One of the newest problems faced on the roadways today is texting while driving. And since texting is somewhat of a new communication style, it is mostly happening among our teens. Teenagers get personal cell phones before getting a license to drive. Because texting is a natural form of communication for them, it is not surprising that they feel comfortable enough to text while they are behind the wheel.
So how does one stop this behavior? First of all, when giving teens their first cell phone, parents need to be clear about cell phone etiquette. For example, if someone is talking to you, it is rude to be texting someone else. If you are in class, it is rude to text over the teacher. If you are in a restaurant, it is rude to talk on the telephone as if you are the only person in the room. And finally, one should never, never, text while driving. This one needs to be repeated up until the time they get their license.
In fact, for new drivers, if their cell phone rings while they are driving, they need to be taught not to answer it. That is what voice mail is for. They need to be taught that if they are expecting an important phone call, the safe and responsible thing to do is to pull over either to a parking lot, or onto the shoulder of the road and take the call.
Cell phones are distracting. They can cause you to run red lights, forget to use turn signals, and not pay attention to a stopped car in front of you. In fact, many police officers equate cell phone car accidents to drunk driving. Reaction time is slower and you are not focused on the road and the traffic around you. For teens, this is even more dangerous because they do not have the years of experience behind them to compensate and make quick choices. If you are texting, you are not even watching the road; you are looking at your phone.
A texting while driving accident should cause one to loose his/her license for at least a year. Parents, educators, youth leaders, please help teach our teens to be more responsible with their cell phones.