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How Parents Can Help Their Teen Drivers Keep Their Smartphones Off

Many of us have heard or even made the joke that we can’t go more than a few minutes without using our smartphones in some capacity, sending a text, scanning the latest headlines or updating our favorite social media sites.

While this is certainly not meant to be taken literally, there are certain people for whom distancing themselves from their smartphone is very difficult. Indeed, this borderline compulsive behavior can be so strong that it actually puts the smartphone user– and others around them — in jeopardy.

One such group that can find it hard to hang up their smartphones is teens, the vast majority of whom have grown up in an era of the 24-hour news cycle and instant communication.

What makes this so problematic from a safety perspective is that many teens are unable to separate themselves from their smartphones while behind the wheel, often understanding that it’s dangerous to use it yet justifying it on the grounds that “it’s just one quick phone call” or “it’s just one text.”

Research has shown, however, that sending even the shortest of text messages — five seconds — while traveling at 55 miles-per-hour is the functional equivalent of taking your eyes off the road for the length of a full football field.

The good news is that there are things parents can do to help their teen drivers break their smartphone addiction and prevent potentially deadly car accidents.

For instance, there are apps that can be installed on smartphones that enable parents to monitor anytime their teen driver uses their smartphone while traveling in the car. This includes information about location and even speed.

These kinds of apps can foster a meaningful discussion between parents and their teen about safe driving, and also serve as something of a deterrent for keeping their smartphone off while driving.

As a parent, what are your thoughts on this issue?

Source: WMC 5, “New apps help prevent distracted driving,” Felicia Bolton, March 4, 2015