I had the pleasure of attending an in person press release at McLean High School in Northern Virginia’s FairFax County last week. Transurban, operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes, has launched another segment of their youth safety campaign targeting youth drivers and their parents before millions of people his the highways this summer.
Ryan Zimmerman, of the famous Washington Nationals Baseball team has partnered with the Express Lanes to assist in promoting this life saving campaign intended to reach young youth drivers as well as their parents. After all, we the parents are the role models and the people that have the greatest influence on the daily activities of youth in our society. Our behaviors today, whether or not we drive distracted with our smart phones, is the next generations of drivers tomorrow. As a mom of 4 kids, 2 of which are currently youth drivers in the Mid-Atlantic region today, I realize the importance of my behavior as a mom. You may be able to read a text or use a phone while driving after 15, 20 or 30 years of being on the road but youth drivers are taking your lead. They are watching you and your habits and picking up their phones while driving. In just under 5 seconds you could travel over 400 feet on the highway while being completely distracted. It’s just not worth it! The statistics we learned at the press release are astounding;
· Nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel
· 6 teens DIE and 650 are injured each day in America because of accidents
· 70% of teens say they use mobile apps while driving
Talk to your kids about safe driving. Just sending them off to drivers education isn’t enough. This conversation isn’t a 1 time chat either. Try giving them some safe driving strategies and scenarios that will help with potential problems that may arise. Below are some suggestions, from one mom to another!
· Using a GPS: Discuss the addresses for all the trips taken in one day. Pre-program them into your car or phone (Google Map App) BEFORE hitting the road (plan in advance). That will reduce the temptation to program a smart phone while on the road
· Explain and show them the laws for driving and texting and if you can find some articles on punishments issued in courts for accidents while texting this will provide real life examples. Some teens make careless decisions not because they want to hurt themselves or anyone else but because they failed to consider the possible outcomes/consequences. Discuss outcomes in advance.
· Before allowing your teen to be picked up for a date or a fun trip to the mall for the latest movie this summer, talk to the teen driving about safe driving. Your kids may feel somewhat embarrassed about it but the alternative for you could be a call from the emergency room or worse, a visit from the State Police to identify a body. This is serious.
· Explain to your kid(s) that although they may be good drivers and trustworthy, that there are others on the road texting and driving and being distracted. Expect the unexpected whenever you’re on the road.
· Help teens to understand that speeding may cause you to have less reaction time to avoid an accident. Two seconds can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and being involved in an accident.
· Make a household rule of leaving 10 minutes extra for safe driving when heading out for an event or appointment. When you’ve left an extra 10 minutes early you’ll assist in avoiding that temptation to speed.
A great way to get this discussion moving along with your teen is by taking the pledge here where you will commit to keeping your phone down while behind the wheel.