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Frank Talk About Texting and Driving
If spring is almost here, then summer is right around the corner. And summer means not just warm weather and trips to the beach, but also a significant increase in teen driving – and accidents caused by teens texting or talking on their cellphones while they drive.
According to a study by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), teens drive 44 percent more in the summer. And far too many of them are likely to be on the phone, texting or talking.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. found that while overall about 20 percent of drivers send or receive text messages while driving, that increases to 37 percent among drivers age 18 to 27. Other studies suggest it might be even higher among the youngest -- and least experienced -- drivers.
As a result of some high-profile accidents that involved texting while driving, including a crash that killed five girls a week after their graduation from high school in Rochester, N.Y., some states have banned the practice and others are considering such a ban.
If you have a young driver, though, you should not wait for the state. Talk with your teens about the dangers of texting or talking on the phone while driving. Set rules, and establish consequences for breaking those rules. Then stick to your guns. The study by Liberty Mutual and SADD found that teens are much more likely to follow safe-driving rules if they believe they will be disciplined for disregarding those rules.
Finally, set a good example. While teens are most prone to texting while driving, they are not the only ones to do so. Many adults give in to the temptation to check their BlackBerry or send a quick message while they are on the road.
Remind your kids, and yourself, that driving takes all your concentration, and that the result of even a momentary distraction can be tragic.