the things you say and do to them and around them have a huge impact. By saying nothing at all you may be inadvertently supporting or encouraging bad habits to form.
- Lead by Example. When you drive, always wear your seatbelt, drive within safe speed limits, never use your phone or text, and point out the careless and reckless driving mistakes you see other drivers engaging in so your child becomes more aware of right and wrong on the road.
- Create an Agreement. You have always had rules and standards for your child growing up, why stop now? Write down on paper what it is you expect of them as a driver and put the correct limits on your teen’s driving (such as no more than 1 friend in the car at a time). Agree on consequences for breaking these rules.
- Install one of the many apps designed to stop incoming notifications and texts to your child’s phone when they get behind the wheel. Or, encourage them to put their phone on silent until they reach their destination.