Safe driving 101: educating teens about avoiding distraction

This fall, parents all across Tennessee may be breathing a little sigh of relief as their kids go back to school considering it can get a little overwhelming when kids are home all day every day. However, it can be crucial that parents take appropriate steps to make sure the return to school is a safe one for kids.

One way to do this is to take some time to talk about safe driving habits with teen drivers. Whether a teen has been driving for three weeks or three years, they can be at an especially high risk of getting in an accident if they, as novice drivers, engage in unsafe behaviors like distracted driving.

One of the most significant distractions that plague all drivers is the use of a cellphone. Texting, talking, browsing the Internet or taking pictures while driving can be enormously dangerous as a driver’s hands, eyes and focus are all directed somewhere other than the road.

In Tennessee, all drivers — including novice drivers — are prohibited from texting and driving in accordance with state laws. However, any driver with just a learner’s permit or an intermediate license is also banned from using a phone altogether while driving. Reminding young drivers of this can help them avoid the temptation to pick up their phone when they are heading to or from school.

Having other people in the car can be another serious distraction. Parents can set strict rules on how many people a teen driver is allowed to have in the car at any time. They can also make sure kids understand that paying more attention to the radio, their friends in another car or a selfie-taking session in their passenger seat can have catastrophic consequences.

Finally, it can be wise to remind young drivers that having a license and operating a motor vehicle are responsibilities that must be taken seriously. While kids often see driving as being free and independent, it comes with an obligation to be safe. Should they fail to do this, they and their parents could find themselves facing serious consequences of a motor vehicle accident.