Helpful Ways to Talk to Your Teen About Distracted Driving


Distracted driving is a major factor on our roadways, and no one does it more than teen drivers.

A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows nearly two-thirds of all teen crashes involve a distraction behind the wheel.

“This new research shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers,” said Jurek Grabowski, Research Director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Another report from the foundation finds almost 90 percent of young drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past month. These dangerous behaviors included texting while driving, red-light running and speeding. The findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an uptick of more than 7 percent, the largest single-year increase in five decades.

“Alarmingly, some of the drivers believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director. “It’s critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads.”

The CDC breaks distracted driving down into three categories. Visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road, while manual distractions see the driver’s hands leave the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions are when the motorist takes their mind off the task at hand.

“Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction,” said Maria Vegega, ‎division chief at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Connecticut State Police suggest an honest, open discussion and some safety tips with your teen before they hit the road:

  • Before you leave home, have directions to where you are going.
  • Never operate a vehicle while drowsy.
  • Drive defensively and remain vigilant; impaired and distracted drivers are on the road at all hours.
  • Discuss your plans with your friends; remind each other about responsible decision-making and confronting peer pressure.
  • Remember to contact your parents if your plans change.

“Wait a second before pulling into the intersection to ensure that other drivers are not running the light. And always watch for oncoming drivers, as impaired drivers tend to drive toward lights,” said Trooper First Class Kelly Grant of Connecticut State Police.

Below the CDC provides basic facts about distracted driving.

  • Sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph.
  • Drivers younger than 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
  • In 2015, 42 percent of high school students who drove in the past 30 days admitted sending a text or email while driving.
  • In 2015, 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.
  • As of June 2017, texting while driving is banned in 46 states and the District of Columbia.