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Teen Corner

Cell Phone Use and Driving

As a parent, you know one of the most dangerous and tempting distractions to teen drivers are cell phones. But did you know that talking and texting while behind the wheel can be deadly? About 1.2 million car crashes in 2013 involved drivers talking on phones, according to the National Safety Council, and at least 341,000 involved text messaging – and that was FOUR YEARS ago!

Consider these other important texting and driving facts when discussing this crash risk with your new teen driver:

  • Teens have the reaction time of a 70-year-old when distracted while driving.
  • Crash risk is four times higher when a driver uses a cell phone, whether or not it’s hands-free.
  • Many states have instituted a ban on driver hand-held cell phone use (both talking and texting).
  • According to recent CIRP@CHOP research, teen drivers receive the most calls from their parents, more than general calling patterns would suggest.
  • According to other recent CIRP@CHOP research, even though teens recognize that talking or texting on a cell phone or using social media apps while driving is unsafe, they often engage in these behaviors while driving.

BE A ROLE MODEL!  What Parents Can Do

Parents need to model safe driving behaviors by not using their cell phones while driving (including at stoplights) and to set a zero tolerance policy for their teens’ cell phone use while driving. They should help their teens by giving them safe alternatives to talking or texting while driving like:

  • Complete any call or text before starting the car.
  • Get directions and try to visualize the destination before turning the key.
  • Check in with friends or parents only after arrival.
  • Pull over for urgent calls.

Distraction and Teen Crashes

teencrashesThe most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers has found significant evidence that distracted driving is likely much more serious a problem than previously known, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The unprecedented video analysis finds that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes.

Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied, including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. Click here for the full AAA news release.

The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:

  • Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
  • Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes

Preventing Impaired Driving in Your Teen

Alcohol isn’t just illegal for teenagers to consume—it can be deadly if they drink and drive. In fact, drunk driving is one of the most frequent causes of death among teens. Alcohol impairs most of the skills that young drivers need the most, such as their reaction time, their vision, and their judgment.

  • Set rules and explain the consequences of breaking them
    Explain to your teenagers that they are not to drink alcohol AT ALL, especially if they plan to drive. Make sure that they know it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with any trace of alcohol in his or her body. Lay out the possible consequences of being caught driving drunk, including serving time in jail, losing his or her driver’s license, being denied acceptance to college or worst of all, being involved in a fatal car crash. Communicate rules and expectations clearly. You may consider developing a parent-teen driving agreement to set and enforce these rules and expectations.

  • Equip teens to handle peer pressure
    Some teenage drinking is due to pressure from friends. Sit down with your teens and talk about scenarios they might encounter that involve alcohol. Remember that most teens who drink, do so to get drunk. Discuss what they would do if they were offered a beer at a party and how to turn down a ride from a friend who has been drinking. Remind them that they can always call you for a ride if they end up in a situation in which alcohol is being served to teens.

  • Practice what you preach
    Set a good example for responsible adult alcohol use in your own home. Don’t drink excessively, and discourage drunkenness by adult guests. Avoid making jokes about drinking, too—this will dispel the notion that alcohol use is funny, or glamorous. Refrain from implying that alcohol is a good way to solve problems—avoid making comments like “It’s been a tough day—I need a drink.”

  • Get to know their friends
    Help your kids build friendships with other teens who do not drink. Communicate with your teenager’s friends and their parents as well. If you notice your teenager hanging out with a friend who is known to use alcohol, limit their time together by making strict rules on how afterschool time can be spent and how late he or she can stay out at night.

  • Know your state laws
    Despite parents’ best efforts, some teenagers drive drunk anyway, and many are charged with DUI. If this happens to your child, educate yourself on the legal consequences he or she could face. These could include suspension of his or her license, attendance at an alcohol awareness class, community service, a fine, and possible jail time. If you feel your child’s DUI may be the result of a serious alcohol abuse problem, talk with your family doctor. A referral to a psychiatrist or mental health counselor may be necessary to treat the problem.

Colorado Teen Driving Statistics

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

  • From 2004 to 2011, rates of motor vehicle crash deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds in Colorado dropped more than 67 percent. However, in 2012, Colorado experienced a 10 percent rise in teen fatalities from 2011.


  • Inexperience was the contributing factor to approximately 12 percent of all teen crashes in 2011 in Colorado. This percentage remained the same whether there was an injury and fatality or not.
  • Teen drivers represent nearly 6% of licensed Colorado drivers, but they account for more than 11% of all traffic deaths in the state.
  • A 2013 survey of 738 parents of teens throughout Colorado showed only 6.4 percent of parents could accurately identify components of graduated drivers licensing laws, including curfews, passenger restrictions and seat belt requirements.

For more information, contact Mile High Driver Training today at (720) 651-8123