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Teen Health and Safety

For Safe Teen Drivers, Parents Must Lead by Example

Joel Feldman


Parents are justifiably worried about their teens and distracted driving. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, with more than 50 percent of serious teen crashes caused by distracted driving. At presentations, I ask parents to raise their hands if they would do anything to keep their children safe. Not surprisingly, every hand is raised. When I ask them to keep their hands up only if they don’t drive distracted with their children in the car, nearly every hand is lowered. 

Safe driving examples

Similarly, more than 75 percent of teens will admit their parents drive distracted with them in the car. As parents we know we are role models, but we are failing when it comes to teaching our children to drive without distraction. Teens whose parents drive distracted are nearly three times as likely to also drive distracted. 

Teens tell me they feel pressured to respond to texts and calls from parents wanting to know where they are when driving. Do we really want them to be answering our calls or texts? 

Being proactive 

There are steps we can take to make sure our teens are driving as safely as possible. Modeling safe driving every time we drive with our children is the best way to teach our children safe driving methods. We must be the drivers we want our children to be. Having our children text or call us before they start to drive will eliminate the need for them to answer their phone while driving, leading to safer driving. Lastly, we can ask our children whether others who drive them are distracted. If so, we need to let those drivers know we expect our children to be driven safely. 

I drove distracted all the time before my daughter Casey was killed by a distracted driver. Please don’t wait until someone you love is killed, or until you kill someone else, before you change the way you drive.

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