Teens vulnerable to distracted driving

Staff report

The Fulton County Safe Communities Coalition is reminding parents that inexperience behind the wheel makes their teens more susceptible to distraction behind the wheel. One in three teens who text say they have done so while driving.

Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases a teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times. Talking or texting on the phone takes a teen’s focus off the task of driving, and significantly reduces their ability to react to a roadway hazard, incident or inclement weather.

Fulton County Safe Communinties suggests parents take these steps to help their teens understand the risks of distracted driving:

• Talk to your teen about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share some stories and statistics related to teen drivers and distracted driving. Remind your teen often that driving is a skill that requires the driver’s full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at his or her destination.

• Familiarize yourself with Ohio’s graduated driver licensing law, and enforce its guidelines for your teen. Create your own rules if necessary. Restricting the number of passengers your teen can have, or the hours your teen can drive, is a very effective way to minimize distraction for your teen driver.

• Talk about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your state’s penalties for talking or texting on a phone while driving.

• Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you’ve set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, further limiting the hours during which they can drive, or limiting the places where they can drive. Parents could also consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone — a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.

• Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.

For more information regarding Fulton County Safe Communities, contact Rachel Kinsman at 419-337-0915. Follow on Facebook@FCsafecommunities and Twitter@FC_safecomm for safety tips, information, and upcoming events.

Staff report