Unfortunately, not only is texting while driving extremely dangerous, but it can also have serious legal consequences. Here are the main things to keep in mind about teenage texting and driving:
Texting and Driving is Undeniably Dangerous
Distracted driving is dangerous driving, point blank. Having talkative passengers in the car, playing loud music, and receiving or making phone calls can all create dangerous distractions that make it hard to focus on safe driving.
Texting is now considered the most dangerous distraction of all, as reading and sending texts requires the use of cognitive, visual, and manual skills all at the same time. If you’re using these skills to read or send a text, you’re not using them to pay attention to where you’re going or to other vehicles, automatically making you a dangerous driver.
In fact, recent statistics show that texting while driving now causes 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents and is six times more dangerous than drinking and driving.
Teens are Especially at Risk
Texting and driving is a growing danger for everyone, but especially teenagers. This is partly because texting is such a big part of teen culture, and partly because teens sometimes have a harder time with impulse control. This is compounded by teens’ lack of driving experience. It’s also important to remember that unlike older adults, many teenagers have been texting for basically their entire lives, making it harder for them to shut off the habit while driving.
Parents and Teens Can Take Safety Precautions
While this may all sound a little depressing, the good news is that there are specific things teens and parents can do to prevent texting and driving. Here are a few ideas:
- Use technology in your favor: While technology may be part of the problem when it comes to texting and driving, it can also help make your teenager safer. Have your teen download a driving safety app on their smartphone. These apps range from those that allow hands-free phone use to those that allow parents to completely monitor their teen’s driving habits. You and your teenager will know which level of app is necessary, based on how well you already trust them to drive safely and on their previous driving behavior. One especially helpful type of app allows cell phones to be set to a distraction-free “driving mode” that forwards calls to voicemail and mutes texts. Once your teen is safely parked, they can disable the app and receive and respond to their messages.
- Foster open communication. If your teen feels like they’re going to be in trouble every time they’re honest with you, they may hide their true feelings about texting and driving. Working to form a relationship where your teen can tell you if they’ve made a mistake, or are feeling peer-pressured to text and drive, can go a long way toward helping to keep them safe.
- Show them the reality of texting and driving: Sometimes seeing names and faces of those who’ve been affected by texting and driving can really drive home just how dangerous it is. The Faces of Distracted Driving is a powerful site dedicated to just that.
In Georgia, if you are under 18, you are not permitted to use a cell phone at all while operating a motor vehicle. For adults, you can use your phone while driving, however you cannot write, send or read text data. Either violation results in a hefty fine and one negative point on your driving record (plus whatever insurance consequences).
Ideally a serious conversation with your newly-driving teen about the potential serious consequences, both in terms of legal problems and potential life or death results, will assure text free driving by your son or daughter.
Should your teen have a texting while driving mishap that leads to an accident and/or injury, it’s best to contact an experienced Atlanta juvenile lawyer immediately to learn and preserve your child’s (and your own) rights.