You may have asked your teen to put away the cell phone while driving, but is she engaging in other risky behaviors behind the wheel?

Teens are the age group most at risk for distracted driving, defined as any activity that diverts attention away from controlling the vehicle. Distractions while driving may include:

  • adjusting the radio or media player
  • eating and drinking
  • talking with passengers
  • texting or talking on the phone

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports  that distracted drivers cause 11 percent of crashes with injuries.

Parents can teach their teens to avoid distracted driving by setting a good example. Never use a smartphone while driving, and make the effort to teach your teen other good driving practices, such as changing radio stations only when the car is completely stopped and keeping both hands on the wheel.

Talk with your teen about the risks, and consider writing down your expectations of driving behavior for your teen to sign. Missouri and Illinois have restrictions on cell phone use in the car as well as the number of passengers allowed when the driver is younger than age 18. Remind your teen of the consequences of breaking these laws—and that both his physical safety and driving privileges could be at risk.

Visit distraction.gov and select “Faces” to learn about the impact of distracted driving.

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