Getting their license is likely to be one of the most exciting times in your teen’s life.
It’s also one of the most stressful for parents.
It can be very scary to send your teen out on the road without anyone keeping an eye on them from the passenger’s seat.
That’s especially the case since there are so many ways for teens to get distracted while they’re driving.
It’s important to know these distractions so you can talk about the expectations you have for your child’s behavior behind the wheel.
Using Their Cell Phone
Studies have shown that texting while driving is one of the worst of all driving distractions, and teens love to text!
It has always been dangerous, but it is especially important to discuss texting and driving with your teen because in many places, it’s now against the law.
Although texting is arguably the most dangerous distraction, talking on the phone can be a huge distraction too, as well as GPS programs.
Ask your child to keep their phone on silent in the back seat so they aren’t tempted to use it.
Secure their phone to the dash and get it started before they pull out of the driveway if they will be using GPS.
That means you have to be patient with your child!
If they don’t answer your call or text right away, don’t panic!
It means they’re following your rules.
There are some benefits of letting your child carpool with their friends.
It’s a great way to reduce emissions, and it means parents have less driving to do.
Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous.
Studies have shown that passengers can increase the risk of crashes for new drivers, especially when those passengers are other teens.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise if you have witnessed your child acting differently around their friends compared to how they act around family.
Limit the number of passengers in the car while your child is a new driver.
Only allow them to drive alone for the first six months to a year, or provide permission on a case-by-case basis for who your child can transport in the vehicle.
It may frustrate your teen, but it will greatly decrease their chances of getting into an accident.
Messing With Dash Controls
Even without the phone or their friends, teens can get into trouble behind the wheel.
That’s because there are a lot of controls in the car.
That’s especially the case if you have a newer vehicle with Bluetooth capabilities and display screens.
Your teen could get distracted simply by:
Changing the radio station
Switching playlists on their phone
Adjusting the thermostat
Adjusting mirrors and seats
Help your teen get into the habit of making all of these adjustments before they put the car into drive.
That will minimize the time they spend doing these things while driving.
Fatigued driving is an issue for many of us, but it is an especially big problem for teens.
Many teenagers are chronically tired because they stay up late but have to get up early, getting less sleep than they should night after night.
Then, when they get behind the wheel, they can’t focus.
It is important to make sure your teen gets enough sleep at night.
Create a bedtime routine that works for both of you, and consider having everyone in the house put their phones in a basket before bed so it doesn’t keep anyone up at night.
Have a plan in place to drive your child to school if they don’t get enough sleep.
Doing Hair and Makeup
Nearly half of women apply makeup behind the wheel.
Teens are especially at risk because they tend to sleep in as late as possible and fly out the door in the morning.
Add to that the fact that they’re new drivers and many are tired, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Help your child get up a little earlier in the morning so they have time to do their makeup and hair before they leave.
If it’s a persistent problem, prevent your child from taking makeup and hairbrushes into the car so they aren’t tempted to get ready on their way to their destination.
There are many ways for teens to get distracted behind the wheel, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your teen drive at all.
Be aware of the ways they can get distracted with the tips on this list so you can talk to them about how to stay safe when they’re driving.