How Can You Monitor Your Teen Driver?
Parents know all too well that newly-minted young drivers lack the experience and skill of seasoned adult drivers. This inexperience combined with the distractions of smartphones and other gadgets puts teens at an even greater risk for accidents on the road. According to 2015 statistics compiled by the U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 272 teens between the ages of 15-19 years old were killed because of distracted driving and “about 9 percent of teen (15 to 19) drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes.”
Texting, talking to friends, grabbing their phone to take a call, fiddling with the radio or even looking at a funny billboard are all distractions that can cause a teen to take their eyes off the road. Even a split second glance down can be fatal. Unfortunately, teens often don’t understand how quickly an accident can happen or that even seemingly benign interactions can lead to a serious collision. A vehicle traveling at 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field in a matter of seconds. And, contrary to what many of us believe, the human mind is not equipped to multitask—so we cannot drive safely while engaging in other activities. One psychology professor told NPR that talking on the cell phone while driving was like driving drunk. The reason? Drivers on the phone are going to miss details around them.
For young drivers, those details—a car zooming towards their blind spot, perhaps—are all important to avoiding a crash. The same NPR article discussed how driving becomes automatic with experience, and seasoned drivers react instinctively on the road. However, young drivers don’t have this automatic response, and as NPR notes, they need more brainpower to focus on the road and their driving.
Parents need to be concerned about a teen’s safety once a teen begins driving solo. While independence means less hand-holding, it does not mean less supervision. Young drivers need to understand that their inexperience on the road puts them at a higher risk and that distractions—including and especially cell phone use—increases the risk for a crash. No parent can sit in the passenger seat every day to ensure teens drive with absolute caution, but parents can implement other safety strategies.
So what options are available to parents who wish to have a little more control over their teen’s cell phone access while they are on the road? The choices for monitoring software or other programs may vary by mobile carrier and phone brand. But here is a helpful list of all the ways you can help ensure that your teen’s phone doesn’t distract them while they are driving:
Apple released iOS11 and one of the best features of the new operating system is that it features a “Do not disturb while driving” function. Teens are typically on their parents’ cell phone plan, and this means parents likely already have the ability to set some restrictions on their phone. Setting up the ‘Do not disturb’ function will cause the phone to deactivate once the device senses driving movement. Yes, teens may still make emergency phone calls. However, when someone calls or texts their phone, a message will be sent saying that your teen is driving.
Each carrier offers unique solutions to keeping teens safe on the road. Verizon offers FamilyBase®, which lets parents set a range of controls like cell phone time limits, app downloads and filter content. AT&T features SmartLimits(SM) that also lets parents set a variety of restrictions (like evening hours, during school, etc.). Sprint also offers a range of parental controls and allows parents to restrict phone calls to certain individuals and also can control web access.
Focus by TeenDrive
For additional protection, Focus by TeenDrive is the latest technology revolutionizing safe driving. Parents can sign up and help teens stop distracted driving and more.
Parenting is filled with new challenges and fears as kids grow into independent teens. When it comes to driving safety, however, parents have many options to ensure their teen arrives alive and remains distraction-free on the road. Talk to your cell phone carrier to discuss restrictions, utilize tools on iOS or implement TeenSafe software as an added protection and to limit cell phone access on the road. No matter what tools you use for driver safety, be honest with teens about monitoring or phone restrictions. Open dialogues ensure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.