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Texting while driving is a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away soon.  And the numbers seem to point to an unsettling reality. Thirty-four percent of American teens ages 16-17 have admitted to texting while driving.

While adults text, too, the occurrence in teens is especially concerning because their brains aren’t fully developed yet. In fact, new research shows that the human brain may not reach its full development until a person’s twenties or possibly even the thirties.

Texting presents yet another distraction that puts them at risk for accidents. If you’re a parent of a driving teen, you might want to consider these tips to help ensure safety on the road:

  • First, pick a relaxed time to talk. Timing can be everything. Keep the conversation light and conversational.
  • Lay out clear expectations. For example, you might specify that phones are not to be used at all while on the road.
  • Be straightforward about the consequences. Research shows that more than 3,000 people lost their lives in crashes that involved a distracted driver.  Explain that by texting and driving, your teen is putting not only himself or herself at risk, but also their passengers and others on the road. Remind them that taking eyes of the road for even a split second could cause injury or death. This is serious stuff.
  • Set a good example. This tip is straightforward. Don’t text on the road. But if you have an urgent need, pull over to a safe place.
  • Educate yourself. There are plenty of resources available online about the danger of distracted driving. Locally, Parkview Health has a campaign to raise awareness about this critical issue. Remind your family and friends that this habit is dangerous and at times life-threatening. You might even take informational packets to your child’s school or your church to spread the message.

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