How to Talk to Your Teen about Distracted Driving
Help them to Understand the Severity
Being a parent can be scary. When they’re young, you wonder if you’re doing the right thing and hoping that you raise a productive member of society. As they transition into the teenage years, they’re branching out on their own, feeling a bit invincible, and learning what does (and does not) work. While many lessons can be learned through experience, distracted driving isn’t one of them that you want to go that way.
As we work toward being the best auto body repair shop in Billings, we want to make sure that you, and your kids, are safe on the road. We have put together a few tips on how you can talk to your kids about distracted driving, and the importance of being safe, without coming across as a lecturer where the words are immediately forgotten.
Understand the Perspective
Getting someone to change their behavior is tough. Think about it for a minute: there isn’t a single shred of evidence that shows smoking is good for you. On the contrary, it all shows that it’s bad. But still millions of people smoke. We all know that diet and exercise is important to feel better and live longer, but 160 million Americans are obese or overweight. The point is that information alone won’t encourage behavioral change. What needs to be done, at least with teenagers, is firm boundaries, love, and a do-as-I-do attitude.
Dedicate a Time
To get started talking to your teen about distracted driving, you need to set a designated time. This isn’t something to casually bring up over dinner. It’s not the conversation to have while they are distracted with the TV, video games, or their phone.
It’s as simple as saying, “Hey, now that you’re being more independent, we need to have a 10 minute conversation about driving privileges. Let’s do this in the living room at 7.” Keep it structured, keep it tight, and make sure it’s not done as an accusation.
Create the Rules and Consequences
Some teens will respond well with a little finger wagging and being told not to do something. Most, however, will not. They need a carrot or a stick to encourage them to make the right choices.
Guidelines must be set so that your teen knows the clear expectations set before them. For instance, no cell phone use while driving can have the loophole that when at a stoplight they’re not actually driving. A better rule would be that the cell phone remains in the purse, pocket, or glove box while the ignition is running. Just like the rules need to be in place, consequences for breaking the rules must be set.
Enforce the Consequences
Rules, however, mean nothing if they’re not enforced. Even if it was an honest mistake, the consequences must remain in place so those boundaries can be established. Will they be able to break the rules and get away with it? Probably. But if they know you’re firm on the consequences, then they are less likely to try.
Since the consequences are determined ahead of time, your teen will know exactly what to expect when they break the rules. When a consequence is made up on the spot, it will always be met with, “That’s so unfair!”
Stress the Importance
Almost every teen is going to say, “Yeah, yeah, don’t text and drive, I know!” Knowing and doing, however, are two different things. Make sure that they know the importance of not texting and driving. Ask them if they would get drunk and drive, the answer is no. But statistically, distracted driving is even more dangerous.
Ask them to keep an eye out for a week or two and see how many people are out there driving around looking at their phone. It will open their eyes to how big the issue is, and how much more vigilant they need to be to prevent it.
Talk About it; Demonstrate it
We change our behavior a couple of different ways. First, repetition can lead to behavior modification. When we bring it up regularly (not in an accusatory way, but in casual conversation) our teens will understand that this is important and should be followed.
More importantly, however, is demonstrating distraction-free driving. If you want your teen to put the phone in the glove box while they drive, then you too must do it. If you want them to use a hands free device, then you need to use a hands free device. It must be done every single time.
Keep Calm; Call Big Sky Collision
Accidents happen. When they do, we hope they’re not serious. If your vehicle is dented, dinged, smashed, or crashed (whether it’s due to a distracted driving incident or not), bring it to Big Sky Collision Center. Our collision repair experts in Billings, Montana will help get it restored to full factory safety standards, so that you know everyone is safe when you and your teen take it back out on the road.