Did you know that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month? (Don’t worry — not many people in St. Louis do.)
We shouldn’t need a dedicated month to publicly condemn distracted driving, yet data clearly shows that distracted driving is a growing epidemic, particularly among teenage drivers who are already prone to make mistakes on the road. Approximately 6 out of 10 teen car crashes are caused by a distracted driver. As a parent, these sobering stats may have you questioning whether to even buy your teen his first car.
For those worried parents, we suggest reviewing these tips with your teenager and be sure to take the pledge to remain distraction-free through April (and the other 11 months of the year).
7. Say “No” to Texting
Of course, the first rule of distraction-free driving is to avoid MMS, SMS, and whatever-else-MS texting. Even though 20% of teen drivers believe that texting does not affect their ability to drive, the numbers don’t lie: about 1 in 10 fatal crashes are directly related to text-messaging. There is no reason to text while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle – period. (And no, voice-to-text technology won’t reduce the risk of a collision.) If you or your teen must send or reply to a text, the safest option is to pull into a secure area.
6. Hands-Free is NOT Distraction-Free
While it’s certainly safer to have conversations through hands-free Bluetooth, it’s still quite a risky distraction from the road. In fact, drivers using hands-free mobile phones may miss up to 50% of imperative information regarding their driving environment. This is sometimes referred to as “call inattentive blindness,” and it decreases the chance of identifying potential hazards, road signs, and traffic lights. If a phone call must be made or answered, pull over.
5. Take a Safe Driving Course
It’s important to talk to your teen driver about the dangers of distracted driving. But sometimes they need to hear it from someone not sharing their genetics. Check out www.stlsafety.org for class details or to register you and your teen into a course, which has benefitted more than 750,000 teens in St. Louis.
4. Create Your Own Rules for the Road
In Missouri, it’s against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to text and drive. Any young drivers caught texting while driving can be fined $200, have 2 points added to their license, and even have their license suspended for multiple citations. Plus, insurance companies can increase premium or remove teen drivers from their parents’ policies altogether.
Ensure they’re staying off the phone by creating your own set of stricter rules. If they break the rules, they lose driving privileges—end of discussion. Use this contract as a starting point.
3. Don’t Fiddle with GPS
New drivers won’t know which side their gas tank is let alone the difference between north from south. This lack of experience probably warrants their car to have some form of navigation. However, punching in destinations should be done before the trip, not during. At this time, teen drivers should also consider checking weather conditions and formulating a Plan B, just in case. And when all else fails, you know the drill: pull over and figure it out.
2. Avoid Multitasking
Humans may think they’re capable of doing two things at once, but research proves that multitasking is a myth. Even with advanced in-car technology, such as steering wheel-mounted audio controls and navigation with voice-recognition software, it’s better for your teen driver to commit 100% of their attention on the road. (And, for heaven’s sake, make sure they refuse the temptation to scratch that itch, while also eating a sandwich, in Downtown St. Louis’s end-to-end traffic!)
1. Drive a Safe Car
When the time comes to buy your teen a new car – Godspeed! – ensure the vehicle you choose is safe and dependable, not just cheap. First, check the model’s safety ratings with the IIHS and NHTSA. Then look for advanced safety features and driver-assist systems that help reduce or altogether eliminate the chance of a collision.
If you’re having trouble picking a safe car for your teen in St. Louis, consider shopping at Pappas Toyota. Many new Toyota models come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection. It’s just another reason why Toyota is one of the best auto brands in America.
Contact our St. Peters Toyota dealership at (636) 928-1212 to schedule a test drive or ask about any specific Toyota safety feature. Located at 10011 Spencer Rd, Pappas Toyota is here to help you and your new teenage driver stay safe, mile after mile.
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